The attorney for Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic teenager who was caught up in a controversy regarding his and his classmates’ behavior at a pro-life march weeks ago, is suing media organizations whose early reporting painted the teen as the aggressor and the villain.
As WKRC-TV (Cincinnati) reports, attorney Todd McMurtry and his team are researching the early media coverage of the January incident, looking to see which news organizations will be receiving paperwork from his office. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, already a handful have made the cut: those include the New York Times, CNN, GQ and TMZ. Also hearing from McMurtry’s office will be politician Elizabeth Warren, actress Alyssa Milano, and individual journalists Maggie Haberman, Ana Cabrera, and David Brooks. Even Sandmann’s own allies – his Kentucky diocese and various officials within – will be hearing from his attorney.
In January, Sandmann and his classmates from the Kentucky Catholic high school went to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington for a pro-life march. Later that day, photos and videos began appearing on Twitter, and other media outlets, showing Sandmann and his classmates, many of whom were wearing the red-and-white “Make America Great Again” hat — the symbol of the Trump administration — appearing to taunt counter-protesters.
Sandmann, in particular, was photographed face-to-face with an elderly Native American man, later identified as Nathan Phillips.
— Catholic Herald (@CatholicHerald) February 1, 2019
Initially, the reaction was, by-and-large, directed against Sandmann, with internet users accusing him of “disrespecting” and even “taunting” the elderly man. However, later reports and videos from the event painted a clearer picture of what happened that day, and as it turns out, the Covington teens had been met at the memorial by counter-protesters who taunted them. And as for the “confrontation” with Phillips, both men say they were simply trying to “defuse” the situation.
McMurtry says via the Chicago Sun Times that the individuals and media outlets know that what they did was wrong.
“They know they crossed the line.”
It bears noting that the letters that have been sent, and will be sent, by McMurtry’s team aren’t indications that a lawsuit is forthcoming. Rather, they’re requests not to destroy any documentation related to the case; a possible indication that a later lawsuit may be coming.
McMurtry alleges that the early false reporting did significant damage to his client’s reputation, and that the individuals and media outlets who contributed to the defamation should expect to pay up.
“There are so many deep pocket defendants who crossed the line, the process will just roll out. It’s international.”
It remains unclear, as of this writing, how much money Sandmann and his attorney are seeking in damages.