In January, Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School, appeared in a viral video at a rally in Washington, D.C. The video showed the student standing and smiling while a Native American man named Nathan Phillips played the drums. Sandmann is seen wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat and had been in Washington for the March for Life rally in opposition of abortion.
Meanwhile, Philips had been there for the Indigenous Peoples’ March, which occurred on the same day. The video quickly spread through social media and many called out the teen for mocking Phillips and being disrespectful. False reports ran rampant and Sandmann was demonized by the media, according to Fox News.
Nevertheless, it quickly became clear that the video was misleading and many had been too quick to come to their own conclusions regarding what happened. Investigators for Covington Catholic High School later determined that neither Sandmann, nor the students he was with initiated any sort of confrontation with Phillips.
The Sandmann family is now suing CNN for $250 million for their attacks on his character, according to their lawyer, Lin Wood. Wood hopes that by going after CNN, it will encourage other publications to fact check and utilize journalistic integrity. He also believes that the teen was targeted by the media largely in part for his support of Donald Trump.
“Now you say you’ve seen the tape; if you took the time to look at the full context of what happened that day, Nicholas Sandmann did absolutely nothing wrong. He was, as I’ve said to others, he was the only adult in the room. But you have a situation where CNN couldn’t resist the idea that here’s a guy with a young boy, that Make America Great Again cap on. So they go after him.”
Wood stated that the suit against CNN will officially be filed on Monday, or Tuesday at the latest.
CNN isn’t the first publication that the Sandmann family has gone after since the incident. Just last month, they filed a suit against The Washington Post for $250 million. This includes compensatory and punitive damage as a result of their heavy negative coverage of the incident in January. Although many publications and social media users spoke out against the teen, Wood believes that CNN was particularly harsh in their targeting of the student.
Following the viral video, Sandmann himself went on live television to profess his innocence and defend his character.