WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday applauded a lawsuit against the Washington Post filed on behalf of a Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann.
“The Washington Post ignored basic journalistic standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump.” Covington student suing WAPO. Go get them Nick. Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2019
“Go get them Nick,” Trump tweeted. “Fake News!”
The lawsuit, filed by Hemmer, DeFrank Wessels PLLC, claims that the Post “wrongfully targeted and bullied” Sandmann over a viral incident at the March for Life in January.
A video purporting to show Sandmann confronting an elderly Native American man quickly spread across Twitter, leaving a trail of enraged responses in its wake.
At the center of the clip was Sandmann, his classmates from Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School and activist Nathan Phillips.
The case looked clear-cut, at least at first blush. The video, recorded at the annual March for Life on Jan. 28 on the steps of the Lincoln Monument, depicted Sandmann in a Make America Great Again hat smirking in Phillips’ face.
However, the story quickly shifted, with the students issuing statements relaying their own interpretations of the incident and other videos popping up showing additional details.
The major media got this one completely wrong. https://t.co/z8y4CGFal1
— reason (@reason) January 21, 2019
— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) January 21, 2019
Phillips, it now seems, was the first to approach the students. A video lasting an hour and 46 minutes on Facebook shows Phillips and other Indigenous demonstrators stepping between the overwhelmingly white group of students — many wearing MAGA hats — and a group of Black Hebrew Israelites who were taunting them.
Both the activist and Sandmann say they were attempting to defuse the heated situation.
Adding another strange layer to the story, the Twitter account that shared the first video to 40,000 followers has been suspended after CNN Business revealed that its user, who claimed to be a California school teacher, was actually a blogger in Brazil using a stock photo.
The Convington students have been met with a wave of support from conservatives, many of whom have lashed out at the media for rushing to judgment.
The suit claims the Post’s coverage of the incident defamed Sandmann.
“In the Post’s own words — albeit a far cry from the true scope of the false and defamatory accusations it made against Nicholas — the readers of the Post’s coverage were “licensed to conclude that the students saw [Phillips] from afar, targeted him and advanced,’ ” the complaint reads. “Of course, the Post’s readers were also licensed to falsely conclude that Nicholas physically and verbally assaulted Phillips while blocking his egress from a mob of students who were similarly engaged in racist conduct.”
The suit also cites a social media post accusing the students of “mocking” Phillips.
The attorneys for Sandmann, who also are representing his parents, are seeking $250 million in damages.
Washington Post spokesperson Kristine Coratti Kelly said the outlet intends to “mount a vigorous defense.”
Trump has made the Post a frequent target, oftentimes accusing its owner, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, of manipulating the paper’s coverage to attack the president or bolster his own interests.
The president has provided no evidence and Bezos maintains he does not have a hand in the paper’s coverage.