Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School student who sued major news outlets in the aftermath of their coverage of a controversial interaction he and several of his classmates had with a Native American activist, said Tuesday that the “full war machine of the mainstream media” was unleashed against him and called for a return to “responsible” reporting.
Sandmann sued the Washington Post, CNN, the New York Times, and other major outlets for defamation after their coverage portrayed him and his classmates as racist aggressors who cornered Nathan Phillips, an elderly Native American man, during a confrontation near the Lincoln Memorial on January 18 of last year.
“My life changed forever in that one moment” Sandmann said during his address to the Republican National Convention. “The full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode” without researching the full video footage of the incident, investigating Phillips’s motives, or ever asking him for his side of the story.
“And do you know why? Because the truth was not important,” he added.
Viral video of the incident showed Sandmann, who was 16 at the time, and Phillips standing face to face as Phillips loudly beat on a drum inches away from the Kentucky high schooler’s face while Sandmann smirked.
NBC asserted that Sandmann “blocked” Phillips and “did not allow him to retreat” during their interaction. But longer versions of the video, released after the media outlets had already reported that Sandmann initiated the confrontation, showed that Phillips approached Sandmann, who stood mostly still during the incident. Before the encounter between Sandmann and Phillips, members of the Black Hebrew Israelites, a militant black nationalist group, began a confrontation with the teenagers, taunting and shouting slurs at them.
Sandmann and his classmates, who were attending the annual anti-abortion March for Life, wore “Make America Great Again” caps, another fact initial media reports emphasized.
Phillips and other “professional protesters” were looking to turn him into the “latest poster child showing why Trump is bad,” Sandmann said Tuesday.
“Looking back now, how could I have possibly imagined that the simple act of putting on that red hat would unleash hate from the left and make myself the target of network and cable news networks nationwide,” Sandmann said.
Sandmann recently reached legal settlements with CNN and the Washington Post for an undisclosed sum.