CNN has reached a settlement with Nick Sandmann, the high school student who sued the network over its coverage of an incident that went viral last year in which he appeared with a Native American activist at the Lincoln Memorial.
A spokesperson for CNN confirmed that a settlement had been reached but declined comment on the details. Sandmann wrote on Twitter, “Yes, We settled with CNN.”
Sandmann sued CNN, The Washington Post and NBCUniversal last year over its coverage of the Jan. 18, 2019 incident at the Lincoln Memorial. In a video that went viral on Twitter, Sandmann and other Covington High School students, who were in D.C. for the March for Life, appeared to be surrounding a Native American activist, Nathan Phillips, who was at the Lincoln Memorial for the Indigenous People’s March.
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But a longer version of the video contradicted the notion that the Covington students instigated the incident or even that they were taunting Phillips. Instead, it showed another group known as the Hebrew Israelites using vulgar language against the high school students.
Sandmann, wearing a Make America Great Again hat, was at the center of the initial clip posted on social media, and it appeared that he was staring down Phillips as he played a drum. Twitter commentators quickly seized on the incident as an instance of harassment against Phillips, but longer video of the incident presented a different story over who was responsible for escalating the situation.
In his $275 million lawsuit against the network, his attorneys claimed that CNN “brought down the full force of its corporate power, influence, and wealth on Nicholas by falsely attacking, vilifying, and bullying him despite the fact that he was a minor child.” CNN defended itself by contending that the coverage was not defamatory or was subjective opinion.
One of Sandmann’s attorneys, Todd McMurtry, wrote on Twitter that they will “turn our attention” to their lawsuits against NBC News and The Washington Post, and that additional defendants would be named soon.
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