The lawsuit filed against the Washington Post, for its coverage of Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat-wearing teenagers who reportedly mocked a Native American man, appears intent on punishing the newspaper for its critical reporting of Trump.
On Tuesday, the family of 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School student at the center if the controversy, filed a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper, the Washington Post reported.
Sandmann was in the news cycle when a video went viral that appeared to show him smirking at Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist, in January at the Lincoln Memorial.
The federal lawsuit, which seeks $250 million in damages, alleges that The Post “targeted and bullied” the Kentucky teenager in order to embarrass Trump. It points to seven defamatory articles published by the newspaper as evidence.
“The Post ignored basic journalist standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President,” the suit states, adding that the newspaper “bullied” Sandmann “because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ souvenir cap.”
A spokeswoman for The Post said the newspaper plans “to mount a vigorous defense” in the case.
Sandmann and his classmates were on a school-sponsored trip to the nation’s capital when Sandmann confronted Phillips on Jan. 18 at the Indigenous People’s March. The teens, most of them wearing MAGA hats, were shown in the video gathering around Phillips like a mob, mocking his religious chants and yelling at the elderly Native American man.
The teens were widely condemned after the incident. However, a public relations firm hired to quiet the storm went on a media blitz to claim that the students were the victims of racism from a group of Black Hebrew Israelites who allegedly yelled racist slurs at the white teenagers.
After initially apologizing for Sandmann and his classmates’ behavior, the Covington Diocese in Kentucky reversed course and defended the students. The diocese hired a private firm to investigate the incident. No surprise, the company issued a report on Feb. 13 that cleared the students of racist behavior.
It appears that instead of turning this into a teachable moment, the students’ teachers and religious leaders condoned their actions. Years from now, this could become a case study in how white privilege was reinforced at an elite school to mold racist future leaders in business, government and the criminal justice system.