Attorneys for Nicholas Sandmann, whom the Washington Post repeatedly smeared in reporting on the standoff instigated by Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, say a newspaper’s editor’s note about the incident, which proclaims to clarify the facts but really is seemingly intended to avoid a lawsuit, neither corrects nor clarifies the record.
The statement from lawyers Lin Wood and Todd McMurty says the newspaper is unapologetically “arrogant” and repeated at least one falsehood in publishing the note, which appeared as a free-standing item on the Post’s webpage on Friday.
The attorneys wrote that the note is “too little and too late.”
Last month, they sued the Post on Sandmann’s behalf for $250 million.
While waiting at the Lincoln Memorial to depart the March for Life, Sandmann and his schoolmates from Covington Catholic High in Kentucky became targets of a racist attack from a group of black radicals. The boys let loose with some high school cheers to drown out the black radicals. Phillips, a radical Indian activist and military faker, used the verbal battle as a cover to confront the boys.
The media alleged that Sandmann and his fellow pupils harassed and intimidated the drum-banging Omaha Indian, and otherwise shouted racist remarks, which provoked a nationwide Two Minutes Hate. Sandmann’s attorneys produced a 15-minute video that conclusively proved the boys’ innocence. A report from a private detective agency proved likewise.
The attorneys also sent notices that media outlets should preserve data and documents relative to their reports, and requested retractions of the defamatory claims where statute required it. The Post, Sandmann’s $250 million lawsuit alleges, participated eagerly in the smear. The lawsuit says the Post did not properly investigate the events and “rushed to lead the mainstream media to assassinate Nicholas’s character.”
On Friday, the Post published two editor’s notes. One was a free-standing note that sought to clarify and explain its reporting, but admitted that its reporters and editors jumped the gun in fingering Sandmann: “Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story.” The newspaper appended a note to and added clarifying material one of its stories, but at least two falsehoods, one of them serious, remained in that piece.
Attorneys Reply to the Note
Wood and McMurty firmly stated that Sandman’s lawsuit will proceed.
“The Washington Post rushed to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies who falsely attacked, vilified and threatened Nicholas Sandmann, an innocent 16-year old boy.” Now, they wrote, the newspaper is trying to “to avoid accountability and limit its legal responsibility for its wrongdoing.”
But the hard-left newspaper’s “efforts were too little and too late.”
The Friday night efforts by the Post to whitewash its wrongdoing were untimely, grossly insufficient and did little more than perpetuate the lies it published — lies that will haunt and adversely impact Nicholas for the rest of his life.
The Post ignored its own culpability and wrongdoing. [The newspaper’s attorney] stated that the Post “provided accurate coverage.” It did not and its belated public relations efforts change nothing and fool no one. The Post made no effort to retract and correct the lies it published.
The attorneys allege that the Post “did not have the integrity to unequivocally admit its negligent and reckless violations of fundamental journalistic standards documented by its complete failure to investigate the incident at the National Mall before publishing lies about a child.”
Wood and McMurty wrote that the Post violated its own standards and “did not have the character to apologize to Nicholas and seek his forgiveness.” Although the Post “announced its ‘deletion’ of one of its false and defamatory tweets,” they allege, the newspaper repeated the defamation “by re posting the tweet so that its lies will also forever remain available on the Internet and in social media.”
While a false accusation “against an adult [might] destroy a lifetime of accomplishments,” the attorneys allege, “false accusation against children forever rob them of their inherent right to define their lives for themselves and force them to suffer a life tainted and damaged by the permanent shadow of the lies.”
Noting that the Post had “doubled down on its lies,” the attorneys wrote that “we will now double down on truth ... to hold the Post accountable and obtain justice for Nicholas.”
Image of Nicholas Sandmann: Screenshot from Washington Post YouTube video