Covington Catholic Student Sues CNN for $275 Million

“A Kentucky teenager sued CNN on Tuesday for defamation, saying the cable network falsely conveyed to viewers that he was the ‘face of an unruly hate mob’ confronting a Native American activist at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington in January,” Reuters reported on Thursday this week.

“The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann in federal court in Kentucky, seeks $275 million in compensatory and punitive damages over the videotaped incident in the nation’s capital.”

Sandmann and his fellow students were in Washington attending the national March for Life, which annually draws hundreds of thousands of attendees in protest of legal abortion.

Controversy arose when video circulated online of Sandmann and other students in an altercation with other protesters in D.C., including a Native American man named Nathan Phillips.

Initially criticized for appearing to harass Phillips, the students were eventually exonerated, but not after viral condemnation of the minors as racist, which the lawsuit alleges CNN promoted:

“The complaint said CNN, a division of Turner Broadcasting System Inc-owned Warner Media LLC, aired four ‘defamatory’ broadcasts and nine online articles falsely accusing Sandmann, 16, and his classmates of ‘engaging in racist conduct.'”

CNN may not be the only media arm the student’s legal counsel may target next:

In addition to the Washington Post, “[t]he Associated Press and television networks NBC and HBO could be the next three entities sued over their handling of the viral video featuring Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann,” Fox News reported.

Todd McMurtry, one of Sandmann’s lawyers, explained the complaint as an attempt to hold the CNN and the rest of the media accountable: “Clearly what we want to do is stop them from behaving in a way that discards all journalistic integrity. Here they didn’t investigate. They took something off of Twitter and put it right out into the media.”