If you recall, Nick Sandmann, a junior at Covington (KY) Catholic High School found himself at ground zero of a media frenzy that portrayed him as a racist provocateur based on a heavily edited video that went viral. Not only did the media pile on but a lot of faux conservatives joined the attack to show the rest of us that they were just a lot better people than we were. That, in turn, incited enough death threats that Sandmann’s school was closed for about a week. Had it been a social media and CNN thing it might have been explainable. But, instead, organizations that consider themselves to be news gathering organizations were on the leading edge. And they were there because Sandmann is white. Did I mention that he’s white. He’s Catholic. He was at the March for Life. And he was wearing a MAGA hat. And he was white and wearing a MAGA hat. The alleged victim was a fraudulent sack of pus who claimed to be a Vietnam War veteran and some kind of native shaman or something. But none of that mattered because Sandmann is white and was wearing a MAGA hat.
Sandmann’s family retained counsel and sued several media conglomerates, among them the Washington Post. Today, a federal judge in Kentucky dismissed the case against the Washington Post.
In a 36-page ruling, U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman noted that the Post never mentioned Sandmann by name in its initial coverage of the incident, referring only to groups of “hat wearing teens.” Bertelsman added that “the words used contain no reflection upon any particular individual” and thus could not be constituted as defamation. The judge also ruled that the newspaper used language that was “loose, figurative,” and “rhetorical hyperbole” which is protected by the First Amendment.
This is insane. It is now legal for a major newspaper to single out a teenager and label him a racist and generate an online mob to make death threats and to cause incalculable to the kid’s future because this incident will be on the internet forever, visible to college admissions staff and human relations staff, none of whom are the sharpest tools in the shed and could fail to find the resolution of the issue.
The Sandmann family said they would be asking the appellate court to review the trial court’s decision on appeal.
“I believe fighting for justice for my son and family is of vital national importance,” said Ted Sandmann, Nicholas’ father. “If what was done to Nicholas is not legally actionable, then no one is safe.”
“The law must protect innocent minors targeted by journalists publishing click-bait sensationalized news,” Todd McMurtry, co-counsel for the Sandmann family, said in the statement. “This is especially true in the current hyper-partisan political environment.”
Bingo. What the Washington Post did was wrong and they did it for the political hit against Trump and for the f***ing clicks. What this shows more than anything else is how we are now subjects and not citizens. The institutions of government and the large corporations are allies. They protect one another against the powerless and we’re expected to nod at their wisdom and move on. If a person as private and unknown as Nick Sandmann can be libeled and slandered in this fashion without any recourse to the courts, then none of us is safe from this abuse at the hands of the media with the collusion of judges who are more interested in currying favor with the right people than administering justice.