CNN has reached an undisclosed settlement with Nick Sandmann, a Kentucky Catholic high school student who sued the cable news outlet for defamation over its coverage of an incident that occurred after last year’s March for Life.
Sandmann, a junior last year who was at the centre of the viral video controversy, sought $275 million in damages in his lawsuit filed against CNN last March. He has also sued The Washington Post and NBC Universal. A federal judge let part of the suit against The Post continue after the paper filed a motion to dismiss it. Trial dates have not yet been set for these two cases.
The amount of the CNN settlement was not made public during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Covington, Kentucky.
After the announcement, Sandmann tweeted: “Yes, We settled with CNN,” which gained more than 82,000 likes by the next day and hundreds of comments, primarily of support.
Sandmann sued media outlets for what he claimed was biased coverage of what transpired at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2019. That day, Sandmann, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, smiled just inches away from Nathan Phillips, a Native American leader, as Phillips chanted and beat a drum.
The day after that encounter, clips from a video of that encounter went viral almost immediately, which showed students surrounding Phillips while appearing to be mocking him. The clip caused immediate outrage, particularly on social media. But by the next day, extended footage of how the situation unfolded revealed that another group had taunted the students and some responded back. Phillips said he had walked over to the students and the group as an intervention.
After the initial video went viral, Sandmann said in a statement that he had “received physical and death threats via social media, as well as hateful insults.”
Sandmann’s school and the Diocese of Covington initially condemned the students’ behaviour but then backed down as more information came forth and they called for a third-party investigation into the situation.
The conclusion of that report, released by the Covington Diocese on February 13, 2019, found no evidence that the students had issued “offensive or racist statements” that they had been accused of doing.
In a letter to parents of Covington Catholic High School last year, Bishop Roger J. Foys of Covington said his hope that the investigation would “exonerate our students so that they can move forward with their lives has been realized.”
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund