The family of the Kentucky teen who was involved in an encounter with a Native American advocate at the Lincoln Memorial last month filed a defamation lawsuit against The Washington Post on Tuesday, seeking $250 million in damages for its coverage of the incident.Ann Althouse dissects the article in "The suit alleges that The Post 'targeted and bullied' 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann in order to embarrass President Trump."
The suit alleges that The Post “targeted and bullied” 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann in order to embarrass President Trump. Sandmann was one of a number of students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky who were wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats during a trip to the Mall when they encountered Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist.
News accounts, including in The Post, and videos of their encounter sparked a heated national debate over the behavior of the participants.
“In a span of three days in January of this year commencing on January 19, the Post engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism by competing with CNN and NBC, among others, to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies which attacked, vilified, and threatened Nicholas Sandmann, an innocent secondary school child,” reads the complaint.
It added, “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 was filed by Sandmann’s parents, Ted and Julie, on Nicholas’s behalf in U.S. District Court in Covington. It seeks $250 million because Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos paid that amount for the newspaper when he bought it in 2013.
Here's an interesting juxtaposition of paragraphs:So the WaPoo, along with a thousand other liberal media outfits, made Sandmann a public figure by defaming him, and then claims immunity from defamation by calling him a public figure. Thus, the WaPoo could never be convicted of defamation. A self-licking ice cream cone.
The Sandmanns’ suit asserts that the newspaper “bullied” Sandmann in its reporting “because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ souvenir cap.”I read between the lines: If we're going to be sensitive about "bullying," this lawsuit is bullying the Native American man ("phony war hero") and the black men ("unruly"). WaPo's argument might be that there are a lot of colorful characterizations that get expressed, but they're not really falsehoods in the sense that ought to matter. That is, it shouldn't be so hard to report the news with vivid prose, and courts should refrain from delving into the motivations of the various speakers and judging who's got a "bullying" mentality. I'm not choosing sides at the moment, just trying to picture how the lawsuit might play out.
It calls Phillips “a phony war hero [who] was too intimidated by the unruly Hebrew Israelites to approach them, the true troublemakers, and instead chose to focus on a group of innocent children.”
The WaPo article ends with the assertion that "A plaintiff must show that a defendant acted with 'reckless disregard' to sustain a defamation action." I don't think that's right. Sandmann was a private citizen. You on (sic) have to show "reckless disregard" ("actual malice") when you're suing a public figure. That's the First Amendment standard dating back to New York Times v. Sullivan.
And this UPDATE from Stay McCain in Can Nick Sandmann Win? Covington Student Sues the Washington Post
Whoa! Talk about sloppy journalism — I’m guilty. This lawsuit won’t be heard by a D.C. jury, because it was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. In which case, my advice to the Washington Post is, “Offer a generous settlement, because a jury full of angry Kentucky rednecks is not your friend.”Watch for WaPo to try and move it to the 9th Circus.