“Our Pride is Showing”: NBC Settles With Nicholas Sandmann

Former Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann has reached another settlement with a major news organization over the widespread false reporting of his encounter with a Native American activist in front of the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2019. Sandmann previously settled with the Washington Post and CNN. He has now settled his $275 million defamation lawsuit against NBC. Unfortunately, such damages have become the cost of doing business for many in the media in the age of advocacy journalism where the narrative is more important than the news. Having a MAGA-hatted, racist, pro-life high school student abusing an elderly Native American was a fact too good to check — even when it required as little as watching the unedited videotapes. 

The slogan “Our Pride is Showing” took on a more menacing meaning over years of protracted litigation (and the denial of motions to dismiss). In the end, there was more pride than professionalism displayed by NBC in its airing of the false reports and then the refusal to accept responsibility for the damage caused by its erroneous reporting.

Sandmann tweeted that “the terms are confidential” but confirmed the settlement.

Despite the existence of videotape showing him merely standing in front of the activist, the media reported that Sandmann was the aggressor. It was also reported that the students “performed a ‘Build the wall’ chant,” a claim contradicted by an independent investigation.

His counsel detailed roughly “fifteen defamatory television broadcasts, six defamatory online articles, and many tweets falsely accusing Nicholas and his Covington Catholic High School (‘CovCath’) classmates of racist acts.” According to the complaint, MSNBC continued to repeat the false representations as late as January 27th — after most media organizations corrected its coverage.

 Although NBCUniversal acknowledged on January 19 that there was video indicating that it was Phillips who approached Nicholas – not the other way around as other members of the mainstream media were reporting – as late as January 27, MSNBC was still falsely broadcasting that Phillips was not the aggressor and that video evidence supported Phillips’ claims.

 Although it was undisputedly clear by January 20 (at the very latest) that Nicholas had done nothing more than stand still while Phillips approached him and beat a drum in his face, as late as January 23 and 24, NBCUniversal was broadcasting and publishing stories indicating that Nicholas had taken actions for which he should apologize and for which Phillips had purportedly forgiven him.

More specifically, NBCUniversal painted the false picture that Nicholas and his CovCath classmates were “a big mob” that had “surrounded these black kids,” the Black Hebrew Israelites, with the two groups “throwing back and forth racial taunts,” and that “it needed one little spark and that mob would have descended on those 4 guys and ripped them apart,” and that Nicholas and his classmates then “targeted” and “surrounded” Phillips, causing Phillips to be “scared” when he was “harassed” and “taunted” by Nicholas and his classmates, who committed a “hate crime.”

Many in the media went into a virtual state of ecstasy in describing the group of high schoolers as a virtual meeting of the American Bund where brown shirted (or, in this case, MAGA hatted) teens trapped an elderly Native American under the looming gaze of Abraham Lincoln. It was enough to put MSNBC hosts into hyperventilation as they breathlessly recounted the attack.

Indeed, despite the clear record supporting Sandmann, many have continued to hound him including an ACLU lawyer who opposed his being accepted into college and a professor promising to follow his moves on campus.

Likewise, some continued to attack Sandmann and even compared him to George Zimmerman. We previously discussed one segment involving “Above the Law” writer Joe Patrice in his interview with The Nation’s Elie Mystal, In the interview, Mystal, the Executive Editor of “Above the Law”, attacked this 16 year old boy as a racist.  Patrice agreed with Mystal’s objections to Sandmann wearing his “racist [MAGA] hat.” They also objected to Sandmann doing interviews trying to defend himself with Mystal deriding how this “17-year-old kid makes the George Zimmerman defense for why he was allowed to deny access to a person of color.”

Putting aside the fact that Sandmann was not denying “access to a person of color,”  Mystal and Patrice were comparing this high school student to a man who was accused of murdering an unarmed African American kid and even assailing his effort to clear his name as the media continued to label him a racist. It was typical of much of today’s rage-filled commentary. These two writers had no qualms in attacking some kid as a racist in the national media while abusing him for trying to defend his reputation.  It was the popular thing to do in piling on Sandmann. He was merely a vehicle for the release of rage without the burden of reason or research.

Many writers who joined the mob attacking Sandmann have never apologized.  They just moved on to the next target to be declared a racist in a summary media judgment.

Indeed, Mystal continued to slam Sandmann in postings on “Above the Law.”  In one such posting, Mystal wrote in part:

Fresh on the heels of Clarence Thomas wishing he could rewrite the First Amendment to make it easier to sue people, we’re getting a glimpse of what that dystopian future would look like. A team of lawyers have filed a $250 million defamation suit against the Washington Post, on behalf of Nick Sandmann and his family.

The suit alleges many bad things happened to Sandmann after his encounter with Nathan Phillips in front to the Lincoln Memorial. It does not allege that there was no encounter in front of Lincoln Memorial, or that the encounter was captured on video. Seeing as a truth is a defense to any defamation claim, it would be surprising for the lawsuit to survive a motion to dismiss.

Obviously, for a third time, a major news organization was not able to use a motion to dismiss to dispense with the lawsuit … and any journalistic responsibility for its own reporting.

Of course, the settlement will change nothing. We have discussed the false reporting in controversies ranging from the Lafayette Park protests to the Russian collusion scandal to cases like the Rittenhouse trial. However, where stories on Lafayette Park or the Russian collusion scandal falsely accused public officials who understand that they are targets for reckless reporting, these stories falsely accused a teenage boy and his fellow high schoolers on a school trip of being racists in national media stories. That should be appalling to anyone with a modicum of decency, let alone integrity and humanity.

Damages, however, have never been shown to instill integrity or humanity in those who lack such qualities. However, it does show that, despite years of punishing litigation and hostile coverage, Nickolas Sandmann was able to recover something for the media flash mob coverage of his high school trip.


251 thoughts on ““Our Pride is Showing”: NBC Settles With Nicholas Sandmann”

  1. False and reckless reporting.

    These are two different things.

    Can you give examples ?

    Regardless, I do not recall Turley criticizing the left wing nut media for “reckless” reporting.

    I am not sure that I accept that there really is such a thing as reckless reporting.

    If something is True, it is not reckless to report it.

    As to Turley criticising Fox.

    Fox is far from perfect – but they are NOT the problem today.

    There is no rule of political parity that requires that you criticise the left as much as the right.

    During the McCarthy hearings a lifetime ago – it is the Right that justifiably received the bulk of media criticism.

    Today it is ONLY the LEFT that is the real threat to democracy.

    The right is not at this moment threatening constitutional rights.
    They are not threatening to change the rules of normal order.
    The right is not publicly berating its own Senators who will not vote as it wishes.
    It is not threatening to pack the supreme court.
    It is not threatening to end the Fillibuster
    Or threatening to sack the senate parlimentarian for properly asserting that policy and law changes are NOT merely fiscal matters that can go into a budget reconcilliation bill.

    It is not the Right that is engaged in wide spread censorship.
    It is not the right that has made promises that it can not possibly deliver on.
    It is not the right that has F’d up a strong and growing economy.
    It is not the Right that claimed it could do better than the left against Covid and failed misserably.
    It is not the right that has caused the spike in property and violent crime.

    List the problems in this country and few if any have anything to do with the right.

    They ALL are failures of the left.

    That is not only true for the past year – it has been true for 13 years.

    It is not the Right that sold the people packs of lies for the past 5 years.

    Whatever problems Fox or the right may have – and there are plenty, they are not at this time nor have they been for years consequential in comparison to those of the left.

    All you are doing is pointing out the abject stupidity and failure of concepts such as the equal time doctrine.

    The nonsense that Turley must criticize Fox is lunacy.
    FOX is NOT THE PROBLEM right now.

    If and When they are – I expect Turley will speak out.
    As will I, as will myriads of others.

    Fox is imperfect – aren’t we all.
    It has a political bias – don’t we all.
    Fox makes mistakes on occasion – don’t we all.

    But FOX is NOT nearly 24×7 idiotic false garbage.
    Fox has not spent the past 5 years selling a collection of obvious lies.

    But even worse is that fact that people like you have spent their lives pissing over purported ignorant republican – deplorables.
    People too stupid to vote.

    Yet these “deplorables” were smart enough to pick up on the obvious lies of the left wing nut media, or the left generally or the leaders of the democratic party – the Schiff,s the pelosi’s the Warren’s, the Warners, the Schumer’s the AOC’s the Swallwell’s.

    But YOU – the purportedly intelligent educated elite – were DUPED. and in many cases still are.

    ANYONE who actually beleived – that Putin would sacrifice the best interests of his country to favor Trump over Putin is a MORON.

    From before the Steele Dossier was a twinkle in Hillaries eye anyone with the least bit of intelligence KNEW that Clinton’s policies were far more favorable to Russia that Trump’s.

    Many of us criticised Trump for his fawning towards Putin in 2016. There was no possible chance that Putin was going to sabotage Clinton’s campaign by exposing her perfidity. If as is likely Putin had dirt that would be damaging to Clinton – he would use it AFTER she was elected to weaken her and to tweak her. There is no way Putin would use it to put into the whitehouse someone who regardless of his favorable views toward Russia had flagship policies that were completely at odds to Russia interests.

    But this is typical of the purportedly educated elite left – make absolutely absurd and illogical claims – and then actually beleive them.

    But them “Joe the Plumber” had more common sense and displayed more ability to think critically than the eventual president of the united states – purportedly one of the smartest people to hold the office.

    Shows what those on the left know about intelligence.

    If you wish to prove to me – and any other rational person that you are intelligent – then your ideas need to be True and they need to work.

    The past year has shown clearly how abysmally stupid the left is.

    We get the typical nonsense about incompetence.

    The incompetence of the current administration is actually believing that the ideological leftist nonsense that the spout will work.

    I can debate you on issue after issue – but i do not need to. Reality has spoken, you have lost. Your ideas DO NOT WORK.

    Your education, your intelligence is deeply flawed – because it accepts things that are not true and acts in ways that do not work.

    Fox is thriving right now – as most of the rest of the media fails – perfectly justifiably.

    Because whatever Fox’s flaws – they are bits of dust in comparison to the mountanous lies and errors of the left media.

    And that is why few of us spend much time criticising Fox.

    We do not waste our time fixating on things that are not important.

  2. I have always suspected that there is a little something ‘off’ with Mystal’s reasoning. The excerpt here has confirmed that suspicion.

  3. I hate people. They are stupid, inconsiderate, preposterous creatures. I hope there is a nuclear war that destroys them all. That would make me so happy.

  4. Lin asks:

    “Aren’t you one who was bemoaning “whataboutism?”. hmmm…..”

    Glad you asked. I do ask “what about?”However, I do so NOT to EXCUSE bad conduct by pointing to similar conduct ignored by my opponent. Pointing to bad conduct never justifies another’s similar conduct.

    Rather, I ask “what about?” to expose my opponent’s *hypocrisy* for complaining about bad conduct or speech while at the same time his ignoring similar bad conduct or speech. I have never made the argument that 2 wrongs make a right.

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