Though it may be hard to believe — given that time is a flat circle — it’s been a month since the viral video of a group of MAGA hat-wearing high school boys and tribal elder Nathan Phillips made the rounds. As with everything in the whipped-up frenzy of the modern news cycle, the story was everywhere for about a week before it essentially disappeared.
Or… we thought it disappeared. Today the Washington Post reported that they’re being sued for defamation by Nicholas Sandmann’s family to the tune of $250 million. Sandmann, if you don’t remember, is the smirking kid at the center of the video. According to the Post, the suit claims the newspaper was “targeting and bullying” Sandmann “because he was white and Catholic.” They further allege that the newspaper covered Sandmann specifically “in order to embarrass President Trump” and call the Post‘s coverage of the viral video “modern-day McCarthyism.”
Buzzfeed News clarified that the complaint claims that in failing to verify the “context” of the viral video, the newspaper misrepresented Sandmann’s role in the confrontation, and “as a result…[he] has faced threats, bullying, and damage to his reputation.”
The lawsuit alleges the following:
[The Post] wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump (“the President”) by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President. […] [The paper did so by] using its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles which effectively provided a worldwide megaphone to Phillips and other anti-Trump individuals and entities to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the President.
It’s a lengthy document and it states, among other things, that Sandmann is not political in any way, shape, or form, despite the fact that he (along with many of the other boys he was with) was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. Further, they allege that the Post presented Sandmann as the aggressor without good reason. (For what it’s worth, the Post‘s media reporter Erik Wemple kept a close eye on how numerous major media outlets covered the confrontation as more information was made available.)
The Post has reported that the suit, filed on behalf of Sandmann by his parents, is asking for a quarter of a billion dollars because that’s what Amazon founder and Post owner Jeff Bezos paid for the publication when he purchased it in 2013.
President Donald Trump tweeted a quote from the filing earlier today, along with the message, “Go get them Nick. Fake News!”
Post spokesperson Kristine Coratti Kelly has said, “We are reviewing a copy of the lawsuit, and we plan to mount a vigorous defense.”