The leftist print and electronic media have smeared a group of young students with a fake news report based on a snippet of video of an incident in D.C. that went viral before anyone took time to learn the whole story. The hatemongers have lost this battle, however, as onlookers posted video of the entire exchange, and the student most directly attacked responded with a polite, honoring statement explaining his point of view on what happened to him and his classmates. Bravo, Mr. Sandmann!
By John Friend
Fresh on the heels of a far-left media company claiming erroneously that President Donald Trump had told his former attorney to lie to Congress, a storm of fake news circulated the third weekend in January purporting to show a group of entitled, pro-Trump boys disrespecting an elderly Native American.
The story had all of the hallmarks of the phony modern narrative the anti-Trump media loves to promote. Here was a group of young, mostly white males supposedly shouting, “Build the wall,” and mocking a minority group, in this case, Native Americans, one of whom falsely claimed to be a Vietnam veteran. Partial video footage of the encounter, which supposedly proved the reports’ veracity, went viral on social media and was picked up by countless mainstream media outlets in a blatantly dishonest attempt to portray the high school students, who had just participated in a pro-life rally in the nation’s capital earlier that day, as entitled, disrespectful, hateful bigots.
It turns out, that is not at all what happened.
In the age of cellphones, individuals who were on the scene at the time posted video to the Internet that showed that none of what the media and far-left activists online were claiming actually happened.
So what really took place?
At 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 18, a group of mostly white high school students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, many of whom were wearing President Donald Trump’s iconic red “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hat, arrived at the Lincoln Memorial with adult chaperones to wait for their bus to travel back to Kentucky.
Upon arriving at the Memorial, four protesters from a crazy group that calls itself the Black Hebrew Israelites began engaging the boys, taunting them and calling them vulgar, hateful names. In response, the students began chanting school spirit songs that are normally reserved for high school football and basketball games.
Soon thereafter, a group of Native American protesters, who were also at the Memorial for an event, confronted the students and began chanting and playing a drum.
The partial video footage initially picked up by the fake news media only shows the students chanting at the Native American protesters, giving the false impression that the high school students confronted and surrounded the Native Americans. Media narratives emerged contending that the students were disrespectful, racist, and bigoted, when in reality they were simply waiting for their bus to arrive and were themselves confronted by both the Black Hebrew Israelite protesters and the Native American protesters. It was made worse by the fact that the elderly Native American man in the picture, Nathan Phillips, told media outlets that the children were shouting “build the wall” at him during the encounter—a claim that has been disproven by video that shows the entire encounter from start to finish.
Phillips is a member of the American Indian Movement, or AIM, which has a long history of provocations, including a now-infamous incident at an Indian reservation in South Dakota that resulted in the deaths of two federal law enforcement agents.
Left-leaning activists and personalities were outraged at the footage, with many prominent figures calling for the students to be “doxxed”—having their personal information exposed online in an attempt to defame, slander, and harass the students—while others called for violence.
“The reply from the school was pathetic and impotent,” Kathy Griffin, a radical left-wing, anti-Trump actress, tweeted following the incident. “Name these kids. I want names. Shame them.”
Jack Morrissey, a well-known Disney film producer, posted an image on Twitter of a fictional person being shoved into a woodchipper with fake blood spewing from the machine with the caption: “#MAGAkids go screaming, hats first, into the woodchipper.” The tweet has since been deleted, but not before it caught the attention of numerous journalists and social media users.
It was so bad that some of the students’ names and home addresses were uncovered by liberal activists. Nick Sandmann, the boy who can be seen awkwardly smiling at Phillips in the commonly posted video of the incident, has received death threats and other forms of harassment and ridicule following this dishonest media reporting.
Following the publication of more detailed and objective analyses of the encounter, which gave a fuller picture of what really transpired, a number of journalists and pundits have had to apologize for their rush to judgment of the high school students.
Nick Sandmann issued a public statement describing his experience at the memorial and what has transpired in the aftermath.
[You can read Sandmann’s full statement below this story.]
President Trump has offered support for the students, tweeting that the students were “treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false—smeared by media.” In a separate tweet, the president lambasted the fake news media for disseminating the highly distorted and dishonest narrative that initially emerged.
“Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of fake news and how evil it can be,” Trump tweeted. “They have captivated the attention of the world, and I know they will use it for the good—maybe even to bring people together.”
John Friend is a freelance author based in California.
Fake News Blows Up in Media’s Face: 16-year-old schools media, activists after being smeared by hatemongers
The following statement was written by Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School junior who was attacked and smeared in the mainstream media and on the Internet on Jan. 20 when far-left activists, celebrities, and national media outlets parroted totally false information concerning a protest Sandmann and his fellow classmates found themselves in near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
I am providing this factual account of what happened on Friday afternoon at the Lincoln Memorial to correct misinformation and outright lies being spread about my family and me. I am the student in the video who was confronted by the Native American protestor. I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 4:30 p.m. I was told to be there by 5:30 p.m., when our buses were due to leave Washington for the trip back to Kentucky. We had been attending the March for Life rally, and then had split up into small groups to do sightseeing.
When we arrived, we noticed four African American protestors who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure what they were protesting, and I did not interact with them. I did hear them direct derogatory insults at our school group.
The protestors said hateful things. They called us “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers,” “faggots,” and “incest kids.” They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would “harvest his organs.” I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear.
Because we were being loudly attacked and taunted in public, a student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin our school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group. The chants are commonly used at sporting events. They are all positive in nature and sound like what you would hear at any high school. Our chaperone gave us permission to use our school chants. We would not have done that without obtaining permission from the adults in charge of our group.
At no time did I hear any student chant anything other than the school spirit chants. I did not witness or hear any students chant “build that wall” or anything hateful or racist at any time. Assertions to the contrary are simply false. Our chants were loud because we wanted to drown out the hateful comments that were being shouted at us by the protestors.
After a few minutes of chanting, the Native American protestors, who I hadn’t previously noticed, approached our group. The Native American protestors had drums and were accompanied by at least one person with a camera.
The protestor everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path. He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face. I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.
I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.
During the period of the drumming, a member of the protestor’s entourage began yelling at a fellow student that we “stole [Indian] land” and that we should “go back to Europe.” I heard one of my fellow students begin to respond. I motioned to my classmate and tried to get him to stop engaging with the protestor, as I was still in the mindset that we needed to calm down tensions.
I never felt like I was blocking the Native American protestor. He did not make any attempt to go around me. It was clear to me that he’d singled me out for a confrontation, although I’m not sure why.
The engagement ended when one of our teachers told me the buses had arrived and it was time to go. I obeyed my teacher and simply walked to the buses. At that moment, I thought I had diffused the situation by remaining calm, and I was thankful nothing physical had occurred.
I never understood why either of the two groups of protestors were engaging with us, or exactly what they were protesting at the Lincoln Memorial. We were simply there to meet a bus, not become central players in a media spectacle. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever encountered any sort of public protest, let alone this kind of confrontation or demonstration.
I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me—to remain respectful of others and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence.
I harbor no ill will for this person. I respect this person’s right to protest and engage in free speech activities, and I support his chanting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial any day of the week. I believe he should re-think his tactics of invading the personal space of others, but that is his choice to make.
I am being called every name in the book, including a racist, and I will not stand for this mob-like character assassination of my family’s name. My parents were not on the trip, and I strive to represent my family in a respectful way in all public settings.
I have received physical and death threats via social media, as well as hateful insults. One person threatened to harm me at school, and one person claims to live in my neighborhood. My parents are receiving death and professional threats because of the social media mob that has formed over this issue.
I love my school, my teachers and my classmates. I work hard to achieve good grades and to participate in several extracurricular activities. I am mortified that so many people have come to believe something that did not happen—that students from my school were chanting or acting in a racist fashion toward African Americans or Native Americans. I did not do that, do not have hateful feelings in my heart, and did not witness any of my classmates doing that.
I cannot speak for everyone, only for myself. But I can tell you my experience with Covington Catholic is that students are respectful of all races and cultures. We also support everyone’s right to free speech.
I am not going to comment on the words or account of Mr. Phillips, as I don’t know him and would not presume to know what is in his heart or mind. Nor am I going to comment further on the other protestors, as I don’t know their hearts or minds, either. I have read that Mr. Phillips is a veteran of the United States Marines. I thank him for his service and am grateful to anyone who puts on the uniform to defend our nation. If anyone has earned the right to speak freely, it is a U.S. Marine veteran.
I can only speak for myself and what I observed and felt at the time. But I would caution everyone passing judgment based on a few seconds of video to watch the longer video clips that are on the Internet, as they show a much different story than is being portrayed by people with agendas.
I provided this account of events to the Diocese of Covington so they may know exactly what happened, and I stand ready and willing to cooperate with any investigation they are conducting.