Young Nicholas Sandmann, the Catholic student from Kentucky who became the target of a nationwide smear campaign thanks to the fake-news-media, has now been the victim of ajudge’s politically motivated decision. He will appeal.
By Donald Jeffries
William Bertelsman, an elderly federal judge in Kentucky, nominated to the bench by President Jimmy Carter, dismissed beleaguered Catholic teenager Nicholas Sandmann’s $250 million lawsuit against The Washington Post in late July. Incredibly, the judge ruled that the Post’s First Amendment rights allowed it to publish the opinion of Native American “elder” Nathan Phillips, whose fanciful account of the incident outside Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Memorial earlier this year helped portray Sandmann and his fellow students as entitled, disrespectful beneficiaries of “white privilege.”
The fact that the full video of the incident revealed Phillips to have completely distorted the events, and that it exposed the real instigators as a group of vile, racist Black Hebrew Israelites, evidently held no importance to Bertelsman.
“The Court accepts Sandmann’s statement that, when he was standing motionless in the confrontation with Philips his intent was to calm the situation and not to impede or block anyone,” Bertelsman wrote in his opinion. “However, Phillips did not see it that way. He concluded that he was being ‘blocked’ and not allowed to ‘retreat.’ He passed these conclusions on to the Post. They may have been erroneous, but . . . they are opinion protected by the First Amendment.
And the Post is not liable for publishing these opinions, for the reasons discussed in this Opinion.” So, in the words of this powerful judge, accuracy is of no significance in news reporting, even if inaccurate reporting results in reputations being damaged.
Bertelsman is clearly not averse to individuals suing media outlets over unfair reporting. In 2009, NFL cheerleader Sarah Jones filed suit against the website “thedirty.com,” claiming that it had published malicious gossip depicting her as promiscuous and alleging that she’d even transmitted venereal diseases to others. The website owners, like the Post, moved to dismiss the case, arguing reasonably that it had immunity from material authored by third-party, often anonymous sources. In this case, Bertelsman didn’t dismiss, but allowed the suit to go forward.
An interesting comparison arises here. The same judge who ruled an NFL cheerleader had possibly been defamed by anonymous posters on an Internet site dismissed a lawsuit from an underage high-school student who had been openly mocked, threatened, and clearly cast into a “bad guy” role that wasn’t in line with the facts. The difference, of course, is that the defendant in Sandmann’s first suit was one of the most powerful organs in the state-controlled mainstream media.
In Sandmann’s case, triggered members of the public attempted to contact his prospective colleges and demand they not accept his application, and there were countless violent memes all over social media, laughingly suggesting he be punched in the face. Meanwhile, there was no such saturation coverage of “Elder” Phillips when it was discovered that he hadn’t served in Vietnam, as he claimed repeatedly in early interviews, that he had a violent criminal record, and that he possessed an obvious anti-Catholic bias, as only a short time before the incident with the Covington teens he had attempted to lead protesters into disrupting mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Lost in all the defamatory, misleading news coverage of the event was the fact that Sandmann and his classmates were on a simple field trip to attend a March for Life event in the nation’s capital. As a result of the heavy, biased coverage, even their own faculty at Covington High School, as well as the Catholic Diocese of Covington, originally blamed and condemned the students.
Sandmann’s attorneys had initially asked for an apology and retraction from the Post and other outlets like CNN and CBS, against whom lawsuits remain to be heard. The Post hardly sounded contrite when it published a statement reading, in part, “subsequent reporting, a student’s statement, and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that [January 18] story.” There would be no apology or retraction.
This author exchanged emails with one of Sandmann’s attorneys last week. Asked for his impressions of this rather surprising opinion, Todd McMurtry replied: “Yes, it was disappointing to lose the initial case. We all think the court’s opinion is flawed and that we have a strong shot to turn this around on appeal. We will see.”
Another of Sandmann’s attorneys, Lin Wood, reacted to the outrageous decision in a tweet: “If you wonder how and why our public discourse has deteriorated to its present level, look no further than the order issued in Nicholas’s defamation case against WaPo protecting negligent publication of false and vicious accusations against a minor child. The order must be reversed.
Donald Jeffries is a highly respected author and researcher whose work on the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations and other high crimes of the Deep State has been read by millions of people across the world. Jeffries is also the author of three books currently being sold by the AFP Online Store.