On Monday's Early Start, as CNN caught up on informing viewers about how the infamous exchange between MAGA hat-wearing Kentucky high school students and Native American protester Nathan Phillips began, co-host Dave Briggs seemed unconvinced with Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann denying that he had taunted the Native American activist and war veteran as Briggs also blamed the presence of MAGA hats for "causing an overreaction" by protesters.
During the two-hour show, a full report of almost four minutes by correspondent Sara Sidner ran three times in which she recalled Sandmann's side of the story as he asserted that he stood calmly and smiled to try to "defuse the situation" after Phillips approached and stood near him while beating his drum.
Sidner also showed clips of several black religious activists taunting the high school students and their MAGA hats which sparked the tense interaction. At 5:11 a.m. Eastern, after Sidner's report ended, Briggs commented: "The MAGA hats clearly caused an overreaction by everyone on both sides."
The CNN host then showed doubts about whether Sandmann really was being respectful with his facial expression as the Catholic student claimed, or if he was actually mocking the Native American activist as he added: "That young man there does not look like someone who is appreciative and considerate of this culture and this chant going on." As fill-in co-host Laura Jarrett began speaking, it sounded like Briggs added that "he put out an explanation there."
Briggs then acknowledged that "there are two sides to the story" and that many "overreacted" to the video too soon as he also took another shot at the MAGA hats. Here was Briggs: "The problem is, we all overreact so instantly with these stories, and now the MAGA hats stand for a certain thing to a lot of people."
When Sidner's report ran about half an hour earlier, Briggs also noted the role of the MAGA hats and commented: "But it does look like that young man to me is taunting the Native American Vietnam vet, and he's in his face."
The CNN host further complained: "And these young kids, if they weren't taunting him, they need to be educated on what is racially discriminatory."