Can the Covington CNN Lawsuit Save the Media From Itself?

The bill of particulars goes on for a full 58 pages. Here is the headline over at the Daily Caller: “Sandmann’s Second Defamation Suit Hits Cnn for $275 Million.” 

“Sandmann,” of  course, is sixteen-year old Nicholas Sandmann, the young Covington, Kentucky teen who found himself at the center of a viral video media storm that seemed to depict him as confronting an elderly Native American at the end of the annual pro-life march in January.

The video, as it turned out, was wildly incomplete. In fact, it was the Native American man, Nathan Phillips, who confronted Nicholas, pounding a drum inches from the boy’s face. This after a group of far-left wingers calling themselves the “Black Israelites” hurled racial and homophobic at the Covington kids, the latter merely waiting for their bus home to Kentucky. Young Nick, wearing a souvenir red “Make America Great Hat” simply smiled politely.

But hey —  who cares about facts? One outlet after another in the Leftist State Media —  the LSM - proceeded to quickly judge Nick, repeatedly and falsely slamming him as a young thug and a racist. This went on —  and on and on - with adults - journalist adults- blithely ignoring the journalism 101 basic of getting all the facts before reporting an event. It was a spectacular example of “fake news.”  And now, the piper —  in this case Nick’s lawyers —  are coming to be paid.

First up was the Washington Post —  with a $250 million lawsuit filed against the paper. This past week it was CNN’s turn. The price tag for CNN - newly acquired by AT&T —  is a $275 million lawsuit.

Here’s the actual suit which makes fascinating reading. The Daily Caller summarizes it this way: 

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Kentucky and read, in part:

‘In short, the false and defamatory gist of CNN’s collective reporting conveyed to its viewers and readers that Nicholas was the face of an unruly hate mob of hundreds of white racist high school students who physically assaulted, harassed, and taunted two different minority groups engaged in peaceful demonstrations, preaching, song, and prayer.’

The suit addresses four television broadcasts and nine articles specifically, alleging that they contain statements toward or about Sandmann that are defamatory. Nick’s lawyer, L. Lin Wood, tweeted this: 

 

 

Who could possibly have guessed as the year began that the Leftist State Media and its rabid obsession with reporting fake news that always glorifies the Left would get a lesson it may never forget - at the hands of a 16-year old boy from Covington, Kentucky?  Let’s take a dip into the actual lawsuit.  Among other things it says: 

8. In 2017, suffering from a public perception that it had deteriorated from being recognized as a source of hard news to being considered a mere echo chamber for manipulated and politicized commentary and “fake news,” CNN launched a new branding campaign, “Facts First,” which is pinned to the top of its Twitter social media page.

9. From at least as early as the November 2016 election of Donald J. Trump as 
the 45th President of the United States, CNN has maintained a well-known and easily 
documented biased agenda against President Trump and established a history of 
impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President.

10.Prior to January 2018, President Trump publicly and repeatedly branded 
CNN as the poster child of“fake news.”

11. Between January 19 and January 25, 2019, CNN brought down the full force 
of its corporate power, influence, and wealth on Nicholas by falsely attacking, vilifying,
and bullying him despite the fact that he was a minor child. 

...

28. CNN elevated false, heinous accusations of racist conduct against Nicholas 
from social media to its worldwide news platform without adhering to well-established 
journalistic standards and ethics, including its failure to take the required steps
to ensure accuracy, fairness, completeness, fact-checking, neutrality, and heightened sensitivity when dealing with a minor. 

29. Exposing the shallowness of its “Facts First” public relations branding ploy, CNN got the “Facts Last” as it repeatedly, recklessly, and willfully violated basic, fundamental 
standards of journalistic integrity.

Well. 

What young Nick Sandmann is contributing here, against the will of CNN and the Washington Post is a call for American journalists to abandon their liberalism and return to just-the-facts reporting. There is plenty of room for liberal commentary —  and conservative commentary —  in the right place. The right place being the place where the commentators have been provided by journalists with the basic facts of a story.

But there should be no place for deliberately and willfully making up facts, inventing fake stories out of whole cloth just to satisfy a political whim. In the case at hand CNN is being charged, in essence, with being so obsessed with its hatred for President Trump that it was willing to go to any length to attack him. And if that meant using 16-year-old Nick Sandmann as a cudgel to go after the president, well then, too bad for young Nick.

The other day, CNN’s President Jeff Zucker appeared at a confab of leftists known as the South by Southwest (SXSW) and said, in part, this of competitor Fox News, bold print for emphasis supplied:

“Frankly, it is really state-run TV. It is a pure propaganda machine and I think does an incredible disservice to this country. There are a handful of good journalists there, but I think they are lost in what -- what is just a complete propaganda machine, and the idea that it's a news channel is I think really not the case at all. 

…They chose to work at Fox and they don’t get to hide behind the fact that they’re excellent journalists or anchors. The fact is they work at a place that has done tremendous damage to this country.”

What Nick Sandmann’s lawsuit against CNN illustrates vividly is that in fact there is a real belief  out there - beginning with Nick, his parents and their lawyers, that it is CNN - and many others in the Leftist State Media - that did real damage both to the country and one sixteen year old boy in particular. All of this done to push left-wing, anti-Trump propaganda. This was in fact the real “incredible disservice to this country” —  and to Nick Sandmann.

Whatever the outcome of Nick Sandmann’s lawsuit against CNN may be, one would hope that CNN and all the other news outlets being sued for allegations of defective, seriously biased journalism would recall the once-famous words of the fictional Detective Joe Friday in the old radio and television series Dragnet: “The facts ma’am, just the facts.”

With facts in hand, let the opinions roll. But to do this in reverse order —  opinions first, facts later if at all —  is not just wrong. In this very teachable moment for members of the Leftist State Media, courtesy of sixteen year old Nick Sandmann,  CNN and its new AT&T parent are learning it can be very expensive as well. And as expensive for the reputation as it can be for the pocketbook.

Column Covington kids CNN

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