Nick Sandmann has spent the past few years in headlines over a single incident in 2019. A video from that incident went viral, but Sandmann has said that the video, and media coverage of it, portrayed him in an unfairly negative light, and that his reputation and future were damaged by major media networks covering the story. He sued for defamation in 2020. There’s finally a verdict — and it’s not in his favor.
Sandmann has been held up as an example of a MAGA adherent responding to the news media’s portrayal of the movement, and getting a win against the ‘liberal media.’ Kyle Rittenhouse, after being found ‘not guilty’ on murder charges stemming from a Black Lives Matter protest, has cited Sandmann as an act to follow, with regard to the lawsuits he says he’s going to file against people who called him a ‘racist’ and ‘murderer.’
However, Sandmann didn’t get the verdict he was seeking. Law & Crime reports that, while two networks settled with Sandmann earlier in the proceedings, the five remaining cases are being dismissed.
All parties moved for various forms of summary judgment, and a judge agreed to dismiss the cases by agreeing with the five media defendants and disagreeing with Sandmann’s attorneys.
The initial reports of the story came with video showing Sandmann appearing to be in a standoff with a Native American man. Sandmann says he was unfairly portrayed as the aggressor.
Nick Sandmann: "The media portrayed me as an aggressor with a relentless smirk on my face." pic.twitter.com/MjZAknkuQR
— The Recount (@therecount) August 26, 2020
He sued a slate of media for their reporting, but ultimately, many of the statements reported — such as that of Nathan Phillips, who Sandmann was described as blocking — were deemed to be opinion statements, placing them outside the question of defamation, and others were found not to be actionable for various reasons.
Notably, Phillips’ take on the encounter was quite different from Sandmann’s.
‘What I understood that day was returning hate with love’ — Native American activist Nathan Phillips is sharing the story behind his now-infamous confrontation with Covington High School student Nicholas Sandmann, who secured a speaking slot at the 2020 RNC pic.twitter.com/hVAgdzM5HI
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) August 26, 2020
Sandmann still managed to springboard from that event into political life, speaking at Republican conventions and working on political campaigns. Still, if Rittenhouse or any young MAGAs thought that Sandmann was providing the blueprint for silencing media and netting a payday at the same time, this judgment seems to suggest they’ll need to try a different path.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com