Covington student, Nicholas Sandermann’s $250 million defamation case against The Washington Post was dismissed late last month, after a federal judge ruled that the Washington Post hadn’t slandered Sandermann in its reporting of the infamous, so-called “standoff” between himself and Native American, Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Saurabh Sharma of the Dailycaller said the “judge threw out the case” saying that The Washington Post didn’t defame the Covington students, but were irresponsible with their use of “loose, figurative,” and “rhetorical hyperbole”. [i]
This is despite The Washington Post, along with some Twitter users and others within the mainstream media, using short viral video clips of the event, to portray the MAGA hat-wearing school kids as racists.
Rollingstone, while acknowledging that the incident seemed to have been provoked by members of the Black Israelite movement, was also quick to draw the racist narrative around the Covington School students, stating, “the video is a disturbing and eerie echo of angry white mobs yelling at Black Americans for protesting Jim Crow-era discrimination.”[ii]
While Buzzfeed managed to steer around defaming the students, it’s obvious that Buzzfeed reporters shared similar conclusions. By using viral video clips from the event, they upheld the presumption of guilt, by inferring that racist claims made against the Catholic students we legitimate.
The initial Buzzfeed article made specific mention of the student’s ethnicity, pointing out that “nearly all were white and wearing pro-Trump gear, chanting at and mocking Native American, Nation Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.”[iii]
Buzzfeed also appears to have supported interpretations drawn from one of the videos of the students, which claimed that Sandermann was “smirking” in a “racist way” at Phillips, who was branded a peacemaker during the incident. Like many in the mainstream media, this was apparently enough proof for Buzzfeed to spread the newspeak narrative of white privilege, hate, oppression and racism: the Covington students were white, Christian, and Trump supporters, ergo they must also be racists.
Buzzfeed updated their original piece with a link to a video which shows “more context”, admitting that the incident “was more confusing than the viral clips made it seem”. Buzzfeed also reported that teen’s family will be appealing the decision to dismiss the case, with one of the family’s lawyers saying, “the law must protect innocent minors targeted by journalists publishing clickbait sensationalized news.”
The Washington Post, like many of the Left’s leaders on Twitter, did the equivalent of whipping the crowd up into a frenzy, handing them a lynch rope, then when the facts came to light, quietly slipped out the back door. Later to be dismissed from having to take any responsibility because of an appeal to freedom of speech, and literary license.
The case dismissal is good news for The Washington Post. The outcome could also be viewed as good news for the future of freedom of speech.
However, it’s doubtful that the reasons for this “win”, based on an appeal to first amendments rights and literary license, will be allowed as a defence for Pastors and Christian writers when producing literature that criticizes sin from a Biblically Christian perspective.
Especially when their publications involve proclaiming The Gospel in its unique redemptive critique of human sin such as greed, adultery, homosexuality, pride, envy, slander, idolatry – a critique now largely rejected and found “hateful” and “harmful” by the Left, because of its no questions asked embrace of the LGBT religion, Islamism and related regressive, progressive ideologies.
[i] Sharma, S. 2019. The Washington Post Won Its Case Against The Covington Catholic Kids, But A Federal Judge Had Some Choice Words For The Outlet, Daily Caller, 12th August, 2019
[ii] Wade, P. 2019. Judge Dismisses Covington Student’s Lawsuit Against ‘Washington Post’ RollingStone, 27th July, 2019
[iii] Reinstein, J. & Baer, S.K. 2019. The MAGA Hat–Wearing Teens Who Taunted A Native American Elder Could Be Expelled Buzzfeed, 19th January, 2019.