Trump uses Twitter to endorse Covington student’s lawsuit against The Washington Post

March 4, 2019

A Kentucky teen and his family have sued The Washington Post, seeking $250 million in damages for its coverage of his involvement in an encounter with a Native American advocate at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in January.

Filed on Feb. 19, the complaint alleges that The Post “targeted and bullied” 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann because he was white, Catholic and wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap in order to advance the paper’s biased agenda against President Donald Trump.

“In a span of three days in January of this year commencing on January 19, the Post engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism by competing with CNN and NBC, among others, to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies with attacked, vilified, and threatened Nicholas Sandmann, an innocent secondary school child,” states the complaint.

The complaint cites seven articles published by The Post between Jan. 19 and 21, as well as the tweets posted to promote the articles. On Friday, March 1, The Washington Post released an Editor’s note about its coverage around Sandmann and his Covington Catholic High School schoolmates, saying additional reporting, statements and video allowed for “a more complete assessment of what occurred.”

The day after the suit was filed, President Trump tweeted out his support for the lawsuit and repeating his refrain that The Post is “fake news.”

Trump has had a combative relationship with the Post since at least December 2015, referring to it as a “scam,” “phony” and “fake news.” The president has also repeatedly maligned the news outlet indirectly by referring to it as the “#AmazonWashingtonPost” and targeting the newspaper’s owner, Jeff Bezos.

The family is seeking $250 million in damages because, the complaint states, that is the amount Bezos paid for the newspaper when he purchased it in 2013.

— The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected]

July 26, 2019 Update

On July 26, 2019, Kentucky Federal Judge William O. Bertelsman dismissed a $250 million libel suit against The Washington Post, the paper reported.

The suit was brought in March by Nicholas Sandmann and his family after the high schooler was part of the new organization’s coverage of marches at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington that went viral.

The judge ruled that the Post’s articles and tweets were protected under the First Amendment.

“From our first story on this incident to our last, we sought to report fairly and accurately the facts that could be established from available evidence, the perspectives of all of the participants, and the comments of the responsible church and school officials,” Shani George, The Post’s director of communications said in its report on the ruling. “We are pleased that the case has been dismissed.”

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