Lawyers for Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann have filed a $275 million lawsuit against CNN claiming that the network defamed Sandmann as part of a drive to gain ratings and continue its battle against President Donald Trump.
“CNN was more than an echo chamber for partisan political views – CNN was a worldwide megaphone for an unmoderated and uninformed social media mob which had begun viciously attacking and physically threatening Nicholas in the hours preceding CNN’s initial reporting,” the 58-page complaint declared.
The complaint did not mince words about the difference between what it said CNN did and what could be expected from a responsible media outlet.
“CNN rushed to take advantage of the viral social media mob to further its anti-Trump agenda and increase the billion-dollar bottom lines of its conglomerate corporate owners by generating eyeballs, clicks, and resulting advertising revenue from its sensationalized broadcasts and online reporting,” the complaint read.
“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,” the complaint said.
CNN did not reply to the various media outlets seeking comment.
Sandmann’s lawyers last month filed a $250 million lawsuit against The Washington Post and have indicated other lawsuits are likely.
Attorney Todd McMurtry said this week on the Fox News show “The Story” that Sandmann’s lawyers will keep filing major lawsuits to address the wrongs inflicted on Sandmann and other Covington students.
The complaint puts CNN’s coverage of the Jan 18 incident in which Sandmann became embroiled in the context of CNN’s battle against Trump.
“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. Prior to January 2018, President Trump publicly and repeatedly branded CNN as the poster child of ‘fake news,’” the complaint stated.
The complaint pictured CNN’s coverage as part of a deliberate campaign.
“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,” the complaint stated.
“Contrary to its ‘Facts First’ public relations ploy, CNN ignored the facts and put its anti-Trump agenda first in waging a 7-day media campaign of false, vicious attacks against Nicholas, a young boy who was guilty of little more than wearing a souvenir Make America Great Again cap while on a high school field trip to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to attend the January 18 March for Life,” the complaint stated.
“CNN’s vicious attack on Nicholas included at least four (4) defamatory television broadcasts and nine (9) defamatory online articles,” the complaint stated, summarizing the reporting that implied Covington students instigated a confrontation with Black Hebrew Israelites and later with Native American activist Nathan Phillips.
The complaint said CNN eschewed any serious effort to get the facts right.
” … (T)he 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 CNN accusations are totally and unequivocally false and CNN would have known them to be untrue had it undertaken any reasonable efforts to verify their accuracy before publication of its false and defamatory accusations,” the complaint stated.
“In fact, it was Nicholas and his CovCath classmates who were bullied, attacked, and confronted with racist and homophobic slurs and threats of violence by the Black Hebrew Israelites, a recognized hate group, before being unexpectedly and unexplainedly confronted by Phillips, an activist, who proceeded to target Nicholas while chanting and beating a drum inches from his face and being flanked by activist companions filming the event (‘the January 18 incident’).”
CNN, the complaint alleged, “repeatedly, recklessly, and willfully violated basic, fundamental standards of journalistic integrity.”
“CNN’s agenda-driven fiction about Nicholas and the January 18 incident was not only false and defamatory, it created an extremely dangerous situation by knowingly triggering the outrage of its audience and unleashing that outrage on Nicholas and his CovCath classmates with its patently false accusations that Nicholas and the other students engaged in acts of racism and bigotry,” the complaint added.
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