A federal judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by Nicholas Sandmann against The Washington Post on Friday.
A student at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, Sandmann was captured in a viral video documenting a contentious encounter he had with a Native American activist in January. Sandmann’s $250-million lawsuit stated that the Post had “wrongfully targeted and bullied Nicholas because he was a white, Catholic student wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ souvenir cap” at his school’s field trip to a March For Life event in Washington, D.C. The suit said that the Post defamed Sandmann in its articles for suggesting that he “assaulted and/or physically intimidated” the Native American activist, “engaged in racist conduct,” and “engaged in taunts,” among other behaviors.
But in Judge William Bertelsen’s ruling, the judge concluded that “Sandmann’s allegation attempts to insert innuendo not found within … the publication,” and that his claims were “not supported by the plain language in the article, which states none of these things.” (Bertelsen extended this analysis of one of the Post’s articles to the remainder of the pieces and Tweets which were included in Sandmann’s lawsuit.)
In a statement sent to The Wrap, the Post said it was “pleased” the case was dismissed and reiterated that the paper “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.” Sandmann’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As of Friday afternoon, Sandmann’s lawsuits against CNN and NBC over their coverage are still outstanding.