President Trump said Tuesday that the students from Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School had become symbols of the fake news media in the United States and “how evil it can be.”
“Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be,” the president wrote to his more than 57 million followers on Twitter. “They have captivated the attention of the world, and I know they will use it for the good — maybe even to bring people together. It started off unpleasant, but can end in a dream!”
It was Trump’s second foray into an issue that dominated social media all weekend. On Monday evening, the president tweeted approvingly of Tucker Carlson’s monologue on Covington students, calling out the mainstream media.
“Looking like Nick Sandmann & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false — smeared by media. Not good, but making big comeback!” he said.
On Friday, Sandmann and fellow students were involved in a tense standoff at the Lincoln Memorial with Native Americans in town for the indigenous people’s march. Video of the moment, which appeared to show the students mocking Omaha tribal elder Nathan Phillips, sent many on social media into a fury.
Prominent journalists called the students racist, with some advocating that their personal information be released. One writer for Vulture tweeted his wish to see the teenagers and their parents die.
Longer video which emerged later however painted a more nuanced picture of what happened. In a widely shared article, Reason Editor Robby Soave said the media had botched the story.
“Far from engaging in racially motivated harassment, the group of mostly white, MAGA-hat-wearing male teenagers remained relatively calm and restrained despite being subjected to incessant racist, homophobic, and bigoted verbal abuse by members of the bizarre religious sect Black Hebrew Israelites, who were lurking nearby,” wrote Soave. “Phillips put himself between the teens and the black nationalists, chanting and drumming as he marched straight into the middle of the group of young people.”
11 Media Winners of 2018, From Hope Hicks to Rachel Maddow (Photos)
2018 was a tumultuous year for members of the media. For many, even most, it was a grim period of layoffs, consolidations and paywalls. But for others, it was a year full of triumphs.
Sean Hannity: The Fox News host would have appeared on TheWrap's list of media winners simply for hosting the #1-rated cable news show on TV, but it's his unique personal relationship with President Trump, who he is known to call regularly, that made him the only choice for the top spot.
Bryan Goldberg: In an otherwise ugly year for media, which was marred by layoffs and consolidations, the Bustle kingpin proved a standout success. His acquisitions of Gawker and Mic.com for bargain-basement discounts suggest plans for a burgeoning digital empire.
Los Angeles Times: The iconic LA broadsheet was well on its way to the losers' column under the disastrous leadership of Tronc. The paper, however, was rescued by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong for a half-billion dollars. Now, in swanky new offices, the paper is expanding.
Chris Cuomo: The CNN anchor had always been a standout on the network's morning show, "New Day," but he really came into his own after a move to primetime in June of this year. Cuomo is still way behind his rivals at MSNBC and Fox News, but he has injected new life into the hour, which had been moribund under its earlier host Anderson Cooper.
Hope Hicks: The former White House communications director and Trump whisperer managed to leave the White House scandal-free and with her reputation intact in February. She then landed herself a plush new gig at "new" Fox where she serves as comms chief. Just 30 years old, it's a good bet you'll be hearing more of her in the years to come.
The Washington Examiner: The Trump-leaning D.C. tabloid got a jolt of new energy after poaching New York Post Op-Ed editor Seth Mandel. The paper will also be expanding nationally next year, largely off the carcass of its sister publication The Weekly Standard (which will be shuttered).
Ronan Farrow: Once an obscure MSNBC journalist, Ronan Farrow has rocketed to fame while reporting some of the biggest stories of the MeToo movement. His pieces for the New Yorker on Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman all played a significant role in ending their careers. He nabbed a Pulitzer Prize for his efforts, and — in his spare time — managed to write a bestselling book on foreign policy.
Shari Redstone: The National Amusements super-boss spent much of 2018 scheming against her rival, former CBS chief Les Moonves, and attempting to force a merger between CBS and Viacom. A MeToo scandal put Moonves away for good and now makes the merger a near certainty.
Fox & Friends: President Trump watches the nation's top cable news morning show with near religious devotion. As he has since 2011, he sometimes calls in to offer lengthy monologues about world issues. Segments from the show are regularly repackaged into the president's Twitter feed and can shape news cycles for days. When hosts are upset with him, they have occasionally looked directly into the camera to tell him so.
Rachel Maddow: America in the Trump era has also created a crop of #resistance heroes, with the brightest star being Rachel Maddow. The MSNBC host expounds nightly on the latest details of the Russia probe and delivers lurid speculation about how the latest scandal will be the one to take the president down. Maddow and her program have been rewarded in the ratings, making her the most significant (non-Fox) anchor in cable news by far.
Megyn Kelly: Yes, she may have lost her NBC show. But the ratings had been sagging and everyone agreed it was a bad fit anyway. Now the former "Today" star is poised to walk with a roughly $30-million severance package, and if you don't think a tell-all book is coming, you haven't been paying attention.