President Trump tweeted his support on Wednesday for Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann’s $250 million defamation lawsuit against the Washington Post, blasting the paper as “fake news” while imploring the teenager to “go get them.”
Trump, directly quoting from Sandmann’s lawsuit, tweeted: “The Washington Post ignored basic journalistic standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump.”
“The Washington Post ignored basic journalistic standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump.” Covington student suing WAPO. Go get them Nick. Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2019
Sandmann was at the center of a media firestorm last month when a confrontation he had in Washington, D.C. with Nathan Phillips, a Native American veteran, went viral. Sandmann was roundly skewered for smirking in Phillips’ face while wearing a Make America Great Again hat, made popular by President Trump. Phillips was in Washington for the Indigenous People’s March while Sandmann and his classmates were in town for the March for Life.
A much longer video of the incident later caused many to reconsider how they viewed the situation, though. A widely-shared article from Robby Soave at Reason.com indicated the students, rather than intentionally invading Phillips’ space, were approached by him as he was banging his drum. The two-hour long video, as Soave pointed out, also called into question whether the students chanted “build the wall,” as Phillips claimed, or said anything racist.
Sandmann’s lawsuit claims the Washington Post published “no less than six false and defamatory articles” about the incident, targeting him because he is a “white, Catholic student” that was wearing a MAGA hat.
On Jan. 22, the Washington Post published an interview in which Phillips said that some of the people associated with Sandmann chanted: “Build that wall, build that wall.” The Post noted that such chants were not audible in the clip and Phillips has denied such chants. And private investigators hired by the Covington Diocese in Kentucky later issued a report stating there was no evidence of the chants.
The lawsuit is seeking the same amount of money Amazon chief Jeff Bezos paid for the paper in 2013. Bezos and the Post have routinely found themselves in the president’s crosshairs, with Trump recently mocking the tech exec’s divorce on Twitter.
The Post told TheWrap it is reviewing the lawsuit and plans to mount “a vigorous defense.”