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May 26, 2019

Covington Catholic student sues CNN for $275 million over coverage of viral incident on Lincoln Memorial steps

March 13, 2019
Located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia next to Centennial Olympic Park, the CNN Center is the world headquarters of the Cable News Network (CNN). (Veni / Getty Images)

Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann, who faced down Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in January, has made good on his promise to continue suing news outlets for their coverage — slapping a $275 million lawsuit against CNN on Tuesday.

“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,” lawyer L. Lin Wood wrote in the suit filed in the Eastern District of Kentucky, and obtained by WCPO of Cincinnati.


This is the second suit against a major news outlet for coverage of the events of Jan. 18, when Phillips waded into a crowd of 50-70 teens who were return-heckling four or five Black Hebrew Israelites, a group whose members claim to be descended from ancient Israelites. The first one was filed for $250 million against The Washington Post Feb. 19.

Phillips had participated in the Indigenous People’s March, which ended at the memorial, and the high school students were waiting for their buses home to Covington, Kentucky, after a school-sponsored trip to attend the Right to Life March.

Sandmann was wearing a red MAGA hat, which stands for Make America Great Again, a motto of the Trump campaign. Phillips, playing a drum and singing a prayer song, started making his way up the steps toward the top of the monument, he told The News at the time. He felt the need to defuse what he saw as mounting tension between the dozens of raucous teens and the African-Americans who were haranguing passersby.

What happened next was recorded on video from numerous angles, causing an international firestorm. The crowd parted as Phillips moved through, until he came face to face with Sandmann. Phillips continued playing and singing, while Sandmann stood there with what looked like a smirk. The two locked eyes for several minutes.

The initial video went viral, as did subsequent films from numerous angles, including a two-hour one that showed the entire incident from start to finish.

Sandmann has since said he wishes he had simply walked away.

Wood told Fox News that CNN’s coverage was “vicious” and amounted to “direct attacks” on Sandmann.

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