Sandmann attorneys blast Washington Post editor’s note on Covington: ‘Too little and too late’
Attorneys for Nicholas Sandmann said Monday they would proceed with their $250 million defamation lawsuit against the Washington Post, blasting the newspaper’s recent clarification on its Covington Catholic coverage as “too little and too late.”
The Washington Post published an editor’s note and deleted a tweet related to its coverage of the Jan. 18 encounter between the 16-year-old Sandmann and the Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips, but did not issue an apology, correction or retraction.
“The Post’s efforts were too little and too late,” said the Monday statement from attorneys L. Lin Wood of Atlanta and Todd V. McMurtry of Kentucky.
“The Friday night efforts by the Post to whitewash its wrongdoing were untimely, grossly insufficient and did little more than perpetuate the lies it published lies that will haunt and adversely impact Nicholas for the rest of his life,” said the statement.
In addition to the editor’s note, the attorneys said they received Friday a letter from Washington Post general counsel Jay Kennedy, who defended the newspaper’s coverage of the incident.
Below is a statement released today by Lin Wood @LLinWood and me on behalf of Nicholas Sandmann responding to the Friday night actions of The Washington Post. #nicholassandmann #nicksandmann #CovingtonCatholic https://t.co/NaUTbmQyrG Todd V. McMurtry (@FitLwyr) March 4, 2019
“The Post ignored its own culpability and wrongdoing,” the statement said. “Mr. Kennedy’s letter stated that the Post ‘provided accurate coverage.’ It did not and its belated public relations efforts change nothing and fool no one. The Post made no effort to retract and correct the lies it published.”
In its Friday editor’s note, the Post acknowledged that developments after its initial Jan. 19 stories, including the release of a lengthier video, allowed for “a more complete assessment of what occurred” at the Lincoln Memorial.
“Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story including that Native American activist Nathan Phillips was prevented by one student from moving on, that his group had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the encounter, and that the students were trying to instigate a conflict,” said the editor’s note.
The group of teenage boys waiting for buses back to Covington, Kentucky, was initially accused of instigating the contact and harassing Mr. Phillips, but subsequent video showed the teens were approached by Mr. Phillips and several other adults.
Mr. Sandmann, who wore a red Make America Great Again, became the symbol of the incident after video showed him standing face to face with Mr. Phillips as the older man sang and beat a drum.
Before Mr. Phillips entered their cheer circle, the teens had been taunted with homophobic and racial slurs by a handful of Black Hebrew Israelite activists.
The Post’s note continued: “The high school student facing Phillips issued a statement contradicting his account; the bishop in Covington, Ky., apologized for the statement condemning the students; and an investigation conducted for the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School found the students’ accounts consistent with videos.”
The Post has issued an Editor’s Note about updates to its initial coverage of the Jan. 18 incident at the Lincoln Memorial: https://t.co/rhzKZ1715KWe’ve also deleted this Jan. 19 tweet in light of later developments. For more, see the Editor’s Note. pic.twitter.com/O7qCSnBMPO The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 1, 2019
The attorneys have sent letters warning of a potential lawsuit to 54 entities, including news outlets, reporters, celebrities, politicians and diocese, but the lawsuit filed two weeks ago against the Washington Post was the first.
According to the Sandmann attorneys, the editor’s note showed that the Post “has learned no lesson and remains willing in the future to falsely attack others to further its political agenda, including false attacks on children.”
“The Post has now double-downed on its lies,” they said in the statement. “As Nicholas’s lawyers, we will now double down on truth and aggressively continue our legal efforts to hold the Post accountable and obtain justice for Nicholas in a court of law.”
A spokeswoman for the newspaper said it will fight the lawsuit filed by Nicholas Sandmann and his parents.
Mr. Wood, a prominent defense lawyer, has previously represented the family of 1996 murder victim JonBenet Ramsey and Richard Jewell, who was initially suspected the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta but later cleared.