Nicholas Sandmann’s lawsuit against CNN will proceed to discovery, a federal judge has ruled. This will be a devastating blow to CNN, which will now have all of its emails examined by lawyers for a severely wronged client.
Sandmann was one of the the high school student falsely accused of a racially-motivated attack against Nathan Phillips in Washington, D.C. Phillips was called a “Vietnam veteran” by the media, when in fact Philips was stolen valor. He never served in the Vietnam War and he was discharged from the military under circumstances suggesting a poor service record.
Sandmann sued CNN for lying about him.
Sandmann had been confronted earlier by a group known as the Black Hebrew Israelites – the group responsible for the deadly terrorist attack at a New Jersey Deli.
CNN wasn’t the only outlet to attack Sandmann. The National Review’s Rich Lowry and Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro joined the hate mob against Sandmann – although they at least sort-of apologized after realizing they had been hoaxed by the left wing media. (Why do those guys trust the media would be a good question for conservatives to ask them.)
Although the judge’s ruling was short, the court’s rationale was explained in the orders allowing Sandmann’s lawsuit to go forward against the Washington Post.
You can read my reporting on Sandmann v. Washington Post below, as the judge’s rationale and other policy considerations apply to the lawsuit against CNN….and if you enjoy this article, you can donate to our journalism here.
The lawsuit by Nick Sandmann against the Washington Post for its dishonest coverage falsely accusing a 16 year old boy of harassing a Vietnam veteran Nathan Philips (discovered to be “stolen valor”) will go forward, a judge had rules. This is a huge deal because it shows the trend of defamation law is moving in favor of those wrongfully accused by the media.
The gist of the story vs. the specific assertions.
In defamation law, courts usually look to the overall “gist” or “feel” of a story to determine whether it is defamatory. In lawyer terms, this is known as the substantial-truth doctrine. This is a high hurdle for most plaintiffs to jump.
Also complicating lawsuits by victims of the press is that opinions are protected speech under the First Amendment. You can only sue for false statements of fact. The fact-opinion distinction is confusing even to lawyers, and it’s also a bit disingenuous for newspapers to claim that they can’t be sued for their news articles because the reporters were only sharing opinions.
The gist of the Washington Post’s coverage was awful. The gist was that a 16Donate year old boy attacked a poor helpless Vietnam Veteran. Zero fact-checking was done. And it was later revealed that Nathan Phillips was stolen valor. He never served in the Vietnam war despite claiming he had:
Here’s the full quote, taken from a video of Phillips posted to the Native Youth Alliance Facebook page (9:45 mark): “I’m a Vietnam vet, you know,” Phillips said. “I served in the Marine Corps from ’72 to ’76. I got discharged May 5, 1976. I got honorable discharge and one of the boxes in there shows if you were peacetime or… what my box says that I was in theater. I don’t talk much about my Vietnam times. I usually say ‘I don’t recollect. I don’t recall,’ you know, those years.”
Phillips also ran up to the children to harass and taunt them. Phillips was clearly in the wrong, but the media held him out as a war hero in their effort to ruin the lives of innocent boys.
To this day, Snopes falsely claiming Phillips did not hold himself out as a Vietnam veteran, despite there being video evidence of Phillips himself claiming to have served in Vietnam.
You claim that Nathan Phillips (Covington harasser) never claimed to be a Vietnam veteran.https://t.co/7JLOJXNMSB
Here's a video of Phillips lying about serving in the Vietnam war.https://t.co/4YlYO3bjfE
Will you correct your fake news? pic.twitter.com/YPSNblJKO5
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) October 29, 2019
Looking past the “gist” of the story to the assertions WaPo made about Sandmann.
In the Court’s ruling, the judge looks beyond the gist of the story, and instead examines all 33 statements made by the Washington Post:
The Court first notes that the statements alleged by plaintiff to be defamatory have not changed in the proposed First Amended Complaint. They are the same 33 statements alleged in the original Complaint and set forth in the chart attached to the Court’s July 26, 2019 Opinion and Order (Doc. 47).
The Court will adhere to its previous rulings as they pertain to these statements except Statements 10, 11, and 33, to the extent that these three statements state that plaintiff “blocked” Nathan Phillips and “would not allow him to retreat.” Suffice to say that the Court has given this matter careful review and concludes that “justice requires” that discovery be had regarding these statements and their context. The Court will then consider them anew on summary judgment.
Nick Sandmann’s lawyer reports that the lawsuit against the Washington Post for its smear of the Covington teens can go forward. https://t.co/o15vcswApU
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) October 28, 2019
The Covingtongate ruling is a devastating loss for the Washington Post.
It’s hard to overstate how devastating this ruling is for the Washington Post.
Their coverage was indefensible. Why was an old man (stolen valor) going up to a group of teenagers newsworthy in the first place? What was the news value in what was a petty dispute at best?
We all of course know the answer.
Nick Sandmann was wearing a Make America Great Again hat, and he had to be destroyed.
The Washington Post and other outlets are struggling with what to do with their new social justice activists.
No 40 year old who had reported from war zones would have found the Nicholas Sandmann story worthy of coverage. But as people age out of reporting roles, new reporters must be hired. Legacy newsrooms are being loaded up with 20-somethings who grew up on Gawker.
The Gawker model is destroy destroy destroy – at least if the people you’re targeting is perceived as conservative.
As legal bills mount for the Washington Post, perhaps they’ll begin training new reporters in the proper role of journalists.
Mike Cernovich stood up for the Covington boys while conservatives attacked them.
When videos of Nick Sandmann hit, Ben Shapiro and David French attacked the poor boys. They undid their Retweets after Cernovich was able to get the truth of the story out.
But it’s good to know who stands up for the persecuted when it matters. When it’s hard.
For its part, WaPo accused me of “pouncing” on them:
A viral story spread. The mainstream media rushed to keep up. The Trump Internet pounced.
That outrage came from a parallel universe online, one that has been waiting for a moment like this. The pro-Trump Internet has, for years, worked to create a media environment that is designed to destroy the traditional news media and replace it. Mike Cernovich, a popular figure in this world, helped to promote the Pizzagate conspiracy theory in 2016. Pizzagate falsely accused a D.C. pizza shop of housing a secret pedophile ring, and ultimately inspired a believer to show up at the shop with an assault rifle.
WaPo itself lies about me. My reporting on pedophiles focused on Jeffrey Epstein, not a pizza parlor, and we’ve all seen my Epstein stories vindicated.
But if the WaPo wants to throw barbs about the dangers of fake news, maybe they can explain whey they lied about a 16 year old boy? What were they trying to inspire?
CNN’s Brian Stelter Apologizes for Mistake (Good Man)
Update: Brian Stelter has apologized.
This was a full and unequivocal apology, and all of us should applaud it and remember it when our time to own up to mistakes arises.
(Because that day is coming for all of us, sooner or later.) pic.twitter.com/QWtBLDsK4s
— Essential Cernovich (@Cernovich) June 1, 2020
CNN’s Brian Stelter falsely accused a woman of spreading disinformation tonight, in a Tweet Stelte deleted without apology after it was revealed that Stelter lying.
The lie concerned a fire started by rioters in Washington D.C. Katrina B. Haydon reported that St. John’s church near the White House was on fire.
Box Alarm 1525 H St NW. #DCsBravest had fire in basement of church. Fire extinguishing. Checking for extension.
— DC Fire and EMS #StayHomeDC Lite (@dcfireems) June 1, 2020
NEW: Fire was in basement of St. Johns, and is out, my @washingtonpost colleague @phscoop reports from DC fire department. Firefighters got there w/ a police escort and quickly put out the blaze. Did NOT appear to cause any significant damage, and it is unclear how it started.
— Michelle Boorstein (@mboorstein) June 1, 2020
Stelter attacked the woman, baselessly accusing her of lying.
Brian Stelter has yet to apologize to spreading disinformation.
Shannon Bream and live video feed on Fox
— Katrina B Haydon (@katrinabhaydon) June 1, 2020
He called you a liar and then deleted it. Amazing.
— Jarvis (@jarvis_best) June 1, 2020
— Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) June 1, 2020
Accuses me of either lying or being too dumb to communicate what I’m seeing on live TV, then deletes it pic.twitter.com/A8tCQ5JOdT
— Katrina B Haydon (@katrinabhaydon) June 1, 2020
Did Brian Stelter lie to protect violent protesters?
Why did Stelter lie?
Is he trying to provide propaganda for violent protesters and domestic terrorists?
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) June 1, 2020
“Burn It Down,” ESPN Writer Encourages Arson of Low Income Housing
ESPN sportswriter Chris Palmer Martin Tweeted, “Burn that shit down. Burn it all down.” The burning building was a low-income housing area in Minneapolis. (Minneapolis vandalism targets include 189-unit affordable housing development.)
When rioters neared Martin’s home, he called them “animals.”
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) May 31, 2020
The media has a history of supporting ANTIFA.
CNN in 2017: Antifa opposes hate and seek peace through violence
— Scooter Downey (@TrueLegendFilms) May 30, 2020
Media bro’s went from ANTIFA is good to ANTIFA doesn’t exist https://t.co/XWormC5xNE
— Essential Cernovich (@Cernovich) May 31, 2020
Hoaxed Movie Uncovers the Media’s Relationship with ANTIFA
Watch the Hoaxed Movie Trailer
Where to Watch Hoaxed Movie
Trump Channels CNN in Joe Scarborough “Cold Case”
“It’s possible, but I don’t know.” With those words former FBI Director James Comey set a new standard for media coverage of public figures. Even when there is no evidence to substantiate your claim, even when you’re relying on a document that had been discredited within the FBI, even when you’re quoting work product that was the result of Russian disinformation, you give no quarter to your enemies.
I am referencing the infamous pee-pee interview James Comey gave to ABC. Comey’s words were amplified by every media outlet. No context was added (such as the FBI’s knowing the Steele dossier was funded by Democrats and contained hoaxes from Russian pranksters).
"I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don’t know whether a current host of a major MSNBC show killed a staffer. It’s possible, but I don’t know."
How is that *any* different from this stuff CNN and media did for 3 years? https://t.co/UtFxbLDx8P
— Essential Cernovich (@Cernovich) May 27, 2020
And now Trump is applying these same principles to Joe Scarborough.
Media figures cry foul. What moral authority do they have?
Scarborough’s own colleague Rachel Maddow accuses people of being Russian assets. When called to answer those allegations in court, she claims that her assertions, believed to be statements of fact by her millions of viewers, are “quintessential statements of rhetorical hyperbole, incapable of being proved true or false.”
As much as I’m glad to see Joe Scarborough be treated with the same “journalistic ethics” as he treats others, I feel for the Lori Klausutis family, who no doubt do not want these painful memories resurfaced. Scarborough deserves this, but the Klausutis family does not.
But as always the media is treating itself as the real victim here.
The same media figures who recklessly smeared innocent teenagers from Covington High School as racists have much to say about a need for others to measure their words.
The same media figures who obsess over every mean Tweet a conservative posts ignores Scarborough’s on-air recording joking about the tragic death of a staffer.
Feel some empathy for the Klausutis. They are caught in a battle they didn’t start.
Scarborough, however, is getting exactly what he and everyone else on cable news deserves.
Whoa! Did Joe Scarborough really say this? https://t.co/jXz58vz3zn
— Essential Cernovich (@Cernovich) May 27, 2020