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Teen in video face-off with Native American sues Washington Post for $250 million

POLITICO logo POLITICO 2/20/2019 By Quint Forgey
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Video by Today

The Kentucky teenager at the center of a confrontation last month with a Native American man at the Lincoln Memorial has sued The Washington Post, alleging that the newspaper made “false and defamatory accusations” against him in its coverage of the episode.

Nicholas Sandmann, 16, a student at Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Ky., is seeking $250 million in damages from The Post — the same amount Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos paid for ownership of the paper in 2013, according to a copy of the suit Sandmann’s attorneys posted on their website.

Among various complaints, the suit alleges that The Post “engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism” to target Sandmann “because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against” President Donald Trump.

the inside of a building: The suit alleges that the Washington Post’s coverage of the incident was used “in furtherance of its political agenda.” © Alex Wong/Getty Images The suit alleges that the Washington Post’s coverage of the incident was used “in furtherance of its political agenda.” In video accounts of the Jan. 18 encounter, a grinning Sandmann is depicted wearing a red Make America Great Again baseball cap as he stares down Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran who sings and beats a drum as Covington students laugh and jeer around him.

“The Post’s campaign to target Nicholas in furtherance of its political agenda,” the suit alleges, “was carried out by using its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles which effectively provided a worldwide megaphone to Phillips and other anti-Trump individuals and entities to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the President.”

Sandmann’s attorneys, Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Covington, and suggested in a statement that additional litigation would be forthcoming.

“Lin and Todd will continue to bring wrongdoers before the court to seek damages in compensation for the harm so many have done to the Sandmann family,” they said. “This is only the beginning.”

The Post did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A team of private investigators retained by the Covington Diocese concluded last week that the students did not instigate the confrontation and found no evidence that they made “racist or offensive statements” to Phillips.

Widespread backlash against the Covington students abated after reports surfaced of a third group, known as the Black Hebrew Israelites, antagonizing both Native Americans demonstrating as part of the Indigenous Peoples March as well as the Covington students and other participants in the anti-abortion March for Life protest.

Trump throughout his presidency has attacked The Post for its White House coverage, and singled out Bezos, the world’s richest man, for ridicule on Twitter in January by calling him “Jeff Bozo.”

Tensions between the two billionaires ratcheted up earlier this month after Bezos accused accused the National Enquirer of “extortion and blackmail.” The tabloid’s owner, American Media, threatened that it would publish compromising photos of Bezos and his mistress if he did not publicly affirm that the Enquirer’s coverage was not “politically motivated or influenced by political forces,” according to an email from an AMI lawyer that Bezos published in a blog post.

AMI‘s CEO, David Pecker, is a longtime friend of the president‘s who helped facilitate “catch and kill” deals to buy the rights to damaging stories about Trump and then make sure they were not published.

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