This Kid’s First Car Is Gonna Be Sweeeeeet
Given the breakneck speed of the Trump news cycle, it seems like forever ago that we were all discussing a Catholic school boy’s weaponized smirk, as it brought out the worst in already very bad people from coast to coast.
Fake News reporters on Twitter and elsewhere couldn’t help themselves, as they spread a heavily edited video around the web to give the impression that the boy, Nick Sandmann, and the Covington High classmates with whom he traveled to Washington, DC were harassing “a Native elder and Vietnam veteran.”
Those of us who are accustomed to combatting Fake News at every turn suspected that we weren’t getting the whole story, and sure enough, someone found the original, unedited footage. As you no doubt know by now, it demonstrated the kids to be more victims than anything, as they were harassed with racist language and ultimately a fake war veteran’s drumming in their faces.
Now, things are getting litigious.
Sandmann’s family is suing The Failing Washington Post, saying it targeted and defamed him for political purposes when it selectively reported on the encounter in order to throw gas on the flames of children set afire by the Twitter social justice mob.
Ted and Julie Sandmann filed the suit on their son’s behalf, seeking a whopping $250 million in damages — the same amount Amazon founder Jeff Bezos paid to purchase the Post as his personal propaganda rag in 2013. Of that amount, the lawsuit is seeking $50 million in compensation for the alleged damage done, while the remaining $200 million in punitive damages would be aimed at punishing the newspaper company.
In their complaint, the Sandmanns say they are asking a federal district court in Kentucky to help them “teach the Post a lesson it will never forget.”
The lawsuit accuses the Post of publishing seven stories with what it calls a “false and defamatory gist” (legalese for “Fake News”) about the encounter. It also alleges that the Post “contributed to the rampant cyber-assault and cyber-bullying” that was aimed at Sandmann after the story drew national attention.
The 38-page court filing seeks a jury trial to consider the case, including whether the newspaper was motivated by a desire to pursue a “biased agenda” against PDT and to impugn people who support him. Spoiler alert: of course they were and of course they did. The move to seek a jury trial is legally savvy, as there’s a big difference between a Kentucky jury and one in, say, northern Virginia.
The complaint notes WaPo’s role in popularizing the term “McCarthyism” during the 1950s alleges that it “engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism by competing with CNN and NBC, among others, to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies.”
Again, all true.
Sandmann has received a steady stream of death threats and insults in the initial backlash over #SmirkGate. The lawsuit accuses the Post of targeting Sandmann “because he was the white, Catholic student” wearing a MAGA cap on his school’s field trip. And the fact that he was there to attend the anti-abortion March for Life rally didn’t help matters in the eyes of his possessed stalkers.
Now for the bad news.
The lawsuit is likely to be an uphill battle. The Fake News is given a wide berth by First Amendment precedent. The teen became what’s known as a “limited purpose public figure” during the confrontation, which is BS but unfortunately a legal reality.
That means Sandmann’s team will have to prove that those tweeting and writing knowingly posted what they knew to be false and reckless, which is the standard for a defamation suit. And since legal guidelines state that a minor doesn’t have a reputation to defame, even if the lawyers were able to find WaPo was reckless, there wouldn’t be a way to prove the damage to the teen’s reputation.
The good news is the Fake News Media has an approval rating nearing single digits, so there is always the chance of finding a sympathetic jury. But given the political polarization of today’s America, one would be hard-pressed to find a group of 12 people in which at least one person doesn’t have Trump Derangement Syndrome.
But the chance is there, and man do I hope they find a way to bring this thing home.
If the Covington kids end up being the ones to bring WaPo to its knees, I doubt I’ll frown for the next decade. Because by God, they deserve it.