An attorney for Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann said he plans to sue CNN for at least $250 million for what he described as its “vicious” coverage of the teen at the center of an incident at the Lincoln Memorial in January.
“CNN will be sued next week, and the dollar figure in the CNN case may be higher than it was in The Washington Post,” attorney L. Lin Wood told Fox News host Mark Levin in an advance clip of an interview airing Sunday.
The Washington Post was hit last month with a $250 million lawsuit — the amount Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos paid for the newspaper — for compensatory and punitive damages from its reporting on the Jan. 18 encounter between Nicholas and Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips.
The 16-year-old, who wore a red “Make America Great Again” cap, was widely depicted in initial media coverage as harassing Mr. Phillips as they stood face-to-face on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, but more extensive video showed that the American Indian activist and several adults approached the group of teens.
“CNN was probably more vicious in its direct attacks on Nicholas than The Washington Post, and CNN goes into millions of individuals’ homes,” said Mr. Wood.
Said Mr. Levin: “CNN did a hell of a number on your client.”
Video showed that a handful of Black Hebrew Israelites protesters were shouting racial and homophobic slurs at the teens, who were waiting for their bus back to Park Hills, Kentucky, after attending the March for Life.
CNN did not respond immediately Sunday to a request for comment. Mr. Wood said he expects the lawsuit to be filed Monday or Tuesday.
The Washington Post has said it plans to “mount a vigorous defense” against the defamation lawsuit, which seeks $200 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.
“I would think the punitive-damage award against CNN that we’ll seek will be at least the same, $200 million, as it was against The Washington Post,” said Mr. Wood. “But the compensatory damage to Nicholas’s reputation, that number I expect will be higher.”
Mr. Phillips, who had participated in the Indigenous Peoples March, has said the teens were harassing the Black Hebrew Israelites and he sought to reduce tensions by intervening.