Attorneys for Nicholas Sandmann filed a $275 million lawsuit Wednesday against NBCUniversal over its coverage of the Kentucky teen, accusing the network of creating a “false narrative” driven by its “anti-Trump agenda.”
The lawsuit, the third filed by the Sandmann attorneys against major media outlets, alleged that NBC targeted the Covington Catholic High School student in its reporting on his Jan. 18 encounter with Native American activist Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial.
“NBCUniversal created a false narrative by portraying the ‘confrontation’ as a ‘hate crime’ committed by Nicholas,” said the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
The lawsuit alleged that the teen was “an easy target for NBCUniversal to advance its anti-Trump agenda because he was a 16-year-old white, Catholic student who had attended the Right to Life March that day and was wearing a MAGA cap at the time of the incident which he had purchased earlier in the day as a souvenir.”
Sandmann attorneys L. Lin Wood of Atlanta and Todd V. McMurtry of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, have also sued the Washington Post for $250 million and CNN for $275 million over their coverage of the episode, and have indicated there may be more complaints.
The Post filed last month a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the newspaper’s coverage of Nicholas was “not only accurate; it was ultimately favorable to him.”
NBCUniversal did not respond immediately Wednesday to a request for comment.
The latest lawsuit alleged that NBCUniversal, through its news outlets NBC and MSNBC, “unleashed its vast corporate wealth, influence, and power against Nicholas to falsely attack him despite the fact that at the time, he was a 16-year-old high school student.”
A group of Covington Catholic teens was waiting for buses back to Kentucky when they were approached by Mr. Phillips, who stood in front of the teen singing and beating a drum after the Indigenous Peoples March, held the same day as the March for Life.
Online video snippets that went viral prompted accusations that Nicholas was “smirking” and “taunting” the Omaha Nation elder, who told news outlets that he was afraid of the boys. Lengthier footage taken at the scene showed that he initiated the contact by entering their cheer circle.
Prior to the encounter, a handful of Black Hebrew Israelites had called the teens racist and homophobic slurs.
Headlines run online by NBCUniversal outlets about the incident included, “Nathan Phillips, Native American man harassed by high schoolers, tells his story,” and “Video of teens taunting man at Indigenous Peoples March sparks outrage,” the lawsuit said.
A number of individuals and organizations, including the March for Life and the Covington Diocese, have issued apologies after initially condemning the teens.