- The Washington Times - Friday, May 10, 2019

If you watched “Law & Order: SVU” this week, you may have noticed that the teenage boy in the red cap locked in a faceoff in the middle of a rowdy crowd bears a strong resemblance to Nicholas Sandmann.

A week after being sued by the Covington Catholic teen, NBCUniversal aired an episode Thursday of the long-running hit series with a scene that looked a lot like the 16-year-old Sandmann’s viral Jan. 18 encounter with an older Native American man at the Lincoln Memorial.

Certainly the conservative Media Research Center thought so, posting an analysis Friday accusing the show of slandering Sandmann by perpetrating the debunked media narrative of a racist teen taunting a person of color — in this case, Nathan Phillips being replaced by a Muslim councilwoman.

“It’s probably not the smartest idea to mock a group of people as bigots as they are currently suing you for $275 million dollars in a defamation lawsuit,” said a film critic on the “conservatarian” Society Reviews website.

While the scene itself appeared to be lifted from the headlines, other key details about the incident had been changed.

The Sandmann-like character was one of a group of angry Jewish students who gets in the face of a Muslim councilwoman and calls her an anti-Semite. Two of the teens are accused afterward of raping the councilwoman, although as “SVU” fans know, the initial suspects are rarely the actual villains.

In this case, it turns out the councilwoman, named Nahla Nasar, was assaulted by her ex-husband, whose attack was motivated by her being a lesbian in defiance of Shariah law.

MRC’s Lindsay Kornick said that the hijab-wearing Nasar character was apparently modeled on Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Democrat, who has been accused of anti-Semitism. At one point, the character uses Ms. Omar’s line, “it’s all about the Benjamins.”

Even though the teens were innocent of the crime, and that the Nasar character had provoked the clash by approaching the group, Ms. Kornick said the scene of the red-capped boy named Ari yelling at the councilwoman was based on a falsehood about the Covington encounter.

“Much like with the Covington Catholic kids, the situation was a hoax, but in the show the full video doesn’t exculpate Ari’s aggressive and hostile interaction,” said the MRC analysis. “Does Law & Order: SVU know that Nick Sandmann, who Ari is clearly based on, didn’t do anything but stand quietly in place?”

The MRC also accused the show of letting off the Muslim councilwoman too easily for her false accusation.

“By the end of the episode, Nasar manages to have her rapist convicted, her parents’ acceptance of her alternative lifestyle, and her job intact,” said the MRC review. “And no, the fact that she lied about the boys raping her, made anti-Semitic remarks, and provoked a racial confrontation doesn’t seem to affect any of this. All that mattered was that the public remembered that she was a victim.”

The Washington Times has reached out to NBCUniversal for comment.

Attorneys for the Sandmann family filed a $275 million defamation lawsuit May 1 against NBCUniversal. They have also sued The Washington Post for $250 million and CNN for $275 million alleging that the media outlets tarred the teen in order to perpetrate an anti-Trump narrative.

Attorney L. Lin Wood said his legal team would “carefully analyze this episode,” titled “Assumptions,” to see if it should be included in the complaint.

“We are aware of the recent NBC episode of ‘Law & Order: SVU’ that depicted a teen in a red hat accused of a hate crime and rape,” Mr. Wood said in a statement. “We plan to carefully analyze this episode to determine whether it should be added to the already long list of earlier publications by NBC which falsely accused Nicholas of being involved in a hate crime. If so, the defamation lawsuit against NBC will be amended accordingly.”

In his encounter with Mr. Phillips, Nicholas Sandmann wore a red Make America Great Again cap. The character in the show also wore a red ballcap, but it was flipped backward.

The “SVU” stands for “Special Victims Unit” on the show, which has run for 20 seasons.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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