Nicholas Sandmann took a break from his college studies Tuesday to tell CNN host Brian Stelter why Americans, and conservatives in particular, often don’t believe what they see in the media.
Mr. Stelter had slammed what he described as the “GOP’s anti-media streak” after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, accused major press organizations of routinely lying.
“GOP’s anti-media streak summarized: Governor of one of the biggest states in the USA says citizens should ‘assume’ news outlets are lying to them,” Mr. Stelter said in a Tuesday tweet.
Enter Mr. Sandmann.
The former student at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky responded with a one-word tweet: “Howdy.”
Nobody familiar with his story could mistake his meaning.
Mr. Sandmann became a symbol of how narrative-driven journalism can go badly awry when he was depicted as the aggressor in an encounter with an older American Indian activist in January 2019 at the Lincoln Memorial.
The teen, who wore a red “Make America Great Again” ballcap, and his classmates were accused of harassing the man based on reports that relied on heavily-edited video clips, but longer footage released later showed they did nothing of the kind.
Attorneys for Mr. Sandmann and his family settled defamation lawsuits last year with CNN and The Washington Post on undisclosed terms.
Mr. Sandmann’s response to the CNN host drew thousands of retweets and hundreds of attaboys, as well as a write-up on the conservative website Twitchy.
“After Ron DeSantis hurts Brian Stelter’s feelings, Nick Sandmann stops by to finish the job,” said the Twitchy headline.
Mr. Stelter, host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” took issue with Mr. DeSantis after he declared at a press conference, “We all know corporate media lies.”
“They do not tell the truth. Assume what they tell you is false and then figure out why they’re telling you a false narrative,” Mr. DeSantis said.
His remarks came in response to a question about his proposal to give $5,000 bonuses to police officers who relocate from other states.
Several news outlets said he was offering bonuses to “unvaccinated police,” which he disputed.
“It’s for officers, period. This has nothing to do with their vaccination status. So that’s just wrong,” Mr. DeSantis said.
Mr. Stelter responded that Mr. DeSantis himself is a “regular on ‘corporate media’ shows like Maria Bartiromo’s,” referring to programs on Fox Business Network and Fox News Channel.
Mr. Sandmann has largely avoided the limelight since the 2019 incident, although he did speak at the 2020 Republican National Convention.