Skip to main content

CNN agreed in a court of law on Tuesday to settle a lawsuit with Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School student involved in a standoff in Washington, D.C., last year between himself and Native American elder Nathan Phillips.

In March of 2019, Sandmann’s lawyers filed an $800 million dollar defamation lawsuit against several news outlets to include the Washington Post, CNN, and NBC.

The agreement was reached at a federal courthouse in Covington, Kentucky. The amount of the settlement has not been made public.

Judgments on social media were quick to surface in both support and criticisms toward Sandmann on his Twitter account in which he posted the message “Yes, We settled with CNN.”

“I hope you got a great settlement and with it, the ability to move on with your life and live in peace after what was done to you. So many of us wish you all the best in life,” stated one tweet, while another wrote, “How fantastic. It must have been horrifying for you and your family. Imagine withstanding such negativity for simply standing in front of your raging schoolmates with just a smirk to defend yourself from prayers from a vet. Actually, I'm not serious. Enjoy your life though.”

Todd McMurtry, Sandmann’s lawyer posted on Twitter, “I want to thank everyone for the many good wishes received today. Now, @LLinWood and I turn our attention to @NBCNews, @washingtonpost and additional defendants to be named soon. #NickSandmann.”

McMurtry told Fox News that lawsuits against “as many as 13 other defendants will be filed in 30 to 40 days.” The outlets cited to Fox News were ABC, CBS, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, NPR, Slate, The Hill, Gannett's Cincinnati Inquirer and other small outfits.

Danny Paul Nelson, program director of the Lakota Law People’s project in coordination with the Indigenous People's Movement organization, sent a statement to Indian Country Today regarding the settlement.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

“As no details concerning the settlement have been released, it’s hard to assess the implications of CNN’s decision not to fight in court. But the salient fact is the Kentucky federal judge’s decision last summer to dismiss Sandman’s suit against the Washington Post, citing First Amendment concerns (when that paper faced the toughest set of facts regarding their coverage of Sandman). The smirk seen around the world remains a poignant symbol of the well-documented bigotry of Trump and his followers. The United States is losing moral capital the world over right now at an alarming rate. That trend needs to be reversed immediately if we hope to remain a force for good in the world, and that begins with robust media coverage of public acts of racism, no matter how subtle.”

Though officials for CNN, NBC and Sandmann have not offered further comments to the public, The Washington Post did offer a comment back in March 2019.

“While we do not accept the characterizations and contentions regarding our reporting of the incident at the Lincoln Memorial, we have taken steps to address the concerns expressed to us. The full story did not emerge all at once and throughout our coverage, we sought to produce accurate reports. Even the comments of the school and church officials changed, and The Post provided ongoing coverage of the conflicting versions of this event and its aftermath, giving prominent attention to the student’s account and the investigative findings supporting it. We thus have provided a fair and accurate historical record of how this incident unfolded.”

President Donald Trump has been supportive of Nick Sandmann in several tweets in the past year.

Trump tweeted on October 30, 2019, “A Federal Judge is allowing the Nick Sandman libel suit to move forward against the thoroughly disgusting Washington Post (which is no longer available at the White House!). He could now have a good chance of winning. Go Nick!”

ICT Phone Logo

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling and Instagram - @VinceSchilling

Email -