They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
But if you rush to judgment about a picture, it could cost you thousands of dollars.
The attorneys representing Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann have contacted over 50 media outlets and celebrities who lambasted Sandmann in the immediate aftermath of a picture that went viral of the teenager seemingly staring down a Native American elder at a rally in Washington a few weeks ago. Sandmann’s legal team has advised those who published derogatory statements or articles to preserve any evidence in the event legal action is taken.
“They made false statements against my client that have damaged his reputation. And imagine being the person subject to all of this hatred at age 16 and imagine when you apply to a college grad school,” said one of Sandmann’s lawyers, Todd McMurty, while on Fox News Radio, adding, “Imagine when you go to a party. Imagine when you seek a new job or want to move to a new city we’re going to know who you are. I don’t think people are going to forget this for years to come. And what they did to him is completely inexcusable. It’s a travesty and they all need to be punished and they need to pay a high price for what they did.”
Another one of Sandmann’s lawyers is L. Lin Wood, who has represented Richard Jewell, John and Patsy Ramsay, as well as Herman Cain in high-profile defamation and libel lawsuits.
But not everyone is convinced Sandmann has a case.
Jon Fleischaker, who is an attorney for he Louisville Courier-Journal, told the Cincinnati Enquirier that: it is “set law under the Constitution” that a person or publication “cannot be held … responsible for damages for statements of opinion. Because opinion is something that is not provable as a matter of fact.”
The major media outlets were just offering their “opinion” and not reporting news, according to Fleischaker? Now… I’m not an attorney… but I’m pretty sure Wood would offer a such a strong comeback in response to Fleischaker’s “opinion” take that even B-Rabbit would be impressed.
While I certainly recall people saying things like “That kid deserves to be punched in the face” on social media – I do not recall anyone qualifying it by saying “That kid deserves to be punched in the face, in my opinion.”
And the celebrities? Woi. One of them was demanding names and addresses of the students to be published, presumably so that the online mob would turn into a real life mob and confront the Covington kids in person.
Look, Media. You messed this one up.
You saw the MAGA hat and assumed the worst.
And I’ll confess that when I first saw the now-infamous image I wanted to wipe that smirk off Sandmann’s face myself – but it was because I believed the media narrative about the situation.
And that’s the point. We took your word for it.
The news outlets behave more like Twitter trolls than professional journalists sometimes. Their priority is to be first, not to be right.
And as a result, there’s a 16 year-old in Covington, Kentucky for whom this incident will follow him around for the rest of his life.
McMurty, Wood and the rest of Team Sandmann would be doing society a huge favor getting the reckless media outlets, celebrities and others to retract what they published, cut Sandmann a check, and publicly apologize to Sandmann and his family. In my opinion.
Here is the list of media oulets and celebs that were contacted by Sandmann’s legal team.
The Washington Post
The New York Times
Cable News Network, Inc. (CNN)
National Public Radio
Atlantic Media Inc.
Capitol Hill Publishing Corp.
Diocese of Covington
Diocese of Lexington
Archdiocese of Louisville
Diocese of Baltimore
Elliot C. McLaughlin
Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
Michael E. Miller
Emily S. Rueb
Eun Kyung Kim
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Louisville Courier-Journal was not among the 50 or so entities that Team Sandmann has reportedly contacted. Nor was the Cincinnati Enquirer, however the city of Covington, Kentucky is located just south of Cincinnati, right across the Ohio River, making this a local story of sorts for the Enquirer.