Nick Sandmann’s libel suit against five media outlets were dismissed

On Wednesday, former Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann’s five media libel cases were dismissed by U.S. District Eastern Kentucky Court Judge William Bertelsman.

In a popular video that went viral in January 2019, Sandmann was seen standing next to Native American Nathan Phillips while Phillips played a drum and performed a traditional song. Sandmann, who was 16 at the time, was dressed in a red “Make America Great Again” cap, according to a report by Fox News.

Several mainstream media sites depicted the footage as having racial overtones, with Sandmann provoking Phillips by smirking while standing in front of him. Additional video, nevertheless, later revealed that a group of Black Hebrew Israelites had incited their altercation by hurling racial epithets at him and his classmates. Later, as hostilities between the students and the Black Hebrew Israelites grew, Phillips was observed moving toward Sandmann.

Sandmann sued multiple media organizations at the time for libel, but Bertelsman dismissed claims against The New York Times, CBS, ABC, Gannett Co., Inc., and Rolling Stone on the grounds that media claims that Sandmann “blocked” Phillips at the time were protected viewpoints.

“The media defendants were covering a matter of great public interest, and they reported Phillips’s first-person view of what he experienced. This would put the reader on notice that Phillips was simply giving his perspective on the incident. Therefore, in the factual context of this case, Phillips’ ‘blocking’ statements are protected opinions. This holding moots all other motions before the Court,” Bertelsman wrote.

Todd McMurty, the lawyer for Sandmann, has stated that he will appeal the ruling because he was “disappointed” by it. Sandmann himself was quoted as saying, “We’re fully prepared to argue these cases in the 6th Circuit.” Sandmann posted a Twitter thread where he called the ruling a “disappointment.”