It’s been a bad week for the liars at the Washington Post. One day, they’re being crushed on social media for describing ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as an “austere religious scholar.” The next, they’re being swamped by critics for Max Boot’s column in which the former Republican thought it was necessary to defend al-Baghdadi’s courage against President Trump’s condemnation. And then, worst of all, a ruling came down from a federal judge in Kentucky, reopening a $250 million defamation case against the paper that was originally dismissed in July.
This week, U.S. District Court Judge William Bertelsman ruled that Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington Catholic high school teen who was portrayed as a monster by the media in January, may move forward with his lawsuit against the Post. Having narrowed the terms of the lawsuit to just three sentences in the Post’s coverage of the story, Bertelsman determined that while the paper enjoys the protections of the First Amendment, they may have gone too far in their assertions about Sandmann’s actions.
While Sandmann’s original lawsuit identified 33 libelous statements in the Post’s coverage, Judge Bertelsman has whittled that down to just three. All three relate to the Post reporting that Sandmann blocked Native American activist Nathan Phillips from reaching his destination and forbidding him the ability to retreat.
“The Court will adhere to its previous rulings as they pertain to these statements except Statements 10, 11, and 33, to the extent that these three statements state that plaintiff ‘blocked’ Nathan Phillips and ‘would not allow him to retreat,’” Judge Bertelsman ruled. “Suffice to say that the Court has given this matter careful review and concludes that ‘justice requires’ that discovery be had regarding these statements and their context. The Court will then consider them anew on summary judgment.”
When news of the Lincoln Memorial confrontation hit the wire in January, nearly every mainstream news organization got the story wrong. Their failures were numerous, but their willingness to take Phillips’ word for what went down was undoubtedly the worst of it. Phillips claimed that he was minding his own business when Sandmann and the Covington Catholic teens surrounded him and intimidated him. It was easy enough to believe this story, perhaps, if you were already biased against the teen for his red MAGA hat and the small smirk on his face.
The only problem, as revealed with subsequent video footage, is that it just wasn’t true. In the footage, Phillips is seen intentionally instigating the confrontation, going out of his way to bang his drum right up to Sandmann’s face before engaging in a staredown with the 16-year-old. Phillips had every opportunity to turn back or, if he so chose, to simply go around Sandmann and his friends. That’s not what he wanted. He wanted some drama.
“The Sandmann family and our legal team are grateful that Judge Bertelsman has allowed the case to proceed,” the teen’s lawyer said in a statement. “The Court’s ruling preserves the heart of the Nicholas Sandmann’s claims. We can consider this a huge victory and look forward to initiating discovery against the Washington Post.”
Well, fake news has a price. It could be that the Washington Post is going to find out just how steep it can be.