Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann – sometimes referred to as the ‘MAGA Hat Kid’ – is currently suing NBCUniversal for $275 million over coverage he received earlier this year.
In January 2019, footage and photographs of Sandmann – then 16 – went viral, which showed him standing in front of Native American activist Nathan Phillips at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington.
Sandmann, from Kentucky, could be seen wearing a ‘MAGA’ hat in the viral video, and was perceived by some critics to be ‘smirking’ at Phillips. He had reportedly bought the cap earlier that day as a souvenir.
Other Covington Catholic High School classmates could also be seen wearing campaign merchandise in support of President Donald Trump. The students had reportedly been on a school trip to the capital to attend the anti-abortion protest March for Life.
Today, @LLinWood and I filed a $275,000,000 lawsuit against NBCUniversal on behalf of Nicholas Sandmann. The facts of the suit show the anti-Trump narrative NBC pushed so hard. Here is a link if you wish to read it: https://t.co/X6v4HBqxXk pic.twitter.com/jcRTnWh5hl
— Todd V. McMurtry (@ToddMcMurtry) May 1, 2019
The lawsuit filed by Sandmann’s lawyers have described Sandmann as being, ‘an easy target for NBCUniversal to advance its anti-Trump agenda because he was a 16-year-old white, Catholic student who had attended the Right to Life March that day and was wearing a MAGA cap at the time of the incident which he had purchased earlier in the day as a souvenir’.
The lawsuit, which has been filed by Sandmann’s attorneys Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry, reads:
NBCUniversal attacked Nicholas by relying heavily on biased and unreliable sources without conducting any reasonable investigation of the circumstances surrounding the January 18 incident.
The lawsuit continues:
Given the breadth of NBCUniversal’s media reach, its false and defamatory accusations against Nicholas were published repeatedly on various outlets and in the process, NBCUniversal’s coverage significantly contributed to a media frenzy that subjected Nicholas to public scorn, ridicule, and serious threats of physical harm.
The footage of Sandmann and Philips led to Sandmann being heavily criticized on social media, with many perceiving he’d taunted and disrespected the elderly Philips.
Speaking during an interview on the Today programme shortly after the incident, Sandmann – who has stated he hadn’t been smirking at Phillips – discussed the public reaction to the viral video:
It’s been terrible. People have threatened our [Sandmann and his family’s] lives.
You can watch part of Sandmann’s Today interview for yourself below:
This is the third lawsuit pursued by Sandmann’s legal team. They are also suing The Washington Post for $250 million (£192 million) and CNN for $275 million (£211 million).
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.