An attorney representing Covington Catholic alum Nick Sandmann vowed Monday to take additional legal action against CNN and the Washington Post over alleged breaches of confidentiality.
“There is a time to speak and a time to refrain from speaking,” attorney Lin Wood told the Washington Examiner. “I will not be speaking on this subject today beyond my tweets. But I will be taking actions.”
The Washington Post confirmed last week that it agreed to settle a $250 million defamation lawsuit stemming from the newspaper’s flawed coverage in 2019 of a confrontation between Sandmann and Nathan Phillips, an elderly Native American protester. Like most major news outlets, the Washington Post misreported that Sandmann and his Covington Catholic High School classmates had “swarmed” Phillips, abusing him with racist taunts and jeers. CNN, which settled its own multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit with Sandmann in January, similarly mischaracterized the 2019 incident, giving the distinct impression that Sandmann had indeed harassed Phillips with racist insults.
Video footage of the confrontation shows that Sandmann and his cohort did not abuse or even approach Phillips. Rather, footage of the incident shows that it was Phillips who harassed the teens.
It is standard in legal settlements for both parties to agree to keep the details of the final arrangement confidential, meaning neither CNN nor the Washington Post nor Sandmann’s attorneys are to discuss the dollar amount awarded or whether anyone admitted or denied guilt. The entire point of a settlement is that one party quietly pays another so that they can both walk away and never speak of the matter again, thus avoiding a costly, drawn-out, and possibly devastating trial.
Someone should tell that to certain CNN and Washington Post staffers.
It makes sense that the Washington Post settled with Sandmann, one of its reporters, Dan Zak, said this weekend in a since-deleted tweet.
“You settle for a small amount – without admitting fault (because there was none) – in order to avoid a more expensive trial that you would nonetheless win,” he added. “It is, you might say, the American way.”
A spokesperson for the Washington Post said Monday that Zak’s tweet was deleted because he has no idea what he is talking about.
“Dan’s tweet was taken down because it had no basis in fact,” she told the Washington Examiner. "Dan has no knowledge about the agreement.”
Elsewhere, CNN’s Brian Stelter shared a tweet Monday by attorney Mark Zaid, which reads, “Those with zero legal experience (as far as I can tell) should not be conjecturing on lawsuits they know nothing about. What kind of journalism is that? I've litigated defamation cases. Sandman was undoubtedly paid nuisance value settlement & nothing more.”
CNN analyst Asha Rangappa also theorized about the dollar amount her employer paid Sandmann.
“I’d guess $25K to go away,” she speculated on social media.
On Monday, Wood publicly addressed Stelter’s retweet as well as Zak’s and Rangappa’s remarks, alleging all three had violated their respective newsrooms’ confidentiality agreements with his client.
“This retweet by [Stelter] may have cost him his job at [CNN],” Wood said. “It is called breach of confidentiality agreement. Brian Stelter is a liar. I know how to deal with liars.”
He added in reference to Rangappa’s remarks, “Heads are going to roll at CNN or [Nick Sandmann] is going to filing another lawsuit & reveal truth.”
Wood had the same to say regarding Zak’s tweet.
Spokespersons for CNN did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.