Lawyer for Covington Student Suing Washington Post Claims Suit Is Not Political. He’s Wrong.

There is no way to separate politics from the encounter between Nicholas Sandmann and a Native American activist. That is not the fault of The Washington Post.

President Trump opened his daily ‘Executive Time’ on Wednesday by offering public encouragement to a lawsuit filed against The Washington Post, owned by his mortal enemy Jeff Bezos.

The suit was filed by the parents of Nicholas Sandmann, the student from all-boys high school Covington Catholic in Kentucky who was seen on video in what appeared to be a confrontation with a Native American activist at the Lincoln Memorial. The video went viral and much accusing, yelling, and threatening of both Sandmann and the activist ensued.

Sandmann’s lawyer was quick to thank the president for his support while also swearing that the lawsuit is not political.

I’ll leave discussing the merits of the lawsuit to the lawyers. But to claim there is no political motivation here is deeply hilarious and belied by the initial filing itself, a grab bag of right-wing grievance talking points:

  • “In a span of three (3) days in January of this year commencing on January 19, the Post engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism by competing with CNN and NBC, among others, to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies which attacked, vilified, and threatened Nicholas Sandmann (‘Nicholas’), an innocent secondary school child.”
  • “The Post ignored basic journalist standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump (“the President”) by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President.”
  • “The Post’s campaign to target Nicholas in furtherance of its political agenda was carried out by using its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles which effectively provided a worldwide megaphone to Phillips and other anti-Trump individuals and entities to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the President.”
  • “The Banyamyan and Sandmann Videos demonstrate that this incident was intentionally instigated by Phillips and that Nicholas was targeted by a professional activist whose false accusations neatly fit the mainstream and social media’s anti-Trump agenda.”

According to the suit, Sandmann wasn’t even making a political statement by wearing a red Make America Great Again hat. He simply bought it as a souvenir, as any red-blooded American teenager would do to show support for a president:

  • “In previous years, some students had purchased ‘Hope’ hats in support of President Obama.”

To say this lawsuit is not politically motivated is disingenuous in the extreme. Wearing a red Make America Great Again hat in public is a political statement, even by a 16-year-old boy. It is not a neutral statement of support for the office of the president instead of the man who occupies it. One cannot credibly claim otherwise, not after years of Trump holding political rallies in front of seas of those hats atop his supporters’ heads. There were plenty of conservatives during the Obama years who would have likely viewed a Shepard Fairey “Hope” hat the same way.

One also cannot credibly claim that Donald Trump is simply supporting this lawsuit because he is concerned about the children, as Sandmann’s lawyer tried to do on Wednesday morning, and which this legal filing (hilariously) tries to do as well:

  • “In this country, our society is dedicated to the protection of children regardless of the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, or the cap they wear.”

Trump has been on a rampage against the Post and other mainstream news organizations since he started running for president. Viewing the media an enemy out to destroy him is one of the defining characteristics of his presidency. To him, Nicholas Sandmann is an instrument by which one of his enemies could be punished, that’s all.

The same goes for conservative media, which loves using this story as a cudgel against what it views as mainstream media bias. It is a bad-faith attack on the press, one that would not be extended to a liberal teenager wearing a “Hope” hat with Obama’s image on it.

Nicholas Sandmann is being used, all right. But not by who he and his family think.

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Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.

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