Patterico's Pontifications


Covington Update: CNN Settles Lawsuit With Nicholas Sandmann

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:41 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Remember Nicholas Sandmann? You know, the kid identified as having a “punchable face”:


CNN reports (on CNN):

CNN has settled a lawsuit with a Kentucky high school student who was at the center of a viral video controversy, a spokesperson for the news network confirmed Tuesday.

No other details were immediately available. An attorney for the student, Nicholas Sandmann, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Sandmann only tweeted, “Yes, we settled with CNN.”

The news was first reported by WXIX-TV. The local outlet said a settlement figure was not made public at a court hearing in Covington, Kentucky.

The settlement will allow CNN to avoid a lengthy and potentially unpredictable trial. Sandmann sought $275 million in damages in the lawsuit he filed against CNN last March.

From the suit against CNN, filed in March 2019:

CNN brought down the full force of its corporate power, influence, and wealth on Nicholas by falsely attacking, vilifying, and bullying him despite the fact that he was a minor child.

More details from Sandmann’s suit against CNN:

The lawsuit filed by Sandmann’s attorneys in the Eastern District of Kentucky claimed that 53 statements included in CNN’s coverage of the incident were defamatory. One such statement, included in a CNN opinion piece, accused the students of acting with “racist disrespect” towards Phillips. Meanwhile, Bakari Sellers, a CNN contributor, publicly mused about assaulting the 16-year-old Sandmann, and HBO host Bill Maher called him a “little prick.”

CNN filed a motion to dismiss the suit in May on the grounds that accusations of racism are not actionable in defamation cases because the allegation can’t be proven true or false. They similarly argued they could not be held liable for uncorroborated claims that Sandmann and his classmates chanted “build the wall” during the encounter.

It is not defamatory to say the Covington students “expressed support for the President or that he echoed a signature slogan of a major political party,” CNN’s motion to dismiss claims.

An investigation conducted by an outside firm contracted by the Diocese of Covington found “no evidence that the students performed a ‘Build the wall’ chant” and that Phillips’s account of the incident “contain some inconsistencies” that could not be explored because investigators were unable to reach him.

Phillips initially claimed that the boys approached him but later admitted that he walked into their group after a video emerged disproving his initial claim. According to his second account, Phillips was attempting to defuse a confrontation between the students and a group of Black Hebrew Israelites, who can be heard on video shouting racial and homophobic slurs at the boys.

Concerns raised about these lawsuits and free speech over at Reason:

As Reason’s Jacob Sullum has observed, there’s a difference between unfair press coverage and libel. The media undoubtedly treated the Covington kids unfairly, but the main culprit here was not CNN or The Washington Post, but [Nathan] Phillips. He was the one who provided bad information to the press. If journalists have to fear massive libel lawsuits for reporting bad information supplied to them by sources they had no reason to distrust, it might make them wary of covering important stories. If successful, Sandmann’s suits could have a chilling effect on necessary and consequential journalism.

In any case, the Covington incident was a debacle for the media, and showed that the tendency of social media to inspire quick reactions is the Achilles’ heel of journalism in the digital age.

The Sandmann family’s lawsuits against NBC Universal and the Washington Post over their coverage of the incident are still pending.

As a reminder, the Washington Post issued an editor’s note on a Friday afternoon admitting to their flawed coverage of the incident. Let’s re-read it:

Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story — including that Native American activist Nathan Phillips was prevented by one student from moving on, that his group had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the encounter, and that the students were trying to instigate a conflict.

The high school student facing Phillips issued a statement contradicting his account; the bishop in Covington, Ky., apologized for the statement condemning the students; and an investigation conducted for the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School found the students’ accounts consistent with videos.

Subsequent Post coverage, including video, reported these developments: ‘Viral standoff between a tribal elder and a high schooler is more complicated than it first seemed’; ‘Kentucky bishop apologizes to Covington Catholic students, says he expects their exoneration’; ‘Investigation finds no evidence of ‘racist or offensive statements’ in Mall incident.’

A Jan. 22 correction to the original story reads: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly said that Native American activist Nathan Phillips fought in the Vietnam War. Phillips said he served in the U.S. Marines but was never deployed to Vietnam.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


It’s Time for Pelosi to Send the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:47 am

Every day Pelosi delays the transmittal of the articles of impeachment to the Senate, she makes the whole affair seem foolish, when in fact the issues at stake are very serious.

The fact that Mitch McConnell is pushing through the same rules that applied during the Clinton impeachment is not a legitimate reason to withhold the articles. Joe Manchin surprised me this morning by saying he didn’t think a fair trial could be held without hearing from Bolton.

Mitt Romney has said he would like to hear from Bolton.

Romney told reporters at the Capitol that he wants to hear from Bolton and find out “what he knows” about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

“I would like to be able to hear from John Bolton. What the process is to make that happen, I don’t have an answer for you,” he added.

But Romney and other moderate Republicans are, for now, siding with McConnell on the notion that the rules for how that will happen should contemplate making the decision once the articles are sent. That is not an irrational view and it does not mean that these same Senators will vote not to subpoena Bolton.

Trump is unlikely to be convicted regardless of what Bolton says. The advantage of impeachment for Democrats is to press the case that 1) what Trump did was wrong and impeachable (it was) and that 2) the Senators who vote to acquit are hacks (they are). If GOP Senators vote not to hear from Bolton, that makes the second point with greater force. If they vote to hear from Bolton, his testimony will likely reinforce the first point. As long as you accept the fact that acquittal is all but inevitable, the issue of the rules — at this point, after Bolton’s announcement — is a no-lose proposition for Democrats.

That is, as long as they send the articles over, with all speed.

The only way to lose is not to play. It’s time for Nancy to play.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Iran Fires Missiles At US Forces In Iraq, President Trump Says “All Is Well!”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:03 am

[guest post by Dana]

Because everything is in a state of flux with regard to Iran, and there is a tremendous amount of speculation and disinformation going around, I’m just going to stick to the basics of what is being reported this morning. With that, President Trump will deliver a statement on Iran later this morning.


Iran launched missile strikes late Tuesday against two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani last week. More than a dozen ballistic missiles targeted the Al Asad and Erbil military bases, the Pentagon said, and U.S. officials were assessing the damage.


Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif defended Iran’s attack, tweeting that Tehran “took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense.” He added that “we do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”

President Trump responded on Twitter:

The Pentagon is reportedly considering the possibility that Iran was careful in their attack and that they “deliberately aimed to miss U.S. troops on the ground.” Additionally:

It appears Iran launched a “carefully calibrated” attack on the Iraqi bases, said retired Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff…He said… that the ballistic missiles Iran used appear to have been fairly accurate weapons, suggesting that if they had wanted to inflict severe casualties, they could have.

Also, the report notes that there was enough of a warning given that American troops had time to take cover before the missile launch.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke about the attacks:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, said on Wednesday that his military had dealt the United States a “slap in the face” when it unleashed missiles at American forces stationed in Iraq.

In a televised address from the holy city of Qom, Ayatollah Khamenei said incremental military actions against the United States alone were “not sufficient.”


“What matters is that the presence of America, which is a source of corruption in this region, should come to an end,” he said to a hall filled with imams and others.

“Death to America!,” the crowd chanted. “Death to Israel!”

Ayatollah Khamenei said that “sitting at the negotiating table” with American envoys would open the door to greater American intervention in the region and that such negotiations therefore must “come to an end.”

“This region,” he said, “does not accept the U.S. presence.”

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani also discussed the attacks with ministers:

[He] detailed his country’s larger regional goal in comments directed at the Americans. “You cut off the hand of Qassim Suleimani from his body and we will cut off your feet from the region.”

There have been no reported casualties as a result of the missile strike.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Ukrainian Airplane Crashes Near Tehran, No Survivors

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:22 am

[guest post by Dana]

From the AP:

A Ukrainian passenger jet carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday, just minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital’s main airport, turning farmland on the outskirts of Tehran into fields of flaming debris and killing all on board.

The crash of Ukraine International Airlines came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers, but Iranian officials said they suspected a mechanical issue brought down the 3½-year-old Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Ukrainian officials initially agreed, but later backed away and declined to offer a cause while the investigation is ongoing.

The plane carried 167 passengers and nine crew members from different nations. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, said that there were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians on board — the Ukrainian nationals included two passengers and the nine crew. There were also 10 Swedish, four Afghan, three German and three British nationals, he said.

According to the BBC, Ukrainian officials deleted their statement blaming engine failure for the crash, saying that any initial reporting about the cause of the accident prior to an investigation were unofficial. Further, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that “criminal proceedings” would be opened into the crash.

More on Iran’s reaction to the crash:

Iranian media blamed technical problems and quoted an aviation official who said no emergency had been declared.

In a sign of the potential difficulties facing crash investigators, the head of Iran’s civil aviation organisation was quoted as saying the Ukrainian plane’s black box would not be handed over, either to Boeing or the Americans.

Ali Abedzadeh said “terrorism” had played no role in the crash, Iran’s conservative Mehr news agency reported. Another official, Qasem Biniaz, blamed an engine fire. “Had the accident happened due to a missile strike, the plane would have exploded in the air,” he told the IRNA news agency.

The plane was reported to have gone through scheduled maintenance on Monday.

“It was one of the best planes we had, with an amazing, reliable crew,” the airline’s president, Yevhen Dykhne, said at a briefing[.]

A note about the recovered black boxes:

Iran’s aviation authority said it would not hand over to Americans the recovered black boxes…”We will not give the black boxes to the manufacturer (Boeing) and the Americans,” Iran Civil Aviation Organisation head Ali Abedzadeh said…”It’s not yet clear which country the black box will go to for the investigation,” he added.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


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