Lin Wood, attorney for Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann, implied that a CNN correspondent’s retweet may have violated a confidentiality agreement reported Fox News. Wood also noted the possibility of a Washington Post reporter may have committed the same offense.
In January 2020, CNN settled a defamation lawsuit brought by Sandmann in response to the network’s reporting of an incident in January 2019 between the teen and a Native American activist on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial during a March for Life event. The lawsuit against CNN was for $275 million dollars. The Washington Post settled a similar lawsuit last week according to TheWrap.com. The Washington Post was sued for $250 million. As is standard in settlements of this sort, the defendants agreed not to discuss details of the settlement publicly.
Brian Stetler, host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” retweeted an opinion by Mark Zaid, an attorney, about the amount of money given to Sandmann after CNN settled the defamation suit. Zaid tweeted, in response to a since-deleted tweet, “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. [Sandmann] was undoubtedly paid nuisance value settlement & nothing more.” Zaid had no involvement with either the CNN or Washington Post suits. No public announcements regarding the amounts involved followed the settlements of either case.
Stetler’s retweet of Zaid’s tweet caught the attention of Wood, who tweeted, “”This retweet by @brianstelter may have cost him his job at @CNN. It is called breach of confidentiality agreement. Brian Stelter is a liar. I know how to deal with liars.” He included Stetler’s retweet in his message.
Nicholas Sandmann weighed in on Stetler’s actions with a tweet of his own. “Brian Stelter just can’t learn some basic lessons over at CNN,” the teen tweeted. “I can’t decide if it’s worse to be Brian Stelter or believe Brian Stelter. He was never in any court hearing or meeting I was. So why does he act like he knows anything?”
Wood accused Washington Post reporter Dan Zak of breach of a confidentiality agreement, too, after Zak tweeted on Friday that the Post made a settlement, “for a small amount… in order to avoid a more expensive trial… it’s the American way.” Zak stood by the tweet despite deleting it over the weekend, claiming that he often deletes tweets. A Washington Post spokesperson contradicted Zak’s account saying, “Dan’s tweet was taken down because it had no basis in fact. Dan has no knowledge about the agreement.”
Sandmann still has defamation lawsuits pending against numerous other media entities including ABC, CBS, The Huffington Post, and NPR. The narrative pushed by many mainstream media sources was that Sandmann was the aggressor in the confrontation with Nathan Phillips, the Native American activist. Later footage revealed a group of Black Hebrew Israelites were responsible for causing the trouble when they targeted the Covington Catholic students with racial slurs.