Justice is a dish best served cold, but it’s a lot nicer with a side of greens — especially the ones with presidents printed on them.
It appears that Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann got both Friday as he settled his lawsuit against The Washington Post. We don’t know for how much, but you can bet he got a lot of greens because the Post was in the wrong.
Sandmann was catapulted involuntarily from high school obscurity into an Internet mobbing in January 2019 during the annual March for Life in Washington.
During a bizarre series of events, several members of a group called the Black Hebrew Israelites heckled Sandmann and his fellow students. Then Sandmann was confronted by Native American activist Nathan Phillips, who played a drum inches from Sandmann’s face.
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Sandmann didn’t move. He didn’t say anything controversial or mean. He stood there with class and smiled. And for that horrific “face crime” he was skewered across media and social media. The Post was particularly heinous to the teen because he was white, male and wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap.
The press coverage was based initially by a short video that distorted the event. That didn’t stop some news organizations from continuing to slam Sandmann after longer versions of the video surfaced. It was one of the ugliest Internet attacks in recent memory.
Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart unjustifiably attacked the innocent teen in multiple columns. One column was headlined: “Nothing justifies what the Covington students did.” Odd choice of words since the Covington students did nothing wrong.
Still, Capehart’s hateful rant said: “Sandmann’s actions and those of his classmates were those of disrespectful children toward an adult.”
Capehart followed that with a column devoted to Sandmann’s smile: “Time to take on the Covington ‘smirk’” Oh no, not a smirk! The smile became a cultural metaphor. “Sandmann’s smirk struck me as the inverse of the Kavanaugh scowl,” Capehart wrote, tying the event to the recent Supreme Court nomination fight.
Capehart seemed obsessed by the fact that Sandmann was white and male. The incident was about “white male entitlement.” “Ask just about anyone who is not straight, white and male what they see in that smirk and you’ll most likely open up a world of hurt,” Capehart wrote.
Capehart was hardly the only Post staffer crusading against an innocent high school student. Fashion critic Robin Givhan was hateful to Sandmann and anyone who dared wear a MAGA hat. Donning the hat was “an inflammatory declaration of identity,” she wrote.
The Post, which loves identity politics from the left, couldn’t handle the idea that someone might want to identify with the right.
Givhan wrote: “To wear a MAGA hat is to wrap oneself in a Confederate flag.” She said it was “just as woeful and ugly.” She even chastised Sandmann for not fleeing from the confrontation that he didn’t start. “Sandmann did not seem to consider whether it was actually the right thing to do,” she wrote.
The newspaper even described the confrontation as “a reminder of 500 years of conflict” between Catholics and Native Americans. A minor incident became one more reason for the Post to attack Catholics.
The Post settlement is the second vindication for Sandmann. He already settled over the horrific treatment he received from CNN. He still has six more lawsuits filed against other media outlets.
Sandmann remained classy in victory. He tweeted: “Today, I turned 18 & WaPo settled my lawsuit.” He thanked his supporters and noted: “I still have more to do.”
You bet he does. He reminded Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey of that fact, tweeting: “The fight isn’t over. 2 down. 6 to go. Don’t hold your breath @jack.”
Conservative actor James Woods congratulated the young “hero” and mocked the losing press in a tweet: “So @WashingtonPost learns churning out fake news isn’t only despicable, it’s costly, too!”
If the Post were a legitimate news organization, it would learn from this episode. Heck, the newspaper’s leaders would even invite Sandmann in to teach their staff about not rushing to judgment and not hating people based on race or gender. Capehart, in particular, might benefit from that one.
But that level of professionalism wouldn’t appease the leftists in the newsroom or on Twitter, which mandates so much coverage. Instead, we can expect the Post to simply lie in wait and try to find its next victim.