Save for Juan, the hosts of Fox News’ “The Five” responded positively Wednesday to news that CNN has agreed to settle with Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann over the reputational and punitive damages he suffered last year because of their poor reporting.
“This is really good news for everybody on the planet because it’s a turning point,” co-host Greg Gutfeld argued. “Before there wasn’t any consequences to social media mobbery and the cancel culture, where somebody could dig up something from Brian or Juan’s past and destroy you. …”
“But now, if you know that somebody can sue you, that changes your behavior. And if you don’t have deep pockets, your company has to be worried. I think this could put an end to the swarm — the thing that happens when somebody finds out you said something stupid when you were 16. I hope they got something good.”
(Source: Fox News)
Sandmann learned firsthand of the so-called “swarm” last January when, after attending a pro-life rally in Washington, D.C., with his school peers, he posted up near the Lincoln Memorial to just hang out and kick it.
What happened next wound up triggering a media-led smear campaign that nearly ruined his life.
First, a group of racist Black Hebrew Israelites began harassing the teens with racial insults. As the abuse unfolded, a shady Native American activist by the name of Nathan Phillips sought to intervene by marching up to the kids while banging on a drum.
Video footage from the scene showing a smiling Sandmann standing silently in front of Phillips as he played his drum quickly went viral across the Internet and was used to justify accusing him and his peers of harassing Phillips.
However, thanks to conservative media, the following footage soon emerged and proved Phillips had started the altercation, not Sandmann and his peers:
While all the networks that smeared him, including CNN, quickly corrected their initial reports, they refused to apologize. So in response, Sandmann sued last March.
Now fast-forward to this Tuesday, when CNN settled in court and agreed to pay the teen an unspecified amount for the damages incurred.
While the amount paid remains unknown (though some have speculated it was $25 million), the ramifications of the settlement will linger for years to come.
Yes, We settled with CNN.
— Nick Sandmann (@N1ckSandmann) January 7, 2020
Dovetailing back to the discussion on “The Five,” guest co-host Katie Pavlich continued it by asking the show’s resident left-winger, Juan Williams, his thoughts on the matter.
“Juan, isn’t this is a learning moment for reporters everywhere that you should be interested in the facts and not the narrative first?” she asked.
As usual, he wasn’t quick to agree …
“I hope you’re always interested in the facts first,” he said sarcastically as a dig at his conservative peers before supplying his actual answer.
“I don’t know what this means,” he said. “A lot of people who don’t like CNN say CNN admitted they did wrong. I know lawyers. The lawyers say if we are to go through a trial, we have to go through emails. I don’t think the kid got all of that money.”
His argument was the exact one posited by CNN — that the network’s settlement wasn’t an admission of guilt but rather a pragmatic move designed to avoid a costly trial and thus save the company money in the long run.
“The settlement will allow CNN to avoid a lengthy and potentially unpredictable trial,” the outlet reported Tuesday evening, spinning the settlement as a cost- and time-sharing move versus one rooted in it accepting culpability.
“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.” Details of the settlement were not released. https://t.co/sxOSuZUOD3
— Tim Morris (@tmorris504) January 8, 2020
However, guest co-host Brian Kilmeade noted that this is just the beginning — that Sandmann still has ongoing lawsuits against other giant mainstream networks.
“They’re still suing NBC and The Washington Post, and 13 more defendants are going to be named — ABC, CBS, The Guardian, HuffPost, NPR, Slate, and The Hill are all coming up and going to get hit with lawsuits,” he said.
“They went after a teenager,” Pavlich added. “They did it because he was wearing a MAGA hat. They said all these horrible things about him.”
“His reputation was destroyed and put on the Internet forever. And then they didn’t get up and give the same amount of coverage to the entire context of the story as they did to the immediate narrative that they all put out there.”
And that’s the point, Kilmeade concluded. Even if they settle, the issue isn’t a matter of money — it’s a matter of principle.
“A lot of people, big companies don’t want to go through [a complicated trial] — they write a check, but in this case, this kid asked for an apology. If they’d just said ‘listen, I blew it,’ this thing would have been over,” he said.
But instead, the media chose to double, triple and quadruple down — and now they’re being forced to pay a tangible price for it.
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