CNN settles defamation lawsuit with Kentucky teen in Washington Memorial case

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - CNN has settled with a Kentucky teenager who sued the network for defamation over its coverage of his encounter with a Native American at the Washington Memorial a year ago.

The amount of the settlement between Nick Sandmann and CNN was not disclosed. A CNN spokesperson on Tuesday confirmed the settlement in a statement emailed to Reuters, but declined to comment on the details.

Sandmann said on Twitter: “Yes. We settled with CNN”.

Sandmann had sought $275 million in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Kentucky after he said the network falsely conveyed to its viewers that he was “the face of an unruly mob” facing Nathan Phillips, an American Indian activist.

The Jan. 18, 2019 encounter was captured in photos and on video and went viral, generating widespread media coverage.

The images depicted Sandmann staring and smiling at Phillips as the activist sung and beat a drum, and triggered outrage on social media with some viewers saying it appeared Sandmann was mocking Phillips.

The lawsuit said CNN falsely accused Sandmann and the other students of “engaging in racist conduct” without properly investigating the incident.

“The CNN accusations are totally and unequivocally false, and CNN would have known them to be untrue had it undertaken any reasonable efforts to verify their accuracy before publication,” the lawsuit said.

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Sandmann and his classmates from Covington Catholic High School were in Washington to attend the annual March for Life anti-abortion rally.

A private investigation firm hired by the Catholic Diocese of Covington in Park Hills, Kentucky concluded that the Covington students did not instigate the confrontation.

The lawsuit claimed that because Sandmann and other students were wearing caps emblazoned with the “Make American Great Again” slogan used by President Donald , an anti- bias at the network led them to put out a series of “defamatory” broadcasts and news stories.

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Sandmann has also sued NBC Universal and the Washington Post for their coverage of the incident on similar grounds. Those cases are still pending.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Edwina Gibbs)

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