A Kentucky teenager known for video of his interaction with a Native American man at the Lincoln Memorial last year said Tuesday he would not succumb to ‘cancel culture’ as he made remarks on Day Two of the Republican National Convention.
Nicholas Sandmann, 17, told the convention that he believes news outlets were driven by ‘anti-Christian, anti-conservative, anti-Donald Trump’ bias in reporting on the incident because he was wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat.
‘And if advancing their narrative ruined the reputation and future of a teenager from Covington, Kentucky, well, so be it,’ Sandmann said in a pre-recorded message from the Lincoln Memorial – the location of the incident that made him famous. ‘That will teach him not to wear a MAGA hat!’
The Covington Catholic High School student’s reached a settlement with CNN, who he sued for defamation. The amount was nearly disclosed due to a quirk in court rules, but will now remain confidential after the pandemic delayed scheduled hearings until after his 18th birthday.
Video of the January 2019 encounter showed Sandmann and Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist, standing very close to each other, with Sandmann staring, and at times smiling, as Phillips sang and pounded on a drum.
Sandmann said media outlets attempted to ‘cancel’ him in their coverage of the confrontation.
‘My life changed forever in that one moment. The full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode,’ Sandmann claimed. ‘They did so without ever researching the full video of the incident; without ever investigating Mr. Philips’ motives; or without ever asking me for my side of the story. And do you know why? Because the truth wasn’t important.’
‘I learned that what was happening to me had a name. It was called being canceled,’ he continued. ‘Canceled is what’s happening to people around this country who refuse to be silenced by the far left. Many are being fired, humiliated or even threatened. Often, the media is a willing participant.’
Sandmann insisted: ‘But I wouldn’t be cancelled. I fought back hard to expose the media for what they did to me and won a personal victory.’
‘While much more must be done, I look forward to the day that the media returns to providing balanced, responsible and accountable news coverage. I know President Trump hopes for that too,’ Sandmann concluded his remarks.
He also claimed Trump is the biggest ‘victim of unfair media coverage.’
Sandmann detailed at the convention Tuesday that he bought the ‘MAGA’ hat while he was in Washington D.C. on a school trip to participate in the pro-life March for Life annual protest through the capital.
‘In January 2019, I attended the March for Life in Washington D.C. where I demonstrated in defense of the unborn,’ Sandmann detailed during his pre-recorded speech. ‘Later that day, I bought a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat because our President, Donald Trump, has distinguished himself as the most pro-life Presidents in the history of our country and I wanted to express my support for him too.’
During the trip, Sandmann went viral after Phillips went up to the student wearing his new red ‘MAGA’ hat, and pounded on a drum a few inches from his face. The teenager was excoriated in the media for a smirk he had during the confrontation.
Sandmann explained Tuesday that the ‘awkward smile’ was an attempt to hide his thoughts and avoid embarrassing himself or further instigating Phillips.
Sandmann reached a confidential settlement with CNN in January, after suing the network for $275 million and saying it defamed him in coverage of a viral video last year.
The settlement amount was nearly disclosed through a Kenton County, Kentucky probate case because, at the time, Sandmann was a minor and couldn’t claim the money directly, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Due to court delays in the coronavirus pandemic, Sandmann recently turned 18 and, no longer a minor, was able to claim the money himself, according to court documents.
Sandmann was among the students from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky who were participating in the March For Life anti-abortion rally in Washington DC in January 2019.
Footage of his face-off with Nathan Phillips, who was participating in a separate demonstration supporting Native American rights, spread widely online.
Both Sandmann, who was wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ cap, and Phillips later said they were trying to defuse tensions among three separate groups participating in various demonstrations, including Black Hebrew Israelites who had arrived apparently to counter-protest the Native Americans.
Video of the encounter showed Phillips walking up to Sandmann and standing very close to him, with Sandmann staring, and at times smiling, as Phillips sang and banged a drum in his face.
Sandmann later settled lawsuits against CNN and other media outlets, saying that they had taken the video clip out of context to falsely accuse him and other Covington students of taunting and intimidating Phillips.
The Kentucky teen is among Tuesday’s scheduled speakers at the virtual Republican National Convention.
Sandmann will urge voters to reelect President Donald Trump in his speech during the gathering’s second night, when the theme is ‘Land of Opportunity.’
Sandmann, who now identifies himself on Twitter as a spokesman for the Transylvania University College Republicans, tweeted that he couldn’t express ‘enough about how excited I am to be apart of this years RNC!’
He will be featured along with first lady Melania Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as the convention focuses on many hot-button issues, including abortion and Middle East policy, and portrays Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as too extreme to win November’s election.
‘We need to keep talking about Joe Biden´s radical policies,’ Trump reelection campaign manager Bill Stepien said during an online interview with Politico on Tuesday.
‘The more we talk about the Democrat policies being pushed by Joe Biden and the radical fringe of his party, the better we are. The more our standing improves in this race.’
Last month, a lawyer for Sandmann vowed to take additional legal action against CNN and the Washington Post for allegedly breaching confidentiality agreements under the settlements they made in the initial lawsuits.
Attorney Lin Wood put the outlets back in his crosshairs as he accused CNN anchor Brian Stetler and a Post reporter of breaking confidentiality by tweeting speculation about the settlements.