Accuracy in Media

CNN announced that it settled a defamation lawsuit with Kentucky high school student Nicholas Sandmann and his family. CNN published the announcement with the headline, “CNN settles lawsuit with Nick Sandmann stemming from viral video controversy,” but neglected to include why the lawsuit was filed in the first place.

CNN’s summary called the impending trial “a lengthy and potentially unpredictable trial” as one of the reasons for the settlement. It also mentioned how the lawsuit sought $275 million in damages and how it was unclear what the settlement amount was.

CNN did not break the news, either, which was first reported by a local Ohio-Kentucky television station WXIX. It would appear that CNN preferred to sweep the news under the rug, but the local television station did its due diligence in reporting the news.

Yet, CNN did not discuss why Sandmann filed the lawsuit. CNN said was that he “became a national story” when he was in Washington, D.C. for the 2019 March for Life rally. A video, which CNN circulated (as did the rest of the mainstream media), portrayed Sandmann in an unflattering light when he met an indigenous protest participant named Nathan Phillips.  A second video showed a different perspective of the encounter, debunking much of the criticism aimed at Sandmann.

CNN added that the “first video had gone viral, touching off widespread controversy as photos of the teenager and the red Make America Great Again that he was wearing spread across social media.” The second video “provided additional context for the encounter,” such as members of the Black Hebrew Israelites taunting Sandmann and his fellow high school students.

Again, there was not a single mention nor example of CNN’s alleged defamation in CNN’s summary of the lawsuit settlement. CNN chose to ignore Sandmann’s allegations and decided to water down the controversy in its summary. The cable news network failed to point out how much negative criticism was directed at Sandmann after CNN aired the first video, due in part to CNN not explaining the context of the video to its viewers and audiences.

The lawsuit has been settled, but CNN’s reputation was battered after being exposed as a one-sided, biased network.




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