The Washington Post has corrected its erroneous coverage of the confrontation between the boys from Covington Catholic and the activist Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial, two months after publishing the misleading story.
Admitting that “subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video” either contradicted or didn’t support the initial story, the belated editors’ note acknowledges the Covington boys did not taunt, provoke, or stand in the way of Phillips. It also removed a tweet quoting Phillips’ claim that they did exactly that, in which the paper falsely refers to the Native American protester as a Vietnam veteran.
The Post’s correction follows a $250 million defamation lawsuit filed by Nick Sandmann, the 16-year-old protagonist of the viral video that inspired the original story. Like most other mainstream media outlets, the Post framed Sandmann and his classmates as instigators and Phillips as a victim, focusing on the boys’ “white privilege” and apparent political affiliation without attempting to fact-check the content of the video or contact the people involved.
Sandmann, his classmates, and their families were doxxed and received death threats as the story spread across social media.
After the full-length video of the confrontation was widely circulated, exonerating Sandmann and his classmates, a few of the celebrities and media figures who had demanded the boys’ heads on Twitter apologized. Most didn’t, and Sandmann’s lawyer Lin Wood said the lawsuit against the Post is “only the beginning,” reportedly sending warning letters to the New York Times, CNN, the Guardian, NPR, and such boldface names as Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher, Elizabeth Warren and Joy Reid, advising them not to destroy any “evidence” relating to the case.