Kurtz: Reporters Who Quickly Accused Covington Students Need to Do 'Soul-Searching'
MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz said Wednesday that the "serious errors" made by The Washington Post in their coverage of the Covington High School controversy don't add up to the $250 million lawsuit against them.
The lawsuit accuses The Post of practicing "a modern-day form of McCarthyism" by targeting student Nicholas Sandmann and "using its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles ... to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the president."
Sandmann was at the center of the viral controversy last month, in which he and fellow students were accused of confronting a Native American protester in Washington, D.C.
Kurtz said on America's Newsroom that The Post relied on the first video to surface, which showed Sandmann face-to-face with protester Nathan Phillips, and also relied on information from Phillips that turned out to be false.
"That doesn't add up to malice, which is what they lawsuit charges, and it doesn't necessarily add up to a $250 million libel judgement," he said.
Kurtz said that a "social media mob" descended on Sandmann and his classmates in an unfair way because of "very flawed" reporting.
The lawsuit also claims that The Post falsely accused Sandmann, 16, of chanting, "Build that wall" and "Trump 2020."
"To make these charges and lawsuits and say it's all political and The Post hates Trump and that's why this was done, it was malice, I think that's a much tougher case to make in a courtroom," Kurtz said.
The president also commented on the suit Wednesday, tweeting that The Post "ignored basic journalistic standards" to advance its "biased agenda" against him.
“The Washington Post ignored basic journalistic standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump.” Covington student suing WAPO. Go get them Nick. Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2019
Kurtz said that the controversy revealed that there needs to be "journalistic soul-searching" by journalists and organizations that were quick to accuse the high school students involved.
"I'm not sure it ultimately gets settled in a courtroom, although I think more lawsuits are coming and that's gonna cost these organizations a lot of money. But I do think it was a real journalistic failure and one that we, perhaps, haven't fully explored the lessons of."
Watch more of Kurtz's discussion with Sandra Smith above.