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Washington Post finally admits mistakes in coverage of Covington Catholic incident

One of the students has sued the Post

Washington Post video screenshot

More than a month after the original incident, The Washington Post has issued an editor's note correcting it's erroneous reporting on the confrontation between Native American activist Nathan Phillips and the Covington Catholic High School students.

Early reports from the event portrayed the students as instigators who were mocking and harassing Phillips. The imagery of a white teenager wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat while smiling and staring down a Native American man fit perfectly with a narrative many in the media, including at The Post, were eager to jump on.

But, the more details that came out about the situation, the more it became clear that Phillips was not an innocent victim of harassment and ridicule from Trump-supporting students.

Here's what the Post had to say about it in the Friday note:

A Washington Post article first posted online on Jan. 19 reported on a Jan. 18 incident at the Lincoln Memorial. Subsequent reporting, a student's statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story — including that Native American activist Nathan Phillips was prevented by one student from moving on, that his group had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the encounter, and that the students were trying to instigate a conflict. The high school student facing Phillips issued a statement contradicting his account; the bishop in Covington, Ky., apologized for the statement condemning the students; and an investigation conducted for the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School found the students' accounts consistent with videos.Subsequent Post coverage, including video, reported these developments: "Viral standoff between a tribal elder and a high schooler is more complicated than it first seemed"; "Kentucky bishop apologizes to Covington Catholic students, says he expects their exoneration"; "Investigation finds no evidence of 'racist or offensive statements' in Mall incident."

A Jan. 22 correction to the original story reads: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly said that Native American activist Nathan Phillips fought in the Vietnam War. Phillips said he served in the U.S. Marines but was never deployed to Vietnam.

It is important to note that The Washington Post is being sued by one of the Covington students, Nicholas Sandmann, who was most prominently featured in the videos of the incident and whose reputation was significantly attacked in the aftermath.

Sandmann is suing the Post for $250 million, claiming he was defamed based on a "deceptively edited" video. Sandmann's lawyers accused the Post of leading a "mainstream and social media mob of bullies which attacked, villified and threatened" him.

One last thing…
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