Kyle Rittenhouse trial: MAGA teen Nicholas Sandmann urges defendant to sue media for defamation

In a column this week, Sandmann writes: ‘The parallels between me and Kyle Rittenhouse are impossible not to draw’

<p>Teenager settled lawsuit against CNN out of court</p>

Teenager settled lawsuit against CNN out of court

Nicholas Sandmann, a former Kentucky high school student who was embroiled in controversy after being filmed in an apparent confrontation with a Native American while wearing a MAGA hat in January 2019, has urged Kyle Rittenhouse to sue the media for defamation.

Mr Sandmann was 16 years old when a video of his encounter with activist Nathan Phillips on the National Mall in Washington, DC, was splashed into headlines portraying him as the aggressor. A longer version of the video later revealed that Mr Phillips had approached him.

The teen’s family filed several defamation lawsuits against media outlets, including The Washington Post and CNN. The CNN suit was settled out of court while the $250m Post suit was dismissed.

In a column for the Daily Mail on Tuesday, Mr Sandmann urged Mr Rittenhouse to take his own legal action against the media.

“The parallels between me and Kyle Rittenhouse are impossible not to draw,” he wrote.

“Kyle was 17-years-old when he became a household name after that terrible tragedy in Kenosha. I was 16-years-old when I was catapulted into the national conversation by video of an encounter with a Native American activist on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

“Kyle was almost immediately labelled a ‘white supremacist’ and a ‘domestic terrorist’. To many, my red MAGA hat clearly meant that I was a racist.

“The attacks on Kyle came from the national news media, just as they came for me.”

Kyle Rittenhouse is pictured in court on 16 November 2021

Mr Sandmann accused the media of rushing to judgment in both cases, and withdrawing inaccuracies “after the damage has been done”.

Drawing on his own experience, Mr Sandmann acknowledged that defamation suits are hard to win, but told Mr Rittenhouse: “Give it a shot and hold the media accountable.”

One day after the column was published, the judge presiding over Mr Rittenhouse’s trial unleashed his own attack on “grossly irresponsible handling” of the trial by the media.

The media was thrust into the spotlight again on Thursday, when a man purporting to be a producer for MSNBC was allegedly caught trying to photograph a jury bus.

Judge Schroeder subsequently banned MSNBC from the courtroom, calling the ordeal “very serious”.

NBC News responded to the allegations by saying its “freelancer never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations and never photographed or intended to photograph them”.

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