The Strategy to Stop Fake News – Sue the Media

An important legal settlement was reached recently that pretty much flew under the radar. This settlement – a $250 million dollar defamation case against the Washington Post – could go a long way toward curbing irresponsible journalism. It’s a sign that at least some Americans are going to fight back against fake news.

The lawsuit was brought by the family of teenager Nick Sandman who was wrongly painted as a racist who had taunted a Native American elder named Nathan Phillips.
Remember the photograph of a fresh-faced Catholic high school kid from Kentucky reportedly “confronting” an older man who was chanting and beating a drum at a demonstration in Washington, DC? Initial stories accompanying that photo were completely wrong.
Here’s what really happened. After attending an anti-abortion rally near the Lincoln Memorial in January 2018, Nick and his fellow classmates, many wearing “Make America Great Again” souvenir hats, were waiting for their bus.

Phillips’ Group Was Just One of Many in DC to Demonstrate – wikimedia

The area was teaming with other activist groups, including Phillips’ Indigenous People’s March and the radical Black Hebrew Israelites. (The latter is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)
A two-hour long video that surfaced later revealed the Black Hebrew Israelites had been taunting the Kentucky kids and hurling disgusting racial and homophobic slurs at the teens for more than an hour. Suddenly, Native American activist Phillips appears banging a drum and chanting. He approaches a bewildered looking Nick and as they stare into each other’s eyes news cameras capture the momentary collision of two cultures.
A reporter for the Washington Post got no comments from Nick about the incident but quoted Phillips saying Nick was the aggressor, the student’s smile described as a derisive smirk. Phillips called the group of students ”beasts” and said they acted like, “a lynch mob.”
“I seen the angry faces,” Phillips said. “Everybody knows the right to life and (pro-choice), it’s been like this and they’re hateful to each other,” he said.

CNN Was Just One of Many Media to Pick Up the False Narrative

The unbalanced article, and a simultaneous CNN report, went viral around the world. Newsflash: a disrespectful Trump-inspired kid had all but spit in the face of an elderly man!
TV and print pundits, celebrities, the Bishop of the Kentucky diocese and several politicians, including Native American Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), condemned Nick for having displayed “blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance” for a “Native American Vietnam War Veteran.” The kids were at fault, Haaland said. “You could tell that by the hats they were wearing.”
Turns out Phillips is not a Vietnam Veteran as he has repeatedly claimed. He’s been called a professional “provocateur” and the full video proved Phillips’ statements about the students chanting, “Build that wall!” were incorrect.

Rep. Deb Haaland Assumed Racism

The bottom line: Nick Sandmann’s life was turned upside down by biased assumptions that his hat or the rally he’d just attended made him “the face of evil,” as his attorney later put it. After shoddy journalism was picked up by other lazy reporters who never bothered to get both sides of the story this 16-year-old became a despised villain.Now, 18-months after that fateful day, the Washington Post has admitted no wrongdoing but has agreed to a secret out-of-court settlement with Nick. CNN reached a similar agreement in January on its $275 million libel suit. That doesn’t mean the Sandmann’s got nearly that much money, but these settlements are a clear signal to news executives everywhere that at least some fake news will not go unchecked and that mere apologies or corrections don’t cut it.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the still pending suits Nick’s family filed against those who repeated the original one-sided story, including Gannett, ABC, CBS, the New York Times and Rolling Stone magazine.

Author of image:  Nick Youngson PicPedia free image
Bad or Biased Reporting Equals Fake News

The media enjoy many legal protections against their mistakes and that is why so few people who feel wronged by biased or fake news decide to sue. In the case of the Sandmann’s, they found a willing advocate in bulldog attorney Lin Wood who doesn’t shy away from tough cases.
As a practicing journalist for decades I never thought I’d be advocating lawsuits against colleagues. But it seems clear, the only way to derail this trend of sloppy reporting is to hit news organizations where it hurts most – in the wallet.



  1. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Reader KEVIN B PARK writes:

    …Or, one can simply turn off the television, or cancel subscriptions, as I have done. How did we get here? I used to love keeping up with the news. Now they are all so biased, I hate reading or watching the news. A once honorable profession has been totally trashed by political opportunists.

    Kevin Park

  2. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 9:53 am

    Reader Mike Uszuko

    Once again I just want to say that today’s article was outstanding. The mainstream media is so obviously biased. There is so very seldom any follow up on any big story that breaks. If the majority of thinking people could be able to see these kind of things as they happen on our country we would all be better for it. Sadly there is too much control over what we see and hear.
    Thanks for being a fair person in the media.


  3. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Reader Van Eldredge writes:

    Ms Dimond,

    I applaud you for wanting to hold your colleagues in the journalism world accountable for their inaccuracies. When and how do we also hold US Congresswoman Haaland accountable?
    Journalists wield an enormous amount of power and with it comes responsibilities. The civil court process offers a remedy for an alleged breach of that responsibility. Members of Congress also have enormous power and influence. They however can’t be sued. There is an expectation that responsible journalists will hold them accountable. Has anyone challenged the Congresswoman on her abuse of power?
    Thank you for your attention to this story.

    Van Eldredge

  4. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Reader Ronald Costales writes:

    Thank you, for keeping your journalistic integrity.

    Ron Costales

  5. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 9:57 am

    Reader DJ writes:

    Along with the mainstream media, we must not forget Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms that are biased and will censor the truth. Case in point is the recent attacks and hit pieces from NBC, MSNBC, Facebook, and CBC (Canada’s national broadcaster) directed at The Epoch Times Media Group.

    Lawsuits would be a good start!

  6. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 9:58 am

    Reader M J writes:

    Congrats Nick and sorry you had to go through the slander and bullying. I’ve been hoping people would do what you did for a long time. Class actions should be filed as well.

  7. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 9:58 am

    Reader America First writes:

    Thank you for continuing to fight against the fake news media. Lawsuits may be a great action plan.

  8. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 9:59 am

    Reader zasha kleb writes:

    I am so proud of him, his family, and the lawyers for going through with this case. Every single person impacted by everything the fake news has been doing for the last 10 years should be going back and looking at every single thing they can to figuring out a way to sue the mainstream media if they are at fault with their biased, political interference. They need some kind of consequence for their deceptive twisting biased political lying ways. They are supposed to be used to deliver the news not be used as a weapon by certain political parties or factions that want to take over a country.

  9. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Reader F Waller writes:

    Reporters won’t be responsible professionals until they are personally held responsible.

  10. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:01 am

    Reader Alten Roth writes:

    I can’t read enough about this. Every now and again the good guys really win! Congrats Nick and never stop punishing them!

  11. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:03 am

    Reader gdaddyava writes:

    Any kind of “Media”that does NOT present a fair opinion of the news, should be considered “Treasonous” They should NOT be on one side or the other! Down the middle only!!! Opinion is a different story!! Taking sides is the same as working for them!!! That’s the the role of journalism, has been from day one!!

  12. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:05 am

    Reader dsisham writes:

    Every story should be fact checked before print. That was the law in journalism. Every editor knew if the story was wrong it was his ass. Now with social media doing all the work the so called journalists do nothing. They stick a phone in your face and scream nasty questions at you but don’t let you answer. It’s because they make up what they want.

  13. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:05 am

    Reader AF Brat writes:

    As part of their reparations, Everyone that reported this crap should have to print a front page full retraction and apology in their papers, websites and all forms of social media.
    It is time to start taking out the leftist trash

    • Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:06 am

      Reader Episto Unum replies to AF Brat:

      Its not a left vs right issue. There are media outlets on both sides and each has their agenda. Its propaganda designed to manipulate you.

  14. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:06 am

    Reader Greg Shackelford writes:

    Great news. Go get him Nick and don’t back down. I’m sorry you went through all you did but now is your pay back and you can once again stand tall. Thank you also attorney Lin Woods for going up against the large companies. Without you, this would not have been possible.

  15. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:08 am

    Reader J.J. Finkleheimer-Schmidt writes:

    Great news. Part of me though wishes these cases would go the distance like pharma cases or Gawker. I’d love to see a major company blasting decision that sends shockwaves through the MSM.

    But I get it. All good news!!!!!

  16. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:10 am

    Reader Ms. Joyce writes:

    Great article…EXCEPT the ending, where Ms. Dimond calls it “sloppy reporting” instead of what it is…Deliberate lies and twisted half-truths that further a Marxist Agenda.

  17. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:11 am

    Reader carrmail writes:

    If we the people could just get unified…

  18. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:13 am

    Reader Disgusted1 writes:

    The Washington Post is a waste of space. Their total lack of respect for the dead was quite evident in their headlines today. I am thrilled, beyond words, that Mr. Sandmann won his case. Too bad it was not enough $$$$ to bankrupt the newspaper. WTG!!!!!
    Kudos to you! Thanks for publishing this article Ms Dimond. More people should be made aware this young man stood up for his rights and won.
    Have to add….love your “lazy reporters” comment! HAHAHAHA. EXACTLY!

  19. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:13 am

    Reader CanTankGirl-68 writes:

    That poor kid. It’s deplorable that these so called professionals feel they can get away with ruining a young persons reputation like this. I’m so glad he and his family refused to be bullied by big media with their fake B.S.

    • disappointed on August 24, 2020 at 6:55 pm

      I will never forget this – it was awful; and what about NBC? Savannah Guthrie kept asking Sandman such biased and accusatory questions. they need to be sued next.

  20. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 10:15 am

    Reader john mcvicar writes:

    This is NOT about ‘sloppy reporting’. This is about weaponizing media privileges to destroy the reputations of anyone who does not kneel down to the Totalitarian-run criminal media. Time to Bust these criminal CARTELS up.

  21. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Reader Michael Austin writes:

    Very Few can see through Fake News…..They Buy it all….This Young Man Did nothing. It was obvious…

  22. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 11:01 am

    Reaer Jeffrey Young writes:

    Read your piece. Thought-provoking. It is unfortunately too easy to take a few frames of video or a still and build a story around it – but lacking the context that explains the situation properly

  23. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 11:16 am

    Reader Steve Liddick writes:

    I think most fake news re-enforces what the reader-viewer-listener already believes. Not sure how many minds are changed. Still, the fakesters need to be outed.

  24. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Reader Greg Roncone writes:

    I think MSM will be a little more careful now before they report a story .

    • Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 11:17 am

      Diane replies to Greg:

      Hope so….or at least their editors/news directors should be more diligent going forward.

      • Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 2:18 pm

        Greg Roncone replies to Diane:

        I think they saw a kid at a pro life rally and took it from there .

  25. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Reader Jim Cundiff writes:

    Great idea, but – unlike the kid pictured – few people will have “standing.” He had been “wronged” and had “standing” to sue.

  26. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    Reader Donna R. Gore writes:

    Necessity is the mother of invention…and a less traveled path to justice! Bravo to him for setting the record straight! Shame on these news conglomerates who rush to judgement!

  27. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    Reader Bob LeMoullec writes:

    There’s sloppy work…a direct result to major newsroom cutbacks. On top of that, there’s the relentless attack on the First Amendment…calling anything you disagree with, “fake news”

  28. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    Reader Donald Shaffer writes:

    Great let’s hold Fox News to account first.

    • Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 2:35 pm

      Diane replies to Donald:

      ….and at the same time, Donald Shaffer, let’s be fair and add in MSNBC, the New York TImes, CNN. Okay? If we are completely honest we must all admit that there is LOTS of biased reporting out there – some of it just downright false. The Nick Sandmann case proves that. (Oh, and BTW, Sandmann did not sue FOX because that outlet didn’t report the original NYT’s/CNN angle to the story.)

  29. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    Reader Lorrie Sarafin writes:

    Amazing that this story was all over the news months ago but the settlement is totally ignored. Talk about a biased news media! Thanks for this Diane Dimond.

  30. Diane Dimond on August 17, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    Readers Mollie and Bill Geyer write:

    Dear Diane,

    I always enjoy reading your articles in the Albuquerque Journal. Last Saturday it was put aside to read later and I finally read it today. Thank you for your brave criticism of journalism here and in many newspapers!

    More people need to speak out and they won’t be so ready to be lazy and write their opinions rather than search for the facts. Our state and national senators are not speaking out like they should also against fake news.


    Mollie Geyer

  31. Diane Dimond on August 19, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    Reader Michael Wright writes:

    Great story Diane, I wish the media would cover the stories of their settlements as well. My opinion is that most news agencies are slanted, and opinionated to appeal to their audience. There are a couple that just flat out make things up, and/or totally distort the truth. I think the biggest offenders need to change before the others follow.

  32. Diane Dimond on August 19, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    Reader Emanuelle Brun writes:

    Yes, and the plandemic is loaded with fake news from all angles

  33. Diane Dimond on August 19, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Reader Ann O’Neill writes:

    I think it’s very similar to cop-think, when what you think you see fulfills the narrative you’ve already written in your head. The world is usually more nuanced than the stories we tell ourselves.

  34. Diane Dimond on August 21, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    Reader teeniebuzzer writes:

    You got that right. CNN & WaPo had no basis for their claims about him. If Sandmann I’ve been wearing a Hope & Change hat, not a single one of those fake stories would’ve been published about him.

  35. Diane Dimond on August 31, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    Reader Erika McDonald@Erikasf writes:

    I agree with you here. I don’t agree with @N1ckSandmann about abortion, but he was unfairly treated by some media outlets. I’m glad he spoke at RNC.

  36. Diane Dimond on September 9, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Reader Jan Kunz writes:

    Unfortunately, sloppy journalism is not unique. The situation you described in the August 15 Albuquerque Journal is what I also call “bandwagon journalism” – which encourages reporters to jump on whatever the current bandwagon is without checking the facts. In this case, the reporter saw a boy in an unpopular (to the reporter) hat close to the man with a drum who must be an admired protester of some sort. The reporter immediately recognizes the situation – the boy (bad) is obviously antagonizing the man (good). This view gets the reporter a story that his peers will love and agree with plus be a journalistic feather in his cap. Not only are the optics great but it underscores the popular view.

    That particular type of incident is not unique. Remember the young man who was accused of rape (I don’t remember the name of the southern school, but he ended up being acquitted several very expensive years later and had his life ruined for a fair amount of time). The only possible way to discourage this sort of reporting would be to promote a review of our libel laws to make things a bit fairer. The Brits do a better job with this. The person being accused, if their case is won, has their attorneys’ fees and expenses paid by whoever wrote the article. The much better result is you’re not put into the position of having to both defend and impoverish yourself in order for the situation to be corrected.

    Doing something about this is long overdue, but unfortunately, it’s not on anyone’s A-List right now – except possibly your’s and mine. Your Op-Eds are great!

    Best regards,
    Jan Kunz

Leave a Comment