Washington Post under fire after posting video of encounter of Kentucky teen at Lincoln Memorial

28 Feb

You may recognize the name Nicholas Sandmann, but you might not. Sandmann was the teenage boy seen in the video that went viral back in January. This video was published to the Washington Post and was between Sandmann and a native american man whose name is Nathan Phillips. Sandmann was on a school trip and Phillips had participated in the Indigenous People’s March. In the video you see Sandmann who was wearing a “MAGA” hat standing face to face with Phillips smiling, while Phillips was beating a drum and chanting. Watching this video with no background context made it seem like Sandmann was mocking or being racist toward Phillips. Sandmann’s classmates were in the background antagonizing the situation.

Well, it looks like the family of Nicholas Sandmann wasn’t happy with the Washington Post after this incident took place. The family is claiming that the post was a modern-day form of McCarthyism, and that it “ ignored basic journalist standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President.” For those of you who are not aware of what McCarthyism is it was time back in the 1950’s where people would accuse others of treason or being communist. This ruined in people’s lives because they would lose their jobs.

I believe the family of Nicholas Sandmann has a case against the Washington Post for multiple reasons. The first being that the Washington Post failed to show the whole video of what had taken place. If the whole video was shown then people would see that the teen didn’t instigate the fight. Nathan Phillips had actually instigated the fight and made false statements about the encounter. By doing this it ruined Sandmann’s life, he received death threats, cyber-bullying, and tarnished his name. As a journalist we are never supposed to defame someone especially if we don’t have all the facts. The Washington Post only published what they wanted to see and by doing so the Sandmann family now has a case. Secondly, the teen was wearing a MAGA hat. In today’s world there is mixed emotions on people support trump and his MAGA movement. So seeing a white teenage boy wearing a MAGA hat while smiling in the face of a native american outraged millions.

I do believe the Washington Post is wrong legally and ethically. They hurt themselves by jumping the gun and posting a video that did not show the entirety of the incident. Sandmann was obviously going to be ridiculed because he was surrounded by classmates that were taunting Phillips in the background. I saw the video of myself and right away you can see Sandmann looks like the bad guy. He was immediately labeled a racist. Had the Washington Post posted the whole video then it would show the teens minding their business, and Phillips starting the encounter. Instead, we only see part of a video which makes a teenage boy seem like a white privilege racist. Ethically this is wrong because they did not take the time to investigate as journalist and the end result was they damaged a teenage boys reputation. They put him into harm’s way because he was receiving threats. They tarnished his name which can now hurt him in future endeavors. One of the principles for ethics in journalism is to provide the truth and to be accurate. As seen the Washington Post broke this principle when they did not publish the truth. They also broke the fairness and and impartiality principle. Like it states on this article there are two sides to every story, but only one side of this story was published and for that the Washington Post is in fact wrong.


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