President Donald Trump praised a Kentucky teen Wednesday for suing The Washington Post.
In an early-morning barrage of tweets, Trump ripped The Washington Post and cheered the Covington teen’s lawsuit against the paper that alleges the newspaper falsely accused him of racist acts in a confrontation with Native American activists in January.
“Go get them Nick. Fake News!” Trump tweeted.
Nicholas Sandmann, the 16-year-old Covington Catholic High School junior who faced off with Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last month, filed a $250 million lawsuit against The Washington Post on Tuesday for its reporting on a viral video of the incident.
The president quoted a line from the lawsuit that said the paper “ignored basic journalistic standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump.”
In a tweet sent 20 minutes earlier, at 4:20 a.m., Trump fumed that “The Press has never been more dishonest than it is today. Stories are written that have absolutely no basis in fact. The writers don’t even call asking for verification.”
“They are totally out of control,” Trump continued, before pivoting to take credit for the continued existence of the news media. “Sadly, I kept many of them in business. In six years, they all go BUST!”
The president’s animosity for the media has been a cornerstone of his rhetoric since he launched his campaign in 2015, popularizing the term “fake news,” and often targeting outlets that run stories critical of his administration or supporters.
The lawsuit portrays Sandmann as “an innocent secondary school child” victimized by “a modern-day form of McCarthyism,” naming The Washington Post, CNN, NBC and a “social media mob of bullies which attacked, vilified, and threatened Nicholas Sandmann.”
Early reports featured video of the incident showing a smiling Sandmann with a “Make America Great Again” hat facing off with Phillips. It was interpreted by some that Sandmann was taunting the Native American activist. Later reports walked back that characterization when more video emerged showing how the scene developed.
The lawsuit said the newspaper “wrongfully targeted and bullied Nicholas because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ souvenir cap on a school field trip” at an anti-abortion rally.
Lawyers for Sandmann said the $250-million lawsuit is “the first lawsuit” against The Washington Post and that the action is “only the beginning.”