Nicholas Sandmann returned to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to deliver a speech for the Republican National Convention. The Kentucky teenager became the focus of mainstream media last year. A video online showed Sandmann, who was wearing a “Make America Great Again,’ interact with a Native American man.
In his speech, Sandmann thanked President Donald Trump for the opportunity to tell his side of the story. He called out both the media and cancel culture.
“Looking back now, how could I possibly have imagined that the simple act of putting on that red hat would unleash the hate from the left and make myself the target of network and cable news networks, nationwide?” he said.
Nicholas Sandmann said the video didn’t reflect the true story.
In January 2019, Sandmann and his classmates attended a March for Life event in Washington D.C. Sandmann met Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial. Phillips was demonstrating for Native American rights.
Sandmann and Phillips later said they were trying to diffuse tensions between three various demonstration groups, according to the Daily Mail. The video that surfaced online showed Phillips banging a drum in the face of a smiling Sandmann. Media outlets admonished Sandmann for “smirking,” but Sandmann insists it was an “awkward smile.”
“I was standing with my hands behind my back and an awkward smile on my face that hid two thoughts,” Sandmann said. “One, don’t do anything that might further agitate the man banging a drum in my face and two, trying to follow a family friend’s advice never to do anything to embarrass your family, your school, or your community.”
Sandmann sued CNN and other media outlets for defamation. He said the video had been taken out of context to infer he and his classmates had been taunting Phillips. Sandmann reached a confidential settlement with CNN in January 2020.
Sandmann calls for media accountability.
In his speech, Sandmann urged for balanced coverage from the mainstream media and commented on the dangers of cancel culture. He highlighted his own experience as well as what he sees as a media biasness against Trump. Sandmann pledged his support to the President’s reelection campaign.
“While much more must be done, I look forward to the day that the media returns to providing balanced, responsible and accountable news coverage,” he said.