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Lawyer for Covington Catholic’s Nick Sandmann Threatens CNN’s Brian Stelter and Others for Tweeting About Defamation Case


Lin Wood, an attorney for Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann, appears to have threatened via Twitter to sue CNN’s Brian Stelter for retweeting an analysis of the case penned by an attorney who is unaffiliated with the matter.

CNN settled a defamation lawsuit earlier this year with Sandmann, a student caught in a series of viral videos in Washington, D.C.  The videos showed various stages of an interaction between a group of classmates and a Native American protester.  CNN was among a number of named media companies and individuals who either were or are defendants in the case.  The Washington Post settled last week.

On Monday evening, Wood said the retweet “may have cost” Stelter “his job.”

“It is called breach of [a] confidentiality agreement. Brian Stelter is a liar. I know how to deal with liars,” Wood said.

He also lodged similar threats against CNN’s Asha Rangappa and against the Washington Post’s Dan Zak, this time including the clearer threat that Sandmann “is going to [be] filing another lawsuit” if things did not change:

When asked if Rangappa’s tweet was still a problem because she was merely a contributor, Wood replied, “yes.”

Wood replied in the affirmative when asked if he “had a conversation with their attorney today that left them very uncomfortable.” He also said CNN knows “who they are messing with.”

When asked about the actual terms of the deal, Wood demurred.

He also replied affirmatively that he was having “fun” with the situation.

And, he dismissed claims that the aforementioned talent were not parties to the settlement and therefore not bound by its confidentiality provisions.

Stelter retweeted a comment by Attorney Mark Zaid (which was itself a retweet, with added criticism aimed at yet another reporter’s description of the settlement Sandmann reached with the Washington Post last week). The other reporter’s original tweet was deleted at some point after Zaid called him out. Zaid confirmed to Law&Crime that he was not involved with the Sandmann litigation.

Zaid also retweeted — with hearty agreement — a lengthy analysis of the Sandmann settlement written by another purported attorney.  Wood, in an email to Law&Crime, rubbished that analysis.  Our description of that Twitter maelstrom is here.

To no one’s surprise, after ripping Rangappa, Stelter, and and Zak, Wood (Sandmann’s attorney) turned his attention Monday to Zaid (who was commenting on the case):

Wood then dismissed attempts by others to suggest that that he himself had done a disservice. By characterizing Stelter’s tweet as an authoritative leak of a confidential settlement, Wood was perceived by a few people on Twitter as confirming the underlying postulate that Sandmann did, indeed, receive a paltry nuisance payment. Again, Wood said that was not the case:

Wood ultimately admitted that he tagged the wrong person in one of his earlier Tweets and sought to remedy the matter.

One critical piece of the litigation is that some news organizations backtracked quickly on the Sandmann reports as facts emerged about exactly what happened — while others allegedly did not.

Stelter did not respond to a Law&Crime request for comment on the threat to drag him into the litigation.

[image via YouTube screengrab]

Editor’s note:  This report has been updated for clarity and to confirm that Zaid is not affiliated with the litigation in any way.  Law&Crime previously reported that Zaid was believed not to have been involved with the litigation.

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.