Covington Catholic students in video treated unfairly by media

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — More than 48 hours after a video showing students and a Native American elder went viral, President Donald Trump has weighed in on the Covington Catholic video controversy.

In a tweet Monday night, Trump expressed support for the Kentucky high school students who were shown on video in a confrontation over the weekend, saying that the teenagers had been treated unfairly in the media.

“Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false – smeared by media,” Trump’s tweet read. “Not good, but making big comeback! ‘New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American’ @TuckerCarlson.”

Trump was referring to Nick Sandmann, the junior at the Northern Kentucky high school at the center of the incident. Sandmann and dozens of classmates were seen on a viral video filmed Friday standing face-to-face with Native American activist Nathan Phillips, who was pounding an indigenous drum in Sandmann’s face and chanting.

Tucker Carlson, a Fox News media personality, spoke on his show earlier Monday about the incident, which drew national backlash against the Kentucky students and, later, against the Native American man involved in the confrontation.

More: Fuller video casts new light on Covington Catholic students’ encounter with Native American elder

More: Native American veteran: ‘Mob mentality’ in students seen in viral video was ‘scary’

The initial impression was that Sandmann, seen smiling at Phillips while wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat as his classmates appeared to egg on the conflict, was acting disrespectfully toward the Native American man. In the aftermath, Covington Catholic High School and the Diocese of Covington condemned the behavior of the students, with the diocese promising to investigate.

That narrative was called into question Sunday when more videos from the incident emerged, showing a group of Black Hebrew Israelites taunting the students and calling them offensive names before Phillips and his group walked between the two groups. Some accused Phillips of fanning the flames and encouraging the confrontation.

More: ‘Blatant racism’: Ky. high school apologizes following backlash after video shows students surrounding indigenous marchers

The student issued a statement later Sunday saying that he wasn’t trying to inflame tensions and that “outright lies (were) being spread about my family and me.”

RunSwitch PR, a Louisville-based public relations firm, later confirmed that it had been hired by the Sandmann family in the aftermath of the incident to “offer professional counsel with what has become a national media story” and “ensure an accurate recounting of events which occurred this past weekend.”

President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., has been a vocal supporter of the students in the aftermath of the incident.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, the congressman who represents the Covington area, and Sen. Rand Paul have also come to the defense of the Kentucky students.

Follow Lucas Aulbach on Twitter: @LucasAulbachCJ. 

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