Commentary

Covington Student Did No Wrong

Terence P. Jeffrey
By Terence P. Jeffrey | January 23, 2019 | 4:59 AM EST

CNN plays a short and misleading tape of Nathan Phillips beating a drum in the face of Covington Catholic High School junior, Nick Sandmann. (Screen Capture)

Since the advent of instant replay, American football fans have learned that not every videotape tells the truth.

A videotape taken from one angle may make it seem as if a receiver caught the ball, when a tape taken from another shows he clearly did not.

A tape that breaks off with a runner in midair extending the ball toward — but not over — the goal line cannot be used to determine whether the runner actually scored.

A fuller tape might show he fumbled before the ball crossed the plain of the goal line — or that his knee hit the ground first.

Anyone who claims to know for a fact that the runner scored before seeing the full tape is a fool, or a mindless — or dishonest — partisan of the team he or she claims scored.

We saw many fools and mindless partisans this past weekend when it came to reviewing a short videotape of an older man pounding a drum and singing a song just inches from the face of a teenage boy.

We were instructed by the liberal media that the boy and his companions are the malefactors here, and that the adult man is the victim.

The boys are students at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, and the man is Nathan Phillips. The boys were in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life, he for the Indigenous Peoples March.

The boys had gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to catch their bus back to Kentucky.

In a story the Washington Post posted Saturday, Phillips gave a version of what happened.

"In an interview Saturday, Phillips, 64, said he felt threatened by the teens and that they swarmed around him as he and other activists were wrapping up the march and preparing to leave," the Post reported.

"It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: 'I've got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,'" Phillips told the Post. "I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way, and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn't allow me to retreat."

CNN interviewed Phillips on Saturday. A report on the interview posted on the CNN YouTube page opens with a reporter saying: "We are hearing from a Native American elder and Vietnam War veteran speaking to CNN after a disturbing viral video shows a group of teens harassing and mocking him in the nation's capital. Here's the video sparking outrage on social media right now."

The report then shows about 23 seconds of a video of Phillips beating his drum near the face of a teenage boy wearing a Make America Great Again hat. The boy briefly smiles and remains composed.

But there are longer videos of the event.

One, also posted on YouTube, is about an hour and 46 minutes long and chronicles activities at the Lincoln Memorial that day of a group The New York Times later reported were "African-American protesters, who identified themselves as Hebrew Israelites."

This video shows Phillips walking toward the group of students from the side of the Lincoln Memorial, beating the drum.

To his right, open stairs lead up to the memorial. But he does not take them.

He eventually walks right into the midst of the students.

"A fuller and more complicated picture emerged on Sunday of the videotaped encounter between a Native American man and a throng of high school boys wearing 'Make America Great Again' gear," The New York Times reported Sunday.

"Early video excerpts from the encounter obscured the larger context, inflaming outrage," it said.

The headline of piece the Post published Monday said, "Viral standoff between a tribal elder and a high schooler is more complicated than it first seemed."

"A group of about 100 Covington students had gathered on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial, where they had been told to meet before catching their buses home," the Post reported. "The Hebrew Israelites were also still there, and still insulting the students."

"You all are a bunch of Donald Trump incest babies," one of them shouted at the Covington kids, according to a video, the Post reported.

Nick Sandmann, the Covington junior whom Phillips confronted, offered the most eloquent explanation of the incident — and the one most consistent with the fuller video record.

"To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me," Sandmann said in a written statement. "We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers. I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation."

"I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand," Sandmann said.

"I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic," he said, "and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teachers me — to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence."

"I can tell you my experience with Covington Catholic is that students are respectful of all races and cultures," he said.

After reviewing the fuller video, ABC's George Stephanopoulos had to reverse the liberal media's outrageous missed call.

"This is such a cautionary tale, I have to say," Stephanopoulos said on Monday. "I saw that first image on Saturday morning, and it seemed absolutely outrageous. But it shows what you can do with editing footage, just single images."

"And it appears at least, that this young man was trying to do the right thing in some measure," said Stephanopoulos. "Maybe he didn't do it perfectly but trying."

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of CNSNews.com.

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