A Los Angeles-based attorney who stepped up to offer his legal services for free to Covington Catholic High students he says were slandered by journalists and entertainers have been given 48 hours to retract their comments or face lawsuits.
“Everybody now is on 48-hour notice so by Friday, everybody needs to retract and correct any false statements they have issued about these kids,” lawyer Robert Barnes told on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.”
“That includes any major member of the media. That includes any major celebrity. That includes anybody with a substantial social media platform,” he noted further.
Barnes stepped up and offered to represent the teens following a media-generated controversy in which the Covington teens were accused of accosting and harassing a Native American activist, Nathan Phillips, in Washington, D.C., Saturday following an annual March for Life event.
Video of the incident showed Phillips standing face to face with student Nick Sandmann, who was wearing a MAGA hat, as the activist banged on a ceremonial drum. The media mistook the confrontation as being initiated by the teens but in reality, subsequent videos and eyewitnesses showed that it was Phillips who confronted them.
Barnes told Fox News that, unlike falsehoods that are aimed at public figures like politicians, the standard to successfully prove libel in court is negligence instead of malice — and the students were in D.C. to attend a pro-Life event.
“Because these are all private citizens and in many cases minors and kids, the law is saying anything false about them is libel,” he explained. “You don’t have a defense of actual malice. All you have to prove is negligence.
“So a lot of these journalists that have been saying false statements about these kids, false statements about the kids at the Lincoln Memorial,” he continued.
“Slurring and libeling the entire school and all the alumni for the school, and all you have to do is prove negligence, and by this standpoint, by this point in time, it is clear the anyone who continues to lie about these kids has done so illegally and can be sued for it,” he added.
Fox News showed pictures of journalists and celebrities who, so far, have retracted their early statements condemning the kids. They include CNN’s S.E. Cupp and Jake Tapper, “The View’s” Meghan McCain, National Review editor-in-chief Rich Lowry, and actress Jamie Lee Curtis.
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