Yesterday Ed Morrissey posted an article at Hot Air about the latest chapter in the saga of Nick Sandmann and the settlements reached with CNN and The Washington Post.
The article notes:
The first rule of Settlement Club is that you don’t talk about Settlement Club. And the second rule of Settlement Club — ah, heck, the first fifty rules of Settlement Club is that you don’t talk about settlements in lawsuits with mutual gag rules in place. Apparently that didn’t sink in at CNN or the Washington Post after both media outlets decided to quietly end the litigation brought by Nicholas Sandmann. Their employees went on social media attempting to spin the settlement and suggest that Sandmann only got a minimal payment to shut him up.
Big mistake, Sandmann attorney Lin Wood made clear almost immediately. “I know how to deal with liars,” Wood tweeted, and warned that new lawsuits would be filed unless “heads rolled” at both outlets:
…This started with speculation that Sandmann had indeed gotten paid nothing more than “nuisance value.” Law & Crime wrote a pretty comprehensive overview of the social-media discussion of that premise after some attorneys unconnected to the case tried to read the tea leaves from various announcements in both cases. It’s worth reading, at least for the legal theories behind the speculation. That included a rather anodyne statement from Wood expressing his opinion that the speculation was “uninformed, errant nonsense,” but added that “questions about confidentiality and the timing of the settlement will have to be directed to others.” Wood didn’t threaten anyone over the speculation — because they were not party to the confidentiality agreement, and neither was Law & Crime.
That isn’t the case with Stelter, Rangappa, and Zak. They work for the respondents in these lawsuits and act as their agents. As soon as they published and expanded on the speculation, they characterized the settlement in terms their employer specifically agreed not to do. Not only does that open up new avenues for Sandmann against the Post and CNN, it might allow Wood to add the three as respondents in a new libel/defamation action.
This may seem like a minor thing, but it is important that both parties act in accordance with the agreement they signed. I can understand why CNN and The Washington Post would want people to think that the settlement was small–they want to discourage future lawsuits. I can understand why Lin Wood would want to give the impression of a large settlement–it might discourage future character assassination of innocent people by the media.
Stay tuned. There may be more coming.