As The Daily Wire reported Tuesday, NBC’s decision to give viewers the chance to hear from Nicholas Sandmann — the high school junior at the center of a series of libelous accusations and reports about an encounter between students from Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School and a Native American activist — prompted outrage from those who continue to portray the boys as cruel harassers, despite video evidence debunking that unfair characterization of events.
NBC has now released the full interview (below), which includes Sandmann defending his right to be there and underscoring that he was not disrespectful to the activist Nathan Phillips, who approached him, at times getting inches from his face, and later described the boys as “beasts.”
Soon after the 3:45 carefully clipped video of the encounter between the students and Phillips went viral on Saturday, two hours of footage surfaced showing that Phillips’ description of the event and most of the early reporting by mainstream media outlets was false. Rather than being the harassers, the boys were harassed by radical racial activist group Black Hebrew Israelites, which has been designated a “hate group” by the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, who hurled racist and homophobic insults at the students. After hysterical critics called for the doxxing of the boys, some even encouraging violence against them, Sandmann issued a lengthy account of the incident that aligns far more with the full video footage than Phillips’ widely reported account.
In his interview with “TODAY” co-host Savannah Guthrie, Sandmann made a point of saying that he respects Phillips and hopes to speak with him in person. While Sandmann defended his right to be there and his decision to remain calm in order to “defuse” the situation, as he said in his statement, he also said, “In hindsight, I wish we could’ve walked away and avoided the whole thing.”
“Do you feel from this experience that you owe anybody an apology?” asked Guthrie. “Do you see your own fault in any way?”
“As far as standing there, I had every right to do so,” Sandmann replied. “My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips — I respect him, I’d like to talk to him. In hindsight, I wish we could have walked away and avoided the whole thing, but I can’t say that I’m sorry for listening to him and standing there.”
After the hostile campaign against him and his fellow classmates, which escalated to the point that school officials felt it necessary to cancel school on Tuesday, it’s not suprising that Sandmann wishes the whole thing had never happened. Watch the interview below via “TODAY”:
In his initial statements to the press, Phillips described the boys as “beasts” and said he believed he had inserted himself between them and their “prey,” by whom he meant the BHI members that had called them “f*ggots” and “crackers” and told them to “go back to Europe.” Phillips initially rejected an offer to speak with the boys, saying, “At first, I wanted the teachers and chaperones to be reprimanded — some fired — for letting this happen. For the students, I was against any expulsions, but now I have to revisit that.” But amid mounting backlash, Phillips has reversed himself, issuing a statement in which he makes clear that he beleives Sandmann should “apologize” and accused him of lying:
I have read the statement from Nick Sandmann, the student who stared at me for a long time. He did not apologize, and I believe there are intentional falsehoods in his testimony. But I have faith that human beings can use a moment like this to find a way to gain understanding from one another.
After he approached the boys and became the central figure in the viral video, Phillips reportedly helped lead his activist group to crash the Saturday Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
NBC’s announcement Tuesday that they interviewed Sandmann was met with outrage online. Some examples highlighted by Daily Wire’s Josh Hammer which include comparing the high school boy to Hitler and racist mass murder Dylann Roof: