BuzzFeed senior culture writer Anne Helen Petersen targeted Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann, singling out the MAGA hat-wearing teen in a lengthy Twitter thread that compared his appearance to a young version of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
A large group of students from Covington who were in Washington D.C. for the March for Life became the center of controversy after a confrontation in front of the Lincoln Memorial between them and Native American elder Nathan Phillips. The situation initially caught fire among news outlets and social media, portraying the teenagers as the aggressors.
However, the testimony of other witnesses as well as new video offered more context to the exchange and showed Phillips approaching the group, leading many who condemned the students to offer apologies and retract their assertions. Petersen’s thoughts on the situation began when she shared a meme comparing Sandmann’s smirk to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, claiming that “white patriarchy” links the two of them.
“I will never know what it’s like to be around that face and its power as a Native person. But I know how many times I’ve seen that face in the classroom. There was always one of them in every class. The guy who whispered to his friends when I lectured. The guy who snickered when his classmates answered questions. The guy who tried to turn class discussions into jokes,” Petersen wrote. “Of Course, that guy was also the guy with the gumption to ask for extensions. To miss class and email asking “what’d I miss?” To plagiarize. To get a C come to office house and try to flirt his way to a better grade. The gall of his mediocrity never ceased to surprise me.”
She then claimed that Sandmann’s behavior is a “symptom” of the “current narrative of his victimhood.”
“I have watched all of the videos. You can understand that the situation was more complex than the first video and still recognize why the sight of that face caused a visceral reaction in so many. And I don’t think that being white or a man means you behave in a certain way. But it does allow you to behave in a certain way, if you chose, generally without consequences. In public, in the classroom, throughout your life. That’s privilege,” Petersen continued.
BuzzFeed did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Petersen faced plenty of criticism for her tweets.
BuzzFeed has been at the center of intense scrutiny since publishing the bombshell report that claimed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had evidence that President Donald Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a potential deal of a Trump Tower in Moscow, which was refuted by the office of the special counsel in a rare statement. BuzzFeed continues to stand by its report.