PHILADELPHIA (CN) — “Trump’s Mini-Mes,” the Newsweek headline blared. Now one of the 12-year-old conservatives profiled in the article wants punitive damages.
Represented by the Beasley Firm’s Dion Rassias, Colin McCafferty filed the Feb. 21 suit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Though the Philadelphia native has since privatized his online accounts, McCafferty rose to prominence in 2015 with a series of YouTube videos endorsing Donald Trump for president.
After he Skyped in to The Alex Jones Channel for an October 2017 interview about the problems with what he called “the liberal media,” Newsweek tapped a journalism and sociology professor to dissect an apparent trend.
“These kids are being weaponized," Columbia University’s Todd Gitlin told Newsweek, saying young spokespeople give the so-called alt-right “camouflage” for untenable positions on race and sexual abuse.
Including a copy of the print version of the article as an exhibit to his complaint, McCafferty says the only exploitation going on was done by Newsweek.
“It is Newsweek itself that is disgracefully ‘weaponizing’ children, as the reckless article brands and punishes a child simply because he chooses to exercise a First Amendment right to be conservative,” the complaint states.
Rather than accept the idea that a child could establish a conservative ideology at a young age, McCafferty says Newsweek told its readers that “that the child must have been ‘weaponized,” manipulated and brainwashed by someone, beginning with his or her parents and ending with an alt-right promise of being a celebrity.”
“Newsweek’s motivation for such substandard journalism must be its declining and anemic sales and online hits,” the complaint states.
McCafferty calls it outrageous to forever link his name “to a scheme designed to defend racism and/or sexual abuse.”
“No reasonable journalist or editor would ever have permitted such a reckless and malicious publication,” the complaint states.
Making matters worse, McCafferty says Newsweek attached his picture to the article and never bothered to contact him or his parents for comment.
McCafferty blacked out his picture and his name in the court exhibit, and the picture is not included on the current online version of the article.
The headline and subhead are also different in the online and print versions of the article, removing a reference to the alt-right’s “weird little army.”
Instead of “Trump’s Mini-Mes,” the online headline says “Trump’s Child Crusaders.” The article ran online on Dec. 13 and in the Jan. 12 print issue.
Newsweek is the only defendant to the complaint. Representatives for the publication have not returned a voicemail seeking comment.
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