“Damage That Can’t Be Undone”: Patricia Heaton Slams Journalists Who Hurried Covington Catholic High School Story

patricia heaton

Actress Patricia Heaton, most recognizable for her role as Debra on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” is speaking her mind about the journalists who inaccurately portrayed an interaction between students from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky and a Native American veteran this weekend.

The initial viral video showed students wearing “Make America Great Again” hats having what appeared to be a standoff with Native American demonstrator Nathan Phillips as he played the drums during the Indigenous Peoples March. The group of students was attending the March for Life rally held on the same day.

Student Nick Sandmann was the focal point of the video as he stood inches away from Phillips, smirking in silence. Initial reports flooding the Internet and social media took the situation out of context, saying that the students were disrespectfully confronting Phillips and chanting “build that wall.”

Two-hour long footage later revealed that the students were never chanting “build that wall” and that Phillips was the one who approached the group of kids, not the other way around.

The real issue appeared to start much earlier between the white high school students and protesters from the Black Hebrew Israelite movement.

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The radical protesters were reportedly harassing the students with bigoted, racist and homophobic comments. In an interview with CBS News, Phillips said that the Black Hebrew Israelites were also yelling “Jesus isn’t white, he’s black”, which appeared to upset the high schoolers.

“I believed… I was helping to diffuse the situation,” Sandmann said of the encounter with Phillips.

Phillips later confirmed that the media outlets, in fact, did not capture the whole story and that he holds no ill-will toward Sandmann or the other students, who are now facing major disciplinary action. Rather, he believes their chaperones should be held responsible for not taking action when things got out of hand.

Since the media’s mischaracterization of his actions, Sandmann says he and his family have been the target of death threats and hateful insults.

While many journalists have taken down or retracted their posts since the additional news surfaced, Heaton holds that their apologies are simply not enough.

The actress took to Twitter to express her disdain over the actions of the careless journalists who have put these young kids’ futures in danger, while they remain unscathed at their same jobs without consequence.

“These apologies are welcome and necessary, but they don’t address the damage that cannot be undone which was inflicted upon young people who are about to embark on adulthood – applying to colleges, looking for employment, etc,” wrote Heaton.

“Some kind of compensatory action would go a long way in signaling their recognition of the seriousness of their transgression and help to restore what’s left of the public’s very fragile trust in their reputations as trustworthy journalists,” she continued.

Thousands have rallied around Heaton’s stance in agreement that these reckless reporters should be held responsible for their actions, though few, including the actress herself, are confident anything will actually be done.

“However, I don’t believe this will happen,” she commented.

What’s your perspective on the portrayal of the Covington Catholic High School students in the media? Do the news outlets and journalists who inaccurately represented them deserve to face disciplinary action? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Kelsey Straeter
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Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.