Today’s Savannah Guthrie is facing a Twitter firestorm for having a sit-down interview with Nicholas Sandmann, the white, MAGA-hat-wearing teenager who was filmed smirking in the face of a Native American veteran during a rally in Washington, D.C.
On Twitter, Guthrie posted a picture with Sandmann and announced the interview. Sandmann, a junior at Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School, became a national story when he was seen standing in the face of Native American elder Nathan Phillips at an anti-abortion March for Life protest.
After the video went viral, Sandmann and his peers were accused of racism. Then reports alleged that Sandmann was not the aggressor, but the victim of the situation.
In a statement to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Sandmann claimed Black Hebrew Israelite protesters were verbally harassing him and his classmates. When they approached the group, elder Phillips allegedly approached the teens.
“[Phillips] locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face… I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers,” Sandmann stated. “I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping diffuse [sic] the situation… I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated, or provoked into a larger confrontation.”
Whether or not Sandmann’s statement is true, the video also shows his classmates mocking Phillips by repeating the Native American chant he was singing. They also surrounded Phillips while Sandmann stood in his face with a smirk many people found provocative.
What’s more, Sandmann told Guthrie that he doesn’t feel remorse for the situation and has not apologized for the incident.
“My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips,” Sandmann answers. “In hindsight, I wish we could’ve walked away and avoided the whole thing.”
After the incident, Sandmann reportedly hired a crisis P.R. firm and issued his own statement saying in part, “I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.”
Immediately after announcing the Sandmann interview, Guthrie’s mentions blew up in the worst way possible.