Extracts of both interviews courtesy NBC NEWS / NBC’S TODAY
The TODAY show has now posted both sides of the story regarding the incident at the Lincoln Memorial last Friday in which Native American veteran Nathan Phillips sang a drum song face to face with Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann.
The interviews fall on the tails of a social media explosion in which great divisions have arisen between supporters for the Covington Catholic High School teens and Nick Sandmann and supporters for Nathan Phillips.
On Wednesday, TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie spoke with Nick Sandmann in his first television interview since the incident in Washington D.C.
Sandmann told TODAY’S Guthrie, “As far as standing there, I had every right to do so … My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I'd like to talk to him,” he said during the interview. “I mean, in hindsight, I wish we could've walked away and avoided the whole thing. But I can't say that I'm sorry for listening to him and standing there.”
“In hindsight, I wish we had just found another spot to wait for our buses. But at the time, being positive seemed better than letting them slander us with all of these things," said Sandmann.
On Thursday morning, Savannah Guthrie then spoke with Nathan Phillips. In the interview on TODAY, Phillips said he was angry, but felt in better spirits after a prayer ceremony. He also said he wasn’t able to sit through the interview by Nick Sandmann and felt the interview had been coached.
Of the interview, Phillips remarked, "Insincerity, lack of responsibility. Those are the words I came up with," but that he had “woke up with this forgiving heart. I forgive him."
Phillips also stated he placed fault on the chaperones but "forgiveness even goes to those chaperones, those teachers." He also stated he had seen a video of ‘build that wall.’ Phillips also stated, “he had never stepped foot in South Vietnam.”
Social media has been critical of Savannah Guthrie and the TODAY show for hosting the interviews in both cases calling out Sandmann and Phillips in a negative way.
Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling