Both NBC News and the BBC have put out videos offering fact-checks on some of President Trump’s claims about what took place in Charlottesville. Both agree there were violent anti-fascist protesters who came to the protest looking for a fight. First, here’s NBC’s report.
“Since the weekend, witnesses have told us that in fact, both sides were antagonizing for a fight,” NBC’s Tom Costello says. Later, the report shows a clip of Trump’s Tuesday press conference in which he said, “What about the alt-left? What about the fact that they came charging…with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs?” Costello’s narration continues, “In fact, that’s true. Witnesses tell NBC News there were people on both sides who seemed ready for a fight and some counter-protesters were armed with clubs, some with pepper spray.”
The BBC published a similar look at the violence in Charlottesville and what Trump said about it. BBC reporter Joel Gunter, who was there Saturday, said, “The President said that the violence on Saturday was perpetrated by both sides.” After playing a clip of Trump’s press conference, Gunter continued, “Trump is right. There was violence on both sides. I saw counter-protesters throw bottles, rocks and paint and clash with the white supremacists. Both sides sprayed pepper spray.”
Gunter goes on to say that the “majority” of counter-protesters were “locals” who “didn’t want racism on their streets.” In other words, while it’s true that there were violent counter-protesters, there were also many who weren’t the sort of hard core Antifa activists we’ve seen at many of these events. Some of the counter-protesters were just people who don’t like Nazis and white nationalists.
I’m pointing all of this out because there are many in the left-wing media still outraged that Trump suggested there was left-wing violence last weekend. But the truth is that there was, though it has to also be said that the left-wing violence didn’t include murder. The Nazi violence did.
While both of these clips back up a portion of what Trump said yesterday, they also criticize him for suggesting there were “very fine people” among the racist protesters. This seems fair to me. Trump could have said that in America even Nazis have a right to speak without being physically set upon. That would have been accurate. But that’s not the same as saying a torch-bearing, racist mob chanting anti-Semitic slogans contains some fine people. As the BBC’s Gunter says of the Tiki mob, “It’s hard to see how anyone on that march could be unaware of the clear racist overtones.”
Bottom line: There was violence on both sides as Trump suggested. Also, Nazis are not good people. In fact, they’re a disgrace to the greatest generation that fought to keep the world free of a horrible ideology. The BBC clip can’t be embedded but you can view the whole thing here.