Dude. Look behind you. For those who might have been disappointed in a lack of dunking on CNN for the ridiculous arrest of its crew this morning, here’s my version of atonement. MSNBC’s Ali Velshi tried his best Chip Diller impersonation while covering the riots in the Twin Cities last night. As a liquor store burned behind him, with the 3rd Precinct overrun and torched nearby, Velshi insisted that the “protest” was “not generally speaking unruly.”
All is well! All is well!
MSNBC reporter just now: "I want to be clear on how I characterize this. This is mostly a protest. It is not generally speaking unruly."
The guy is literally standing in front of a burning building in the middle of a riot. pic.twitter.com/IzCV6On4sF
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) May 29, 2020
Note the chryon underneath Velshi’s reporting too, which notes that the police station was burning while he “reported” from the scene. It’s not as if Velshi didn’t see that fire … or three more nearby, either:
“For most of the day, today, it looked a lot calmer than yesterday looked,” Velshi began after showing his colleague Brian Williams some of the destruction that took place. “And that’s what happened yesterday. It picked up later in the evening. The crowds gathered here and the standoff with the police looked very different last night.”
Velshi then acknowledged that he could see “four fires” within his vicinity, including a liquor store that was burning behind him as well as the 3rd Precinct police department, which was earlier evacuated before the crowd set it on fire.
“I want to be clear on how I characterize this. This is mostly a protest. It is not, generally speaking, unruly but fires have been started and this crowd is relishing that,” Velshi told Williams. “There is a deep sense of grievance and complaint here, and that is the thing. That when you discount people who are doing things to public property that they shouldn’t be doing, it does have to be understood that this city has got, for the last several years, an issue with police, and it’s got a real sense of the deep sense of grievance of inequality.”
So, let’s say one arson in a protest is not a sign of “unruly.” Debatable, but YMMV. Two fires — sounds a bit unruly, no? By the time we get to four fires in the visible vicinity, we’re no longer talking about a peaceful protest, but a riot.
That, however, is the problem. Velshi has limits on what he can report, and according to NBC Today anchor Craig Melvin, no one’s allowed to use the R word — even when its application is painfully obvious:
This will guide our reporting in MN. “While the situation on the ground in Minneapolis is fluid, and there has been violence, it is most accurate at this time to describe what is happening there as "protests"–not riots.”
— Craig Melvin (@craigmelvin) May 28, 2020
Thus we have Velshi standing in the middle of a city on fire and “reporting” that it’s not “generally unruly.” It’s utter nonsense, especially when the police are abandoning their own barracks to the mob and watching it go up in flames. MSNBC and NBC didn’t start off the day with much credibility, and whatever was left just went up in flames behind Velshi last night.