A new video produced by Vox correspondent Carlos Maza warns viewers not to fall for the “Antifa trap.” The trap, as Maza defines it, is believing that Antifa is really dangerous just because the media is focused on showing images of violence.
The setup here is clear from the outset: Blame the media (especially the right-wing media) for overreaching with regard to Antifa violence. And so this video must open with Sean Hannity attacking Antifa and must include clips of Tucker Carlson doing the same.
Maza claims Antifa is a “boogeyman” which is, “not causing that much havoc.” He then lists a series of recent protests and the number of arrests associated with each one to suggest the situation isn’t really so bad. “Antifa look scary, but they make up a tiny part of the protests they show up at,” Maza says.
Maza then introduces Doug McLeod, a journalism and mass communications professor who offers the novel idea that “Media coverage tends to gravitate toward dramatic video.” He adds, “So things like violence is prominently featured.”
So the Vox-splination for why Antifa is getting so much attention boils down to this: If it bleeds it leads. I guess if you’re 12 and have never heard a single thing about mass media ever, that will be news to you. For everyone else, this is so blindingly obvious as to probably not require an outside expert to establish the point.
Maza then makes a connection to previous protests including the WTO in Seattle, Occupy, and Black Lives Matter. Once again, Sean Hannity is brought in as an example of overreach because there is no story that makes the left look bad which can’t be transformed into a ‘Republicans pounce’ headline.
In addition to being obvious and partisan, I have two basic criticisms to offer of this video. Number one, it’s dishonest. Maza includes a few examples of recent protests and suggests things really aren’t so bad by comparing them to arrests at football games. He does not point out that the number of arrests may not match the violence that took place at a particular rally or riot.
For instance, last year Antifa/By Any Means Necessary protested a white nationalist gathering in Sacramento. That turned into a riot which resulted in more than a dozen people sent to the hospital with knife wounds. As I noted here, the California Highway Patrol spent months investigating and determined 68 felonies and 514 misdemeanors had been committed that day. Eventually, the police arrested just four people. Why so few? Because Antifa members were masked and refused to cooperate with police. An honest account of the threat presented by this group would at least mention some of this.
Problem two, the point Maza is making about the media focusing on violent outliers is always the case, especially when violence is random and unexpected. There were more victims of violent crime in Chicago last month than were killed in Las Vegas Sunday. Does that mean we shouldn’t be making such a big deal out of what happened in Vegas? And if so should someone tell Vox? Mass violence is always going to get a lot of media attention because it’s an unpredictable threat with the potential to disrupt not just individual lives but society as a whole. America is open and free and therefore vulnerable to people willing to use violence to get their way. We always need to keep an eye on those people, like terrorists and Antifa, who claim their violence is justified by the greater good.
Here’s the full clip.