Matt Taibbi: This Antifa attack on a reporter deserves more attention

Monday I wrote about the series of brawls that broke out in Portland over the weekend between the Proud Boys and Antifa. There were several incidents of violence that day involving people on both sides but one that caught my attention involved a group of Antifa tough-guys in black bloc. One called a woman reporter a “slut,” someone threw her to the ground, broke her camera and her phone and then sprayed her in the face with pepper spray.

Today, Matt Taibbi has written a piece about the incident headlined “Enough is Enough: Antifa Attacks Reporter in Portland.” After going through what happened to reporter Maranie Staab, Taibbi simply points out that Antifa makes a habit of attacking reporters even though they have no expectation of privacy on a public street in the middle of the day.

Yes, putting masks on prevents you from being identified, but it doesn’t confer the right of invisibility. Also, if you show up at a publicly-announced protest in a public place in broad daylight dressed like GWAR roadies or extras to a Terry Gilliam movie and start smashing things, one really has to wonder about the sincerity of your commitment to anonymity. Someone is going to film you, whether it’s the right-wing counter-protesters on the other side or the police, and in the case of the press, it’s actually their job to do it in a responsible way. You have a right to wear a mask, they have both the right and the obligation to film you, that’s how this works.

Nonetheless, antifascist protesters have taken their absurd demands of non-coverage quite far in the past, making lists of protester-approved media and going after reporters and videographers from papers like local CBS and ABC affiliates as well as the Washington Post, NPR, the Toronto Sun, and othersTheir rationale is that filming hurts their cause by making them vulnerable either to arrest or doxing, a dubious concept one could argue on multiple levels, but again, that’s what masks are for. Moreover — and I know this can be a hard concept — cameras generally help public protests, with the exception being when activists behave stupidly or unattractively in public. If you don’t do things like knock female reporters to the ground, you’re probably not going to end up dealing with negative press.

He concludes by saying, “Too many news outlets have respected the desire of such protesters to remain invisible when they behave atrociously, and this is one of those cases.”

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, it’s not just openly left-wing reporters who avoid filming Antifa when they are destroying things. As I’ve noted before, even reporters for supposedly mainstream publications somehow never get shots of the faces of people setting fires or destroying public property. That could be because they are afraid they’ll be treated like Maranie Staab if they try but ultimately it is their job to try, not to shield the people doing the damage from consequences for their actions.

No one has been arrested for the assault on this reporter. There was a similar assault against a street preacher who was pepper sprayed and threatened on camera. No one has been arrested for that assault either. There was also a shootout in the street in Portland the same day. A man who appears to have been part of the right-wing group fired one shot. Someone on the other side of the street fired seven shots in return. No one was hit apparently but the guy who fired the first shot was quickly arrested (and rightly so). The person who fired back at him has not been arrested or identified because Antifa collected the shell casings before police got there.

The bottom line is this: Antifa continues to commit violence in the streets because they are never held accountable when they do. Until that changes, you can expect the violence will continue.

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on December 01, 2022