Mark Hemingway has a piece at RealClearInvestigations looking at the history of Antifa attacking journalists. He opens by discussing the recent attack on photographer Maranie Staab which I wrote about here (and here). In case you’ve forgotten, here’s what happened last month in Portland (2nd clip below).
Antifascists threatened to "smash cameras" of journalists, and targeted @MaranieRae personally.
She approached to speak to their group, and they shot paint and mace at her and threw her on the ground.
As she recovered, one shot more paint at both her and press helping her. pic.twitter.com/XKgDxvFc5D
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) August 23, 2021
That attack did generate some attention and condemnation but that made it somewhat unusual. Often Antifa’s violence seems to be covered without condemnation by journalists, some of whom (Chris Cuomo comes to mind) have actively defended the group in the past while pretending that violence and destruction just sometimes happen and aren’t the group’s foundational principles.
The media tends to be less willing to condemn Antifa’s violence against journalists if the journalists themselves aren’t left wing. So when Andy Ngo gets beaten and put in the hospital CNN is suddenly not sure who is responsible despite video of black bloc people punching him. And later, when there is graffiti in Portland calling for Ngo’s murder, the major media doesn’t mention it at all. Any time a crowd of Trump fans jeered at CNN it was considered newsworthy but if a group of violent anarchists who previously put a right-leaning reporter in the hospital now say they want him dead, it’s crickets.
CNN’s coverage of the Seattle autonomous zone was similarly skeptical of any criticism of the left-wing agitators responsible. “The sinister portrait of the situation in Seattle is part of a much larger account that has taken hold in right-wing media,” CNN’s Oliver Darcy wrote. But 11 days later, after multiple shootings in the police-free autonomous zone, the Mayor finally shut it down. It turns out the conditions were pretty sinister and somehow Darcy and CNN missed it until there was a body count. But getting back to Antifa’s attacks on the media:
Ngo isn’t alone in thinking that these attacks on the press are being downplayed. So does Nancy Rommelmann, who as a journalist has written for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and has been an author for decades…
She was attacked in the streets, she says, and threatened online, with her photo publicly posted. Rommelmann believes the traditional media are ignoring the street violence for political reasons – they don’t want antifa’s extremism to be seen as discrediting to liberal causes. “I can tell you that 100% of the people that have attacked and continue to attack me, they’re all on the left – all of them. And I consider myself a liberal,” Rommelmann said.
To the extent that traditional news media are forced to cover antifa, Rommelmann says, they do so only when its adherents clash with right-wing protesters, and draw equivalencies with right-wing violence regardless of whether comparisons are warranted. After the assault on Staab last month, Rommelmann began venting on Twitter about why the media refused to acknowledge that “black bloc protesters [those wearing black ski masks and other garments to obscure their identities] in Portland are the MAIN source of violence. Proud Boys and right-wing groups rolled through [just] four times in 2020. Then who tf was committing the violence every night?”
Hemingway goes on to say that the media’s apparent desire to defend leftist agitators and downplay leftist violence is how you wind up with the largest and most destructive protests in recent history (BLM protests/riots last summer) being portrayed as “fiery but mostly peaceful” by CNN.
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) August 27, 2020
Eventually some in the media did catch on but the reality of what was happening never quite overtook the conventional wisdom about what was happening. The left-wing politics of most reporters always seemed to lead them to shield Antifa, BLM and other violent left-wing agitators from as much criticism as possible. If some journalists got roughed up in the process, better not to focus attention on that.