On Tuesday, The New York Times published a heinously misleading report suggesting that dangerous “right-wing activists” have suddenly introduced violence into the “protests” in cities like Portland and Kenosha, Wisc. While the article — posing as straight-reporting, not opinion — did reference “unrest” and “looting” sporadically, it painted the antifa agitators who have attempted to burn down buildings with people inside as “protesters” who suddenly face danger thanks to the invasion of conservatives with guns.
“As right-wing groups increasingly move to confront unrest in cities, demonstrators are taking drastic steps in assessing how to keep themselves safe,” The Times‘ subhead summarizes. The article begins by quoting Reese Monson, who organizes “security for the hundreds of protesters” in Portland. Monson reportedly advised the protesters — who have covered for and perpetrated dangerous and violent riots — “to use shields made of plywood, pool noodles and 55-gallon drums,” which the article describes as “tools to deflect the riot-control measures used by police.”
Whitewashing the riots
The article does not explain why such “tools” might be necessary. Antifa rioters have outfitted themselves in armor, gas masks, and helmets while carrying shields in their violent attacks on police. They have aimed lasers into the eyes of police in order to blind them, set off commercial-grade fireworks at police, and set fire to police precincts and the federal courthouse. Yet The Times appears to consider these violent attacks a kind of protest and “demonstration.”
“Now, Mr. Monson said they were considering a new kind of shield when they go out to demonstrate against racial injustice: bulletproof vests,” The Times adds.
Rather than acknowledging the destructive and deadly violence the rioters have perpetrated night after night, the article attempts to throw the violence down the memory-hole.
For months, as protests by Black Lives Matter and other groups have erupted across the country, the persistent confrontations have been largely between protesters and the police, with the conflict playing out in tear gas volleys and lobbed projectiles. But in recent days the protests in Portland and in Kenosha, Wis., have taken a more perilous turn — right-wing activists have arrived, bent on countering the racial justice protests with an opposing vision of America.
Note how this paragraph unfolds: it suggests the “protests” have not been dangerous or violent, while mentioning “tear gas volleys” first in order to paint the police as the aggressors. It even pained the rioters in an extremely positive light, calling their violence “racial justice protests.” Then it attributes a “more perilous turn” to the arrival of “right-wing activists” who have “an opposing vision of America.”
What, exactly, is that “opposing vision?” In a phrase, it is “law and order.” While rioters have defended their actions as a form of revolution, excusing looting and destruction as effectively harmless forms of bringing about “justice,” these nefarious “right-wing activists say they are protecting private property, protesting city officials’ failure to contain demonstrations, and offering support to the police.”
Oh, horrors! They believe in private property, oppose looting and arson, and want the police to restore order.
Citing the SPLC
The Times wouldn’t let that accurate description of the conservatives’ motives stand, however. The article immediately goes on to cite Cassie Miller, a researcher with the far-left scandal-plagued smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
“The far right is now anointing themselves the only force standing between order and chaos, a dangerous step toward normalizing the political violence that they already hold a monopoly on,” Miller said.
The Times does not mention that the SPLC fired its co-founder last year amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal, nor that it faces multiple defamation lawsuits (and settled one recently) involving its “hate group” and “extremist” accusations against mainstream conservative and Christian groups. Instead, The Times let Miller’s extreme statement stand, even though a politically-motivated shooter, inspired by the SPLC’s “hate group” accusation, targeted the Christian non-profit the Family Research Council for a mass murder in 2012.
Yes, The Times let Miller claim the “far right” has a “monopoly” on political violence less than a decade after her own far-left organization’s accusations inspired an attempted terrorist attack. The Times let her claim stand, despite the fact that a crazed shooter (who “liked” the SPLC on Facebook) tried to murder Republicans at a congressional baseball practice in 2017.
The “far right” certainly does not hold a “monopoly” on political violence — and the antifa and Black Lives Matter rioting and looting proves that in spades.
Yet even the recent shootings in Portland and Kenosha do not support The Times‘ framing. While 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse should not have gone to Kenosha and it seems it was illegal for him to be armed on the street as a minor, it also seems he fired in self-defense after he gave medical assistance to rioters and after someone else opened fire first.
The shooting in Portland came after a caravan of Trump supporters drove through the city, and the victim took part in that caravan. However, it seems an antifa rioter targeted the victim for his political affiliation and opened fire without provocation.
Americans should lament these horrific shootings, but it is patently absurd to lay all the blame at the feet of the Trump supporters.
Covering for Ted Wheeler
Yet the Times article also twists the truth out of proportion in referencing recent news regarding Mayor Ted Wheeler (D-Portland). Trump has repeatedly offered to send in the National Guard to help restore order in Portland, and Wheeler has repeatedly refused him. Most recently, Wheeler accused Trump of inspiring the riots and the shooting of a Trump supporter.
Yet The Times framed Wheeler’s actions this way:
Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, has called for calm and issued a plea to the president to work together in order to de-escalate tensions. But even as Mr. Wheeler made the request at a news conference, Mr. Trump was firing back on Twitter, calling the mayor a “dummy” and suggesting that the federal government may send forces into the city.
Wheeler, like Democratic nominee Joe Biden and so many others, has repeatedly covered for violent antifa rioters by branding them “peaceful protesters.” In one horrific and Orwellian example, Wheeler joined a violent riot in which rioters set off explosives at the federal courthouse. Federal law enforcement responded to this attack with tear gas. Wheeler condemned the federal officers, claiming that the tear gas was completely unprovoked, even though the explosive went off right behind him.
In this article, The New York Times engaged in exactly the same kind of Orwellian gas-lighting as Wheeler did. After months of violent riots perpetrated by antifa and Black Lives Matter agitators, The Times suggested that the sudden emergence of “right-wing activists” introduced violence into the situation. It covered for Democrats who accuse Trump of causing the riots, and it repeated the absurd claim that the “far right” has a “monopoly” on political violence.
Perhaps worse, it presented all this as straight reporting from a team of journalists: “Mike Baker reported from Portland, Julie Bosman from Kenosha, Wis., and Richard A. Oppel Jr. from New York. Neil MacFarquhar contributed reporting from New York.”
All this earned the article a well-deserved spot on “Not the Bee,” Adam Ford’s new website sharing outlandish stories that should be satirical (thus for The Babylon Bee) but, sadly, are not. “New York Times concerned about the safety of the rioters,” ran Not the Bee’s headline. That about sums it up.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.