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To the shock of no one, conservative pundits have found a villain after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville was drowned out by counter-protestors and members of antifa.
And it’s not the white supremacists.
The “Unite the Right 2” rally, held on the one-year anniversary of the same rally that resulted in the deaths of counter-protester Heather Heyer (who was struck by a speeding car allegedly driven by white supremacist James Alex Fields) and two Virginia police officers, was largely considered a flop.
Members of the white supremacist group were led by last year’s organizer, Jason Kessler, and were escorted by a phalanx of police and herded into private train cars to avoid confrontations with the considerably larger groups of counter-protesters.
As the day went on, video footage of the event began to circulate, some of which captured alleged members of antifa confronting members of the media. Most of these confrontations were captured by NBC News correspondent Cal Perry.
Perry later said on Twitter that “by design, last night’s Antifa-led protest/rally in Charlotesville got a bit rough and tumble.”
This wouldn’t do for conservative pundits like Charlie Kirk, who has long described Antifa as “thugs.”
The entire media covers 20 racist, loser, white supremacists in a failed effort to link them to Donald Trump - yet they completely ignore hundreds of ANTIFA thugs assaulting members of NBC News and targeting conservatives all across the country— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) August 13, 2018
Story says, "as Antifa attacks police officers in between chants of "Black Lives Matter" and "F**k the police." If these goons cared about black life, they'd be in Chicago forming citizen pstrols, walking the streets to stop the violence. They are afraid. https://t.co/qtYnZDhhiW— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) August 13, 2018
Why isn't the MSM talking about Antifa being in Charlottesville exhibiting the same hate and violence they spewed a year ago? Antifa is no different than the KKK. One wear white hoods; one wear black masks. Same script, different cast.— Diamond and Silk® (@DiamondandSilk) August 12, 2018
It’s worth breaking down Kirk’s statement here.
Kirk states that “hundreds” of Antifa “thugs” assaulted members of NBC News and “targeting” conservatives. In almost every video associated with this “Antifa attack,” the only confrontation happening is alleged Antifa members blocking or destroying camera equipment. The protester who shouted “Fuck you, snitch-ass news bitch” has no identifying markers on him, save for a white bandana. Antifa members are typically identified by all-black clothing, leaving the man’s allegiances uncertain.
NBC’s own Cal Perry has since declined to elaborate on the exchanges, referring other reporters to his tweets from the rally, but the fact that he has yet to outright condemn the actions speaks to how little they likely affected him or his job.
NPR reporter Tim Mak also briefly became the subject of focus from conservative pundits looking to criticize the Antifa movement. Mak was attending the D.C. counter-protest with a fellow NPR reporter when people from seemingly within the antifa crowd began throwing eggs and lighting several small fireworks into the air. Mak (and shortly after, conservative critics) described the fireworks as being fired at police, but the fireworks can be seen shooting straight up into the sky.
They violently attacked journalists and destroyed their equipment, and CNN still calls them “anti-hate,” all because they’re left-wing activists. https://t.co/rzDpvfd8rX— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) August 13, 2018
Mak later countered critics of counter-protesters by describing the rally as mostly peaceful.
“The vast, vast majority of counter-protestors were peaceful demonstrators opposing white supremacists,” Mak tweeted early Monday. A small group of Antifa were also present at a different site. Neither CNN nor other news networks are referring to Antifa when they characterize the counterprotesters broadly.”
The vast, vast majority of counterprotesters were peaceful demonstrators opposing white supremacists.— Tim Mak (@timkmak) August 13, 2018
A small group of Antifa were also present at a different site.
Neither CNN nor other news networks are referring to Antifa when they characterize the counterprotesters broadly https://t.co/a2yt1oOX1b
The narrative amongst conservative pundits has quickly grown into something along the lines of “NBC News won’t report on the attacks by Antifa because they’re all liberal media.”
This ignores the reporting by most media on the tense, yet generally peaceful counter-protests, as well as the inconclusive evidence of each video.
There was only one arrest and no injuries reported by the DC police chief, NPR’s Mak reported.
DC Police Chief says that there were no serious injuries as a result of the white nationalist protest/counterprotests— Tim Mak (@timkmak) August 13, 2018
Even Fox News’ own reporting is inconclusive. The network deemed it appropriate to share a video allegedly filmed at one of the rallies, wherein several people wearing black can be seen punching a man repeatedly. In Fox News’ own words, “it’s unclear where this took place.”
The video in question was shared by a far-right outlet called “The Blair Bitch Project.”
In the same article, Fox News writes that antifa members attacked an officer riding a motorcycle. The accompanying video shows nothing more than an unidentifiable, small plume of smoke from the middle of an otherwise peaceful crowd.
Since the rally, other reporters have lent their commentary on the various incidents.
What’s with all the pearl clutching over journalists being “attacked” by antifa? It’s annoying to get your camera swatted away, for sure, but “attack?” If I had a nickel for every time that happened at these rallies... Last year, Nazis pulled guns, threw sewage, and maced us!— Andy Campbell (@AndyBCampbell) August 12, 2018
Reading reports that Antifa protesters threw eggs at police, which is the worst violence we’ve seen at #UniteTheRight since...— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) August 13, 2018
... since a Nazi terrorist murdered a woman with his car last year.
CNN’s Brian Stelter and Jake Tapper had perhaps the strongest condemnation for antifa from any major news outlet besides Fox News.
“Unacceptable behavior by a protester in C’Ville last night — violently swatting away a journalist’s camera,” Stelter tweeted.
Unacceptable behavior by a protester in C'Ville last night -- violently swatting away a journalist's camera -- I asked @CalNBC for more info, and he deferred to his tweets, which described the protest as "almost exclusively Antifa at that point." https://t.co/BJ2t5HGceZ— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 12, 2018
Antifa has long been the focus of false flag operations by alt-right and conservative critics, who have been known to pose as antifa members while holding pro-pedophilia flags, in an effort to discredit the movement.
Above all else, the intimidation white supremacists felt during this year’s Unite the Right rally was incredibly visible. Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler claimed that the rally failed to achieve a larger attendance because supporters were “scared” after the deadly events of last year.
No white supremacists were killed last year, however, just Heather Heyer, among a litany of other violent incidents at the hands of white supremacists.
Joseph Knoop is a gaming writer for Daily Dot, a native Chicagoan, and a slave to all things Overwatch. He co-founded the college geek culture outlet ByteBSU, then interned at Game Informer, and now writes for a bunch websites his parents have never heard of.