Media Admit Riots Are Real, but Shift Blame to White Nationalists and Russians

Rioters make a barricade in Portland, Ore., August 23, 2020. (Terray Sylvester/Reuters)

Others have continued to argue it doesn’t exist or has been blown out of proportion.


fter months of daily unrest and violent crime surges in major American cities, some media figures finally felt compelled to ditch the “mostly peaceful” canard and discuss the violence — only to pin the blame on nebulous actors such as Russia and white supremacists.

Cities such as Portland, Ore., which has seen a spike in shootings and an unrelenting wave of arson and vandalism, and Kenosha, Wis., which suffered nearly $2 million in riot damage last week, have borne the consequences of daily protests transforming into nightly chaos. But rather than reporting on the groups and actors we know to be behind the surge in lawlessness, pundits are choosing to push their own recycled conspiracies.

Take MSNBC anchor Joy Reid, who warned — “without evidence,” as the pundit class has become so fond of saying — that the unrest was being “perpetrated” by Trump supporters and “white nationalist mobs.”

“The ‘riots’ are not Black Lives Matter marches gone wrong. Armed white nationalists are mobbing these cities to take advantage of protests and scare fellow white people into quietly siding with them. It’s an old, tried and true strategy: using fear & anti-blackness for politics,” Reid tweeted.

Reid’s diagnosis ignores that leftist agitators had been torching and vandalizing businesses and assaulting people at random for months in Portland before Trump supporters showed up in any significant number. She also has the cause and effect exactly backwards in the most recent instance of political violence, the one she was ostensibly referring to, in which a Trump supporter was shot and killed on Saturday by a suspect who has publicly declared his allegiance to Antifa and who has the balled fist of the Black Power movement tattooed on his neck.

Rather than accept and report on the fact that there is a growing contingent of black-bloc anarchists intent on tearing up American cities, CNN’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, went looking for a familiar — yet conveniently distant — culprit.

Bash asked Adam Schiff — the same Adam Schiff who breathlessly claimed for more than a year that he had seen “evidence” of Trump-Russia collusion, even after closed-door hearings found none — whether Russia “is trying to fuel some of the civil unrest.” The California congressman did not bat an eye: “We have to worry about their aggravating these tensions in our cities,” he stated. While Russia is undoubtedly trying to help along the self-destructive elements now ascendant on the American left, it isn’t Russian meme-makers who are burning down city blocks.

The obscurantism isn’t confined to talking heads and detached national politicians, either. In May, Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey blamed “white supremacists, members of organized crime, out-of-state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors” for the violence in his city, despite arrest records indicating his claims were baseless.

Many have pointed to Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who is charged with murder for killing two men in Kenosha, as a totem of white supremacy, and proof that President Trump is baiting his supporters into a “race war.” According to these analysts, Rittenhouse was the kind of white supremacist who kills white people hours after showing up to a demonstration with the express purpose of providing medical care to injured BLM protesters.

And for every Kyle Rittenhouse, there are dozens of far-left activists and provocateurs — many of whom have lengthy criminal records — who have been arrested for instigating chaos, as journalists such as Andy Ngo have meticulously catalogued. Even as the New York Times attempted to explain away the violence as the inevitable result of “right-wing activists . . . bent on countering the racial justice protests with an opposing vision of America,” it quoted a Portland activist “who helps organize security” for Black Lives Matter protests and carries a baton and a Taser.

The tactics the BLM enforcer discusses mirror those discussed on Telegram — an anonymous messaging app used to orchestrate protests — and anarchist websites such as CrimetheInc, which provides anonymous first-person accounts of riots, illustrating how many of the “protesters” actively seek conflict with police. Diagrams shared on far-left Telegram channels and reviewed by National Review instruct the woke how to construct “shield wall formations” and counsel them to consult “gear checklists,” which include weapons and defensive combat equipment, before heading out to the day’s “mostly peaceful” protest. The diagrams also include descriptions of various “protest roles” such as “range soldiers,” whose responsibility it is to throw projectiles at police, and “fire mages,” who set fire to objects and launch flaming projectiles.

“There is room for chanting and dancing and joyful noises and there is also room for rage. We make that space for each other,” one woman told the Times in July, before the alleged appearance of the lunatic white supremacists who have supposedly disrupted the formerly peaceful protests. “I don’t consider property destruction violence,” another added. “Violence is when you attack a person or another living, breathing creature on this planet. Windows don’t cry and they can’t die.”

Not content to attribute the recent wave of political violence to nefarious foreigners or white supremacists, some have continued to argue it doesn’t exist or has been blown out of proportion. Former FBI agent and current CNN correspondent Josh Campbell falls into the former camp, tweeting a picture of an idyllic Portland park during his lunch hour on Tuesday as proof that “the city is not under siege and buildings are not burning to the ground.” He made no mention of the situation the night before, which police declared a riot after activists broke windows and attempted to start a fire in a store on the ground floor of the condominium building of Democratic mayor Ted Wheeler.

Later in the day, Campbell conceded that “there is nightly violence,” only to argue that “neither local nor federal leaders seem to have a clue how to stop it.”

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