After the election of a president it hates, the Washington Post adopted as a slogan “democracy dies in darkness.” But “darkness” isn’t a problem in our society. With the media explosion of the past few decades and the constant glare of the news cycle, the problem, if any, is confusion. The danger is being blinded by the lights.
But adopting the slogan “democracy dies in darkness” should carry with it a duty to shed light. The Post sheds none in this disgraceful story by Leah Sottile about events in Portland, Oregon yesterday. The headline (paper edition) reads: “Portland right-wing rally draw huge counterprotests.”
Note the Post’s use of the term “right-wing” in its headline to describe the rally. In a headline, it’s defensible to use short-hand to describe the rally. However, “pro-Trump” would have been a better choice, inasmuch as the rally was organized with the specific intent of supporting the president. If the Post wanted to insist on “right-wing,” the headline should have described the event as a “right-wing free speech rally,” as it did in the internet version of the story.
In the story itself, Sottile should have dropped the short-hand and named the group that organized the rally — Patriot Prayer. She didn’t do so until the very end of the article. By that time, she had repeated the term “right wing” four times. This isn’t just bias; it’s juvenile.
Sottile uses the term “left-wing” once to describe the counterprotesters. But when she does, she calls them them “left-wing, anti-fascist” protesters. As will become clear in a moment, there was nothing anti-fascist about the thugs in question.
But these are quibbles. The real problem is Sottile’s utter failure to describe what actually happened in Portland. She spends half of the article talking about events other than the rally — e.g., the stabbings of a week ago. Her obvious goal is somehow to tie the pro-Trump demonstrators to events like the stabbings, even though they had nothing to do with them.
When Sottile finally gets to the rally, she fails to report on the attack by the “left-wing, anti-fascists” on the Portland police. In her account, these good-natured folk merely “chanted, blared music, and held paper-mache spiders and skeletons.” In her account, the police responded by declaring their protest unlawful and “deploying a volley of flash grenades into the crowd of counterprotesters” (no mention here that they are left-wing).
In reality, the left-wing protesters attacked the police. Jazz Shaw at Hot Air provides a good account, based on the reporting of media outlets more honest than the Washington Post — e.g., CNN and AP, believe it or not — as well as the Portland Police’s twitter account (in real time).
At first, the “anti-fascists” exchanged insults with their antagonists. But then they started to throw glass bottles and bricks at the officers.
I happened to have CNN on at around this time. The CNN anchor asked the reporter which group of demonstrators had hurled bricks and bottles at the police. The question had to be asked, though it almost answers itself. The CNN reporter stated unequivocally that the bricks and bottles were thrown by the black clad “antifa” (anti-fascist) protesters, not the peaceful pro-Trump contingent.
According to the police, the initial incidents of rocks and bottle throwing at the original site of the protests were contained pretty quickly and most of the action moved to the Chapman Square location where the masked leftists were ready to mix it up. This resulted in the police making arrests and the confiscating weapons. The weapons included bags of bricks, chains, and razors.
(Shaw is careful to note that there was another group of anti-Trump protesters present, made up of immigrant rights, religious, and labor groups. They do not appear to have engaged in violence.)
The Washington Post managed to miss all of this. In its telling, the anti-fascists are last seen chanting, listening to music, and being attacked, apparently for no reason, by the police.
Democracy dies when mobs shut down free speech and violently resist the result of an election. That’s what the “anti-fascists” are trying to do. The Washington Post isn’t promoting democracy when it shrouds these efforts in darkness.