The Intercept released a video report touting lies about the violent riots that broke out over the summer of 2020 and targeting the conservative journalists who reported on them.
“By focusing on sensational, graphic images of violence on the margins of protests and entirely ignoring peaceful demonstrators, even members of the Riot Squad who are not as far right as Schaffer have contributed to a political project: the right-wing media’s campaign to portray racial justice protests as anarchic and dangerous,” Intercept claimed.
In the media outlet’s video, a narrator details how conservative reporters made up an informal “Riot Squad” that followed the violence, destruction, vandalism, and arson that occurred in cities all over the U.S. last year. While the riots, 95 percent of which are linked to Black Lives Matter activism, caused more than $2 billion in damages from May 26 to June 8, corporate media organizations, including The Intercept, hold fast to the idea that these “protests” were “mostly peaceful.”
“…the broader picture is that Black Lives Matter protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful,” the Intercept claimed without evidence.
Meet the Riot Squad: Right-Wing Reporters Whose Viral Videos Are Used to Smear BLM
Watch the full video: https://t.co/qt7OrLReZT
— The Intercept (@theintercept) May 13, 2021
Not only does The Intercept downplay the violence that destroyed businesses, cities, and ended in more than 47 riot-related fatalities, but also targets conservative reporters, many of whom were some of the only on-the-ground journalists in ravaged areas, for choosing to cover the destruction. Reporters Elijah Schaffer, Shelby Talcott, Julio Rosas, and Jorge Ventura are slandered as spurring on false narratives in exchange for appearances on Fox News and fueling online conspiracy theories.
These reporters’ choices to turn their cameras away from “peaceful marches” over “racist policing” to the dangerous and violent looting and rioting that occurred, The Intercept claims, is just meant to add fuel to the fire.
“The impact of their work is hard to overstate. Even as they remain relatively unknown, this tight-knit group has produced many of the most viral videos of Black Lives Matter protests over the past year. And those images have helped create the false impression, relentlessly driven home by Fox News and Republican politicians, that the nationwide wave of protests that erupted after George Floyd was killed was nothing but an excuse for mindless rioting,” The Intercept narrator said.
The Intercept also accused conservative journalists covering the riots of staking out in aggravated areas such as Portland to “record and exaggerate.”
“It was no accident that Rosas and Ventura chose to spend Inauguration Day this year in Portland. The liberal city’s strong anti-fascist protest culture, in a metro area surrounded by ultraconservative exurbs, has for years provided right-wing video journalists with a steady stream of skirmishes to record and exaggerate,” the narrator stated.
Reporters were faulted for their coverage of the shooting by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin and The Intercept even speculated that the Daily Caller’s Chief Video Director Richie McGinniss refused to release video of the shooting right away because he “decided to suppress or delete footage that could be used to convict the young right-wing vigilante.”
“That fueled speculation that McGinniss might have withheld incriminating visual evidence to shield Rittenhouse, who quickly became a hero to many of the Daily Caller’s far-right readers and was defended by the site’s founder, Tucker Carlson,” the narrator continued. “McGinniss, however, told The Intercept that while he thought he had recorded video of the shooting, he discovered later that he had accidentally hit the wrong button on his iPhone and it did not start recording until after the shots were fired.”
Even the one reporter in the so-called “Riot Squad” who does not work in conservative news faced scrutiny from Intercept for “attending at least 24 Trump rallies before the 2018 midterms and describing them as ‘exhilarating’ on his video blog.” And despite almost all of the reporters’ coverage of the Capitol riot and “pro-Trump thugs,” The Intercept still blamed the journalists because “all this video evidence of right-wing violence was not used to vilify the rioters the way that clips of far less significant events at left-wing protests were last summer.”
The Intercept concluded by scolding Scriberr field reporter Kalen D’Almeida and other reporters for “contributing to an atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust, making assaults on journalists more frequent.”
“Violence against journalists, even ones operating in bad faith, is inexcusable. Unfortunately, videographers like D’Almeida have contributed to an atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust, making assaults on journalists more frequent. And this has also made the work of scrupulous and fair reporting on the politics that plays out on our streets much harder, and more dangerous,” The Intercept concluded.
The narrator ends the video with a propagandist statement lamenting the fact that attention on the riots has taken away from criticizing law enforcement.
“It’s been a year since the horrifying cellphone video of George Floyd’s murder drove millions of Americans to the streets to demand justice,” he said. “But it’s important to keep in mind that the conservative media has been working almost nonstop to undercut the movement for black lives by spreading the lie that the nation’s main problem is the protesters, not the police.”
Some journalists targeted by The Intercept report responded to the outlet’s attacks on Twitter.
As someone who nearly died as a result of being beaten on the head for my video coverage of riots, I cannot overstate how much more you’re endangering these reporters in your hit piece. @spj_tweets & @pressfreedom need to condemn this anti-press freedom propaganda.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) May 13, 2021
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) May 13, 2021
In this piece, @RobertMackey (who I spoke to for over an hour) describes my professional background but *fails to include the fact that I worked at NBC News for LONGER than LevinTV, even though I told him this and the info is available for all to see on my LinkedIn: https://t.co/wzTXkm603J pic.twitter.com/weghZE2wlt
— Richie🎥McG🍿 (@RichieMcGinniss) May 13, 2021