If you were lucky enough to get off the Internet for any extended period of time early last summer, you probably would have had no idea that cities across the country were being consumed by political violence on a scale unseen since the 1960s.
If, in May and June, you limited your media diet to the major newspapers, CNN and MSNBC, you would have been unaware that intense property damage and physical violence was being perpetrated by rioters each and every night in Kenosha, Wis., Portland, Ore., and just about every other major American city.
Extremist agitators, many of whom traveled from city to city looking for trouble, assaulted bystanders, destroyed businesses, and torched buildings. The only reason we know who was responsible and how they managed to run wild in formerly sleepy downtowns is because of journalists like the Daily Caller‘s Richie McGinnis, Shelby Talcott, and Jorge Ventura, and Townhall‘s Julio Rosas.
After New York Times reporters and cable news talking heads left the scenes of daytime protests, McGinnis, Talcott, Ventura, and Rosas stayed on the street to document the destruction that reliably followed.
McGinnis got so close to the action in Kenosha that he rendered first aid to the man whom Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot in the head outside of a car dealership. His interview with Rittenhouse, conducted before the violence broke out, was widely cited by major outlets, including the New York Times, which didn’t have personnel on the scene but used video taken by independent and conservative journalists to play catch up weeks later.
Now, a year later, The Intercept‘s Robert Mackey seems upset that the reporting done by The Daily Caller and Townhall is inconvenient to his political agenda. In a transparent attempt at the sort of guilt-by-association that activists posing as reporters just love, Mackey lumps Talcott and McGinnis in with fabulists who posted deceptively edited clips of rioting on social media to stir up outrage, labeling the lot of them “the riot squad.”
In an overwrought 25-minute video, Mackey accuses the so-called riot-squad of “misleading” their millions of online viewers by focusing exclusively on violence and destruction rather than placing the looting and beating “in context” — as a responsible journalist like Mackey would have done if he weren’t in bed.
Since he can’t accuse them of deceptively editing videos, Mackey complains that McGinnis and Co. didn’t devote equal time to the peaceful protesters because it didn’t fit their agenda. He points out that the majority of BLM protests were peaceful and casts the violence and destruction as a fringe activity, never mind that an estimated $1–2 billion in property damage was done across 20 states in a matter of a few weeks. The small town of Kenosha alone suffered $2 million in property damage.
The violence and property destruction was much more prevalent than Mackey suggests, but there’s also a simpler and more likely explanation for why the riot squad focused on the mayhem: They’re reporters, so they looked for a compelling story that wasn’t being covered.
Newspaper reporters and cable anchors captured the moms who showed up with their kids to advocate racial justice. Then, as soon as the sun went down, they retired to their expensed hotel rooms, presenting an opportunity for ambitious young journalists eager to document the largest conflagration of domestic American political violence in decades.
How can you tell that Talcott and McGinnis were just chasing the story and not simply acting in service of their nefarious right-wing commitments? Because, as Mackey shows in his video, they documented the Capitol riot, which made their supposed allies look . . . not great. But, Mackey points out, McGinnis was nice to those protesters, asking them questions in a casual tone — but that’s the same tone he uses in every video interview.
Having failed to show that McGinnis, Talcott, and Rosas did anything other than focus on a compelling and underreported story, Mackey proceeds to accuse McGinnis of hiding video evidence of the Rittenhouse shooting from authorities. So, what does a responsible journalist like Mackey cite as proof that McGinnis committed a felony by hiding evidence? The random musings of an unknown Twitter user with 75 followers — and remember, this is the guy giving tips on responsible journalism.
Of course the great irony in all of this is that McGinnis and Co. were performing the exact function that The Intercept was founded to perform, reporting the stories that are ignored — or distorted — by corporate media because they don’t fit the preferred narrative. Perhaps it’s forgivable that The Intercept, a leftist outlet, failed to devote resources to a story that might tarnish their allies, but it’s humiliating for one of their reporters to lash out at those who stepped up to cover an incredibly important story that they slept through.
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