From The Intercept, the website Glenn Greenwald co-founded but recently quit:
In the year since George Floyd’s murder, conservative news outlets have endlessly hyped distorted stories about violence at Black Lives Matter protests. Key videos they used come from a tight-knit group of eight young journalists.
May 13 2021, 8:38 a.m.
Written by Robert Mackey. Video by Robert Mackey and Travis Mannon.
… Over the past year, as I researched viral clips of contested incidents at protests against racist policing and far-right movements, I found that I was coming across the names of the same handful of videographers again and again. At protests in Minneapolis, Dallas, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Louisville, Philadelphia, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, I discovered that many of the most viral clips were shot by a handful of field reporters for right-wing sites or freelancers with conservative politics.
Rosas and Ventura are not household names, but it’s important to understand their reporting, because they are members of an informal club of right-wing video journalists who roam from city to city, feeding the conservative media’s hunger for images of destruction and violence on the margins of left-wing protests.
In contrast, the well-paid journalists from the prestige press all went home long before the violence started every night. Why? Because the looting, arson, and fights were after their bedtimes. Also, nobody they knew wanted to see evidence that BLM and Antifa enthusiasts were running amok across the country in hundreds of riots. That was not part of the Narrative.
How dare eight nobodies violate the Narrative by reporting facts?
In the year since George Floyd’s murder by Derek Chauvin was documented in horrifying detail on the cellphone of a 17-year-old witness, Darnella Frazier, right-wing news outlets and politicians have been desperate to draw attention away from those unbearable images by focusing instead on viral videos of unrest at racial justice protests. That’s been a boon for the careers of conservative video journalists like Rosas, Ventura, and a half-dozen of their friends, who jokingly call themselves the #RiotSquad in Instagram selfies and podcast banter.
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. …
That’s not to say that rioting never happens; it clearly does. And even if you believe that “a riot is the language of the unheard,” it is undeniable that looting and arson did scar some communities where anger over racist policing spiraled out of control.
But the broader picture is that Black Lives Matter protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful.
Conservatives like to mock anyone who says that, usually by pointing to isolated images of chaos, like those recorded by the Riot Squad, or by cherry-picking misleading data. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, recently cited data showing that more than 500 racial justice protests turned violent in the United States last year. But Johnson failed to let readers of his Wall Street Journal opinion piece know that the same researchers — from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project
Which I covered here.
— counted nearly 10,000 more Black Lives Matter protests that were entirely peaceful. According to the researchers, there was no looting, arson, or violence of any kind at 94 percent of the protests associated with Black Lives Matter. And in many cases in which there was violence, it was inflicted on protesters, either by the police or right-wing vigilantes.
In contrast, out of the thousands of pro-Trump rallies in 2020–21, one turned out to be a farcical dust-up, which we will never ever let you forget for one minute.