A protester confronts riot gear-clad police on the campus of the University of Virginia during a rally to mark the anniversary of last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Last month I stumbled upon a Twitter thread by a man named Eoin Lenihan who analyzed the Twitter connections between Antifa members and found journalists with a multitude of connections to them. As many people did, I found this interesting and posted about it.
You can read the article here: “Journos From Prominent News Publications Found To Have Working Relationships With Antifa.”
This, however, really set off journalists on the left who immediately took defensive positions and not only attempted to trash Lenihan but also the publications who featured his work, including hints at legal threats. Soon, Lenihan found himself suspended from Twitter for reasons nobody was sure of.
I thought the matter was dropped, but it would appear that wound for the left is still pretty raw. The Columbia Journalism Review dropped an article on Wednesday that talked about how “fringe” right-leaning outlets like RedState picked up the thread despite the fact that the study was not peer-reviewed, dissected, etc.
“But for conservative media, the endorsement of peers within its narrow confines is all the expertise necessary for publication,” said CJR writer Jared Holt.
Lenihan outlined his methodology in his Twitter thread and passed off certain details to journalists. I was not one of them, but that’s okay, because what I saw in Lenihan’s then live twitter thread was interesting enough to report on. In my own article, I don’t pass judgment on whether or not Lenihan’s findings are accurate to the letter.
In fact, the only commentary I make is a line at the end of the article in which I say the information is shocking, but not surprising.
That’s all the defense I’ll give myself because I don’t feel like I need to offer much more than that. I saw an interesting news item and posted about it. I acted as the messenger, not the message writer.
More interesting to me, however, is the fact that CJR does a lot to try to discredit the findings, but doesn’t at all refute them.
Instead, they tell us things like the fact that Lenihan is a right-wing troll who has been suspended by Twitter. I get called “right-wing troll” a lot. In fact, it’s a common accusation. Simply being called something by leftists doesn’t make you guilty of being that thing. The recent dustup with Steven Crowder is solid proof of that.
Furthermore, a lot of right-wing people get suspended from Twitter who don’t deserve it. In fact, it’s become a huge point of contention, just in case the folks at CJR weren’t aware.
Holt also tries to discredit the study by saying Quillette’s report on the matter by Antifa documentarian Andy Ngo had his article “circulated approvingly on white supremacist forum Stormfront,” then noted that the following day a YouTube video went up featuring the journalists mentioned in the report intercut with images of mass shooters.
I think the disconnect here should be obvious. Ngo and Quillette have no control over what other websites or people do. Just because neo-Nazis approve of something doesn’t mean that the person or thing they’re approving of is in league with them in any way. I’ve been discussed both positively and negatively on neo-Nazi websites myself, and I can tell you that I vehemently reject their ideological standpoints.
If a random somebody and a white supremacist both agree that they like the idea of open debate, for instance, it doesn’t make that random someone in league with Nazis. Holt’s attempt to discredit Ngo and Quillette in this way is in bad faith, and unfair to Ngo.
The CJR article goes through various reasons why we shouldn’t believe the study, but none of them actually point to why the study isn’t accurate. In short, Holt does everything to make us disbelieve the research except give us reasons why we should disbelieve the research. He doesn’t try to clear the journalists, just paint the reports about the findings with as negative a paintbrush as he can find.
I was more or less content with not injecting my opinion too much into this story simply off the idea that I had no way to completely verify the findings of the research either, despite the methodology listed by Lenihan. That said, I’ll offer it now.
As I said before, I’m shocked that some of the journalists are this connected but not surprised, and that’s remained true. I’m not surprised because the mainstream media is often sympathetic to leftist causes, and Antifa is no different. As Crowder even pointed out, when his team went undercover and found that Antifa was ready to use deadly weapons, leftist reporters weren’t at all interested in the story.
Even CNN’s Chris Cuomo has jumped to Antifa’s defense twice. That leftist journalists would find themselves friendly with Antifa isn’t at all far outside realm of believability.
To be fair, I can’t say that every journalist with Antifa connections is absolutely in league with them. I have over 31,000 followers on Twitter and I don’t have the time or energy to verify and research every person I interact with. I also follow accounts of people I vehemently disagree with. Follows don’t necessarily mean endorsements.
That said, Lenihan made it hard to overlook that some of them have working relationships with Antifa. Some of the facts he laid down about the goings on of some of the journalists highlighted made it awfully hard to make a defensive case.
Finally, I hate to say it, but I’m getting a strong vibe of “they doth protest too much.” It should have been a simple case of journalists explaining why they’re connected to Antifa members. It could be an honest oversight, or perhaps they’re friends with that person but don’t necessarily agree with everything they do, and fair enough. I would have also accepted a complete admittance that they’re totally in agreement with many Antifa members and causes.
Instead, the reaction was pretty intense. People have been accused of being linked with neo-Nazis despite no direct connection, and even simple reports like mine prompt questions about who represents who legally.
Meanwhile, no one is actually refuting Lenihan’s findings.