Alt-right and assorted racist groups have canceled plans to march in Boston and eight other cities tomorrow, because, say the organizers of #MarchOnGoogle, they’ve received “credible alt-left terrorist threats.” They nevertheless hope to regroup and march “in a few weeks’ time.” (They’re outraged at Google for firing an employee who ripped its efforts to increase gender and racial diversity.) But whenever and in whatever form white racists gather again, the mainstream news media need to resist their every instinct to talk mush and passively imply that “both sides” are at fault, as some media initially did over Charlottesville.
It’s true that for most of this week nearly every news outlet this side of Fox and Breitbart has put responsibility for the death, injuries, and violence in Charlottesville squarely on the white nationalists. The press has been even more adamant in calling out Trump since his “off the rails” news conference on Tuesday, when he defended the “fine people” on “both sides,” and conjured an “alt left” threatening those who “innocently” just want to protest the removal of Confederate monuments. But, in the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville last Saturday, too much of the respectable press offered up the kind of muddled headlines that could allow low-information news consumers—as I was that day—to believe that, yep, both sides are at fault, or worse.
I was busy and distracted that afternoon, but from what little cable news I had glanced at, it seemed as if an antiracism protester had driven a car into a crowd of white nationalists, killing a woman and injuring many more. This confused me—surely the good guys wouldn’t be so stupid as to hand Nazis the gift of martyrdom, but that seemed a real possibility. I caught only bits of what the pundits were angrily talking about, but the CNN chyron remained steady: “terror in virginia: car strikes crowd at white nationalist rally.”
There was this at 4:24 pm ET (via Mediaite):
And the same an hour later: