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National Public Radio (NPR), a taxpayer-supported public media outlet, referenced a legal act of self-defense involving a driver and several Black Lives Matter protestors blocking a road to claim “right-wing extremists” are increasingly using vehicles to attack peaceful protesters.
A side-by-side graphic of two news reports — one by NPR and the other by a local news outlet in Louisville, Ky. — using the same photo suggested that both incidents were the result of vehicular attacks against BLM demonstrators by “right-wing extremists.”
The graphic of the two stories was created by American Spectator columnist Stephen L. Miller with the comment, “NPR vs Reality.” It was retweeted by presidential son Donald Trump Jr., who wrote, “Defund NPR… or at least stop their leftist bulls**t already.”
Defund NPR… or at least stop their leftist bullshit already. https://t.co/tPW6XtDCLb
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 22, 2020
NPR editors noted in a correction after the report went first published that “[a] previous version of this story included a photo of a protester being struck by a car in Louisville, Kentucky. The photo, chosen by editors, does not appear to be an example of the assaults described in the story, and has been replaced. Police have not charged the driver, but have charged two of the protesters involved in that incident. Authorities continue to investigate.”
The pic used by NPR came from surveillance video incorporated as part of a news story by WAVE3 about ongoing protests in Louisville following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
The WAVE report centered around an alleged BLM protester who was struck by a vehicle as several people converged on the driver on a Louisville street. But, as the local news report noted, the driver was not charged with a crime; rather, the protesters were.
“Police said protesters had blocked the intersection, standing in front of the woman’s car with a megaphone. During a verbal altercation between the driver and the protesters, someone ripped out one of the driver’s dreadlocks,” WAVE reported.
“When someone pulled a gun, the driver sped off and struck a protester. When she stopped at a red light a block later, someone pointed a gun at her,” the report noted further, adding the driver sped off once again.
Initially, NPR used the WAVE report video photo for its story on alleged increases in vehicle attacks against protesters by conservative ‘extremists.’
The NPR report begins:
Right-wing extremists are turning cars into weapons, with reports of at least 50 vehicle-ramming incidents since protests against police violence erupted nationwide in late May.
At least 18 are categorized as deliberate attacks; another two dozen are unclear as to motivation or are still under investigation, according to a count released Friday by Ari Weil, a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago’s Chicago Project on Security and Threats. Weil has tracked vehicle-ramming attacks, or VRAs, since protests began.
Even so, however, the report makes several tenuous statements and outright leaps of faith in tying vehicle-borne attacks to ‘right-wing’ people.
Of the 20 people facing prosecution for ramming others, NPR identified one — the state leader of the Virginia Ku Klux Klan — as an extremist, adding that “a California man” has been “charged with attempted murder after antagonizing protesters and then driving into them, striking a teenage girl.”
The report also references video footage “of some attacks shows drivers yelling at or threatening Black Lives Matter protesters before hitting the gas” — without providing any context, as those drivers could simply be angry that people are blocking streets.
“The message they’re trying to send is, ‘You need to get out of the street and stop these protests,’” Weil said. “They’re trying to intimidate the most recent wave of BLM protesters, to stop their movement.”
Not surprisingly, the NPR report referenced the high-profile ramming death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Va., who was struck by a white supremacist.
There are other indications that the NPR story is biased:
Weil said support for the attacks is not just seen in extremist channels but is also spreading in more mainstream Republican and conservative spaces.
After the Charlottesville attack, Fox News deleted and apologized for running a syndicated piece that encouraged car-ramming attacks. Originally published by the right-wing Daily Caller, the online article included a video montage of car attacks under the headline “Here’s A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road.”
But there’s no real evidence to support that drivers are ‘right-wing’ just because they holler at protesters blocking them from reaching their destinations, including their jobs. Drivers may become just as angry at any demonstrators blocking traffic, regardless of their political ideology or cause.
Notably, conservative media are constantly being labeled ‘right-wing’ by NPR and other so-called ‘mainstream media’ outlets which have a decided Leftist editorial bent, yet they are never labeled as “Left-wing” publications.
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