A year-old video purportedly showing six Antifa members beating up an individual resurfaced in August 2018, thanks in part to its inclusion in a Fox News article headlined “Antifa’s violent confrontations with police, journalists mar otherwise peaceful rally counterprotesters.”
Fox crowd-sourced several videos from social media supposedly showing violent confrontations that took place in Washington, D.C., and Virginia around the 12 August 2018 “Unite the Right 2” rally. Although some of the included tweets originated with reporters at news outlets such as NBC News, NPR, and a local ABC affiliate, Fox also included a video posted by the “Blair B*tch Project.”
The video in question was preceded by a sentence stating that it was unclear where the video was shot or who was involved in the altercation:
Members of Antifa were seen launching eggs, fireworks and water bottles at police officers and the Secret Service, beating people in the street and threatening members of the media during the uber-left, so-called anti-fascist group’s counter-protest of rightwing rallies this weekend in Washington, D.C. and Virginia.
Another video purportedly shows several Antifa members beating up an unidentified person in the street. It’s unclear where this took place.
SIX Antifa members beat one person. Luckily one person jumps in to protect them.
Fox News later removed that video from their article and added a note explaining that it was actually shot in 2017, not at an August 2018 event: “EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous tweet included in this report was posted in 2017.”
The above-displayed screenshot was taken by Mother Jones editor Mark Follman, and it documents that the Fox article originally linked a video taken by Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer during a similar protest in August 2017:
Antifa beat down apparent alt-righter. pic.twitter.com/WVdDJqLKmA
— Shane Bauer (@shane_bauer) August 27, 2017
A number of outlets used this sensational piece of footage back in August 2017 for articles concerning reported moments of violence occurring between members of the alt-right and counter-protesters who opposed them in Berkeley. NBC’s Joe Scarborough even retweeted a version of the video which was accompanied by an inaccurate caption:
— Shane Bauer (@shane_bauer) August 29, 2017
This footage was not taken in Washington D.C. in August 2018, nor does it capture a bystander getting jumped by Antifascists while leaving a grocery store. This video was shot in Berkeley during an alt-right rally in August 2017 and, according to Bauer, records a group of antifa protesters beating a right-wing activist.
Bauer wrote an article in the aftermath of the Berkeley protests asserting that the news media were missing the big picture by focusing on sensational moments such as the one depicted in the viral video:
Over the weekend, thousands of people hit the streets of San Francisco and Berkeley, California, completely overwhelming far-right rallies that were expected to attract white supremacists. The locals were fed up. Back in April, a Berkeley rally consisting of several hundred alt-right activists, including white supremacist groups, had devolved into a bloody all-day brawl. Two weeks ago, some of those same supremacists helped organize the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed when a neo-Nazi drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters. A week later, an attempted far-right rally in Boston drew some 20,000 marchers opposed to white supremacy. Last weekend marked the latest attempt of far-right and white supremacist groups to hold provocative rallies in major American cities—and once again, they were dwarfed by the anti-racist demonstrators.
But that wasn’t the story many Americans heard. Much of the coverage of Sunday’s non-rally gave the impression of violence and chaos, homing in on selected incidents and downplaying the dominant aspects of the day. The Washington Post‘s story, later tweeted by President Donald Trump, was titled “Black-Clad Antifa Members Attack Peaceful Right-Wing Demonstrators in Berkeley.” The San Francisco Chronicle story carried the headline, “Masked Anarchists Violently Rout Right-Wing Demonstrators in Berkeley.” CBS News reported that the “anti-hate” rally was “disrupted” by “scores of anarchists wearing black clothing and masks” who “stormed” the demonstration.
Most of the stories linked to a video I shot of five antifa protesters beating a right-wing activist. Little else from my two days of live-tweeting was picked up by news outlets. The beating I filmed was newsworthy, yes, but it should be viewed in the context of the rest of the day. Sunday’s violence was minimal compared with the extreme violence at April’s white supremacist rally in Berkeley. And while Sunday’s counterprotesters were intolerant of the far-right activists, the overall mood was festive. Organizers later declared the day a “victory against white supremacy.”