The Polarization Of Journalism And Its Consequences

This piece has a prerequisite: Read up on the assaults on Andy Ngo by Portland AntiFa. Read both the accounts of the assault and the comments of “journalists” that amount to “he expected it,” “he wanted it,” and “he deserved it.” Then return here.


Finished so soon? My, my.

Attacks on journalists who dare to cover AntiFa’s violent antics have been going on for a while now. The recent assault on Andy Ngo of Quillette is entirely within that pattern. It’s distinguished (pardon the choice of words) from its predecessors mostly by its near-lethality.

And yes: Ngo, an intelligent man, would have known that once he’d been seen and identified, the probability that AntiFa would attack him would be high. That doesn’t mean he wanted it to happen, Neither does it mean that he was there to be personally attacked rather than to document the Patriot Prayer assemblage and AntiFa’s assaults on it. But he surely had a sense of the risks involved in covering the episode.

This is called devotion to one’s chosen trade. It’s also called courage. But when viewed dispassionately, the episode appears symptomatic rather than basic.


One of the worst aspects of our current political environment is the categorization of news organs and the people who work for them into political allegiances: “He’s for us” versus “He’s against us.” At this point I can’t think of a prominent organ or reporter who’s above such things. Indeed, I can’t imagine how any of them could stand apart from it, for a simple reason: Merely covering and reporting on actual events is enough to get one categorized.

That follows from AntiFa’s use of violence and intimidation to silence the Right. AntiFa is a terrorist organization. By its choice of tactics, it has placed itself above the law. Therefore, anyone who documents its actions, even if baldly and objectively, is its enemy. As we mathematical types like to say, Quod erat demonstrandum.

Ideology doesn’t enter into it. Only tactics matter. Keep that firmly in mind. Keep this in mind as well: Sooner or later, AntiFa will face adversaries as violent as itself, if not more so.

With every person and organization in journalism preassigned to an Us or Them billet, there is no longer any safety for any of them. Their persons are at continuous hazard. Their organizations are equally at risk. Those deemed Left will be exposed to the vigilantes of the Right just as those deemed Right have been exposed to the violence of AntiFa.

The inaction of the Portland police during the attack on Ngo is an equally important indicator. It now seems well established that they were under orders from On High not to intervene. Current trends continuing, we may expect that, should AntiFa confront armed, belligerent Rightists in a city under a Right-leaning administration, the police would be told not to intervene against the Right. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will.

The news game no longer has rules in any meaningful sense. If the behavior of “the forces of order” will henceforward be determined by ideology rather than law, neither does American society.


I could go on at great length about this horror…that is, if I could go on at all. Our nation is breaking down. Indeed, there’s a strong case that the breakdown has already gone to completion and what we’ve been witnessing are merely the inevitable consequences: the opening skirmishes in a non-territorial civil war. Attacks on journalists – and I don’tmean President Trump slagging off the openly hostile Acostas and Ryans of the media – guarantee that from this moment until something resembling public order is restored, all news is war news.

Americans old enough to remember the World War II “newsreels” can surely remember their patriotic gloss, their open celebrations of our victories and their grief over our setbacks and losses. There was Us and there was Them, and there was no equivocation about who were the Good Guys. The newsreels were propaganda as much as news: intended not only to inform but also to sustain domestic morale, that the men in the field might continue to receive the degree of support they would need to keep fighting.

That’s the sort of reportage we might receive at best. At worst? Let your imagination run free; I’m sure you can conjure up a more vivid picture for yourself than any I could construct from mute pixels.

It’s time to pray…for all of us.