Many journalists resent Ngo’s politics, ethics, and sudden success. Yet the establishment media’s approach is the same when Ngo is out of the picture. Antifa is a subject that major media outlets tend to cover once, as a box to be checked. Far-left attacks are treated as isolated incidents rather than episodes in an ongoing story. They are not to be covered like violence from the far right or white nationalists. Andy Ngo covers the story that way—and the media do not like it or the mirror he holds up to them.
The establishment media’s lopsided approach to political violence ultimately damages both our politics and journalism. Politics are supposed to function as nonviolent dispute resolution. Weimar-style street brawling is a signpost on the path to the collapse of normal politics, one we ignore at our peril. Pretending that groups such as Antifa are not a problem is a tactic that will be noticed by at least half the country, accelerate the vicious cycle of our political discourse, and desensitize partisans to political violence of all stripes.
Turning a blind eye to left-wing violence may have the corollary effect of burning up whatever moral and institutional capital the establishment media have left. The media will be seen as knuckling under to—or even embracing—Antifa’s core beliefs. After all, many progressives already believe hate speech is no different from physical assault, which is the root of Antifa’s belief in preemptive violence.
To blame Andy Ngo for injuries he suffered while reporting on Antifa, even if one finds him biased, is to tacitly accept Antifa’s general demand that its members are not to be photographed or identified on threat of violence. No respectable journalist would accept that demand from the Ku Klux Klan. Those who accept it here will similarly lose public respect. The establishment media need to do the right thing covering left-wing violence, if only out of self-interest. Whether they will is another story.