It’s been a rough summer for independent Portland journalist Andy Ngo: Antifa activists beat him up at a June 29 rally, and now many in left-of-center media have accused him of being complicit in a far-right attack that took place some weeks earlier.
But despite widespread insistence that Ngo knew members of the far-right group Patriot Prayer were about to instigate violence, the underlying evidence is incredibly thin. At worst, new video footage reveals Ngo to be inattentive and preoccupied with his phone at key moments. This information strengthens concerns about the selectivity of Ngo’s reporting, but falls far short of proving that he knew about a planned attack.
“The accusations are defamatory and they’re false,” Ngo told Reason. “I’m seeing myself being un-personed.”
On August 26, a member of Patriot Prayer known pseudonymously as “Ben” revealed to the Portland Mercury that he was actually an undercover antifa activist who had taken it upon himself to inform his fellow antifa members about the activities and whereabouts of area right-wing extremists.
Ben surreptitiously recorded 18 minutes of video footage showing several right-wing protesters in the run-up to a violent scuffle between Patriot Prayer and antifa that took place at Cider Riot, a left-wing sympathetic restaurant, on May 1. The owner of Cider Riot has sued Patriot Prayer’s leader, Joey Gibson, for trespassing on private property, and Gibson and five of his group are facing felony charges for inciting a riot. Ben’s video was submitted as evidence by Cider Riot’s legal defense team.
The video, as well as Portland Mercury reporter Alex Zielinski’s description of it, has led to widespread denunciation—not just of Patriot Prayer, but also of Ngo, a former reporter for Quillette who is known for documenting confrontations between right-wing and left-wing groups in the Portland area.
Many in the media have said Ngo is biased against antifa, and in favor of far-right groups like Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys. Critics say that Ngo selectively edits his videos of the scuffles to make it seem like antifa activists are the aggressors. Some of these critics have a point, and in his conversation with Reason, Ngo conceded that he’s gotten things wrong, and has been overly focused on covering moments of physical confrontation between the two groups.
“There’s some merit in some of the criticisms of things that I’ve gotten wrong,” he said. “I want to become a better journalist and better reporter on these things.”
But Ben’s video—which shows Ngo in the company of a small group of Gibson’s associates immediately prior to the Cider Riot battle—is being widely cited in the media as evidence that Patriot Prayer did indeed conspire to attack Cider Riot, and that Ngo was tacitly involved. The coverage all but brands him as a co-conspirator.
This clip, shot right before Patriot Prayer arrived at Cider Riot on May Day, is the clearest evidence I’ve seen supporting the claim that PP & leader Joey Gibson were intent on instigating a fight that afternoon. https://t.co/G1iM9XUDi2— Alex Zielinski (@alex_zee) August 22, 2019
Article by Robby Soave