With the recent hubbub about fake news I couldn’t help but think about the fact that most of the news we have consumed throughout our lives has been intentionally misleading and spun to fit the narrative of government officials and corporate sponsors. At no point was this more apparent to me personally than watching the news coverage of the Disrupt J20 protests in DC on inauguration day.
During my three day stay in DC we marched, we yelled, we chanted, we disrupted, and we were attacked for it. I watched as police kettled in peaceful protesters and attempted mass arrests of people who had done nothing more than exercise their First Amendment right to assemble and speak freely. I watched police try to push us off the streets by attacking us with tear gas, pepper spray, concussion grenades, and more. The news claims that we attacked first and the police were merely responding to our violence.
To be perfectly clear, it was the other way around. We were cornered, violently attacked, and our safety and liberty were threatened. And yes, we did fight back.
I saw black bloc folks protecting children and elders who were being attacked while posing absolutely no threat at all. Yes, black bloc folks (the ones the news paints as nothing but a bunch of thugs and criminals) were protecting people from violence. I even saw black bloc protesters defend Trump supporters and their children when police were indiscriminately attacking everyone in the street. I saw black bloc folks de-arrest people who were being unjustly arrested while being peaceful. But let me again be clear: I never once saw a black bloc protester attack first. Sure, after their battles with the police they decided to risk smashing a few symbols of capitalism; but in so doing, I never once saw a black bloc protester start a fight with someone. On the other hand, I and my fellow protesters were openly threatened by Trump supporters on multiple occasions, including by one brandishing a fire extinguisher and threatening to hit people with it. Needless to say, he was stopped before he could hurt anyone.
Now this is not to say that every person in black bloc was a saint. Nor am I claiming to have had eyes on everything going on during the protests at all times. But I have seen blatant lies in the media coverage of events that I directly participated in. No, the police were not responding to people throwing things at cops, the protesters were responding to the police spraying and shooting at them.
Remember this when discussing fake news. Remember that most news is spun to meet the needs of corporate and political interests. Sometimes the news is filled with selective facts, other times with half lies, and very often with outright lies. That doesn’t mean you should never watch or read the news, but it does mean you should do so with a healthy dose of skepticism.