Spectator USA

Skip to Content

Liberalism Life Media US Politics

How I became an ‘extremist’ overnight

As with the Covington students, my smile has been taken as evidence of a sinister right-wing conspiracy

August 30, 2019

4:13 AM

30 August 2019

4:13 AM

Ever since being beaten and robbed by Antifa in Portland in June, I have continued to receive threats of violence, which have prompted attention from police. But the scale of the abuse I received on Tuesday morning after waking up was unprecedented.

The source of the rage? A Daily Beast hit piece headlined, ‘Right-wing star Andy Ngo exits Quillette after damning video surfaces.’ This was followed by another story in the Washington Examiner, shared in a tweet, which said I was out at Quillette ‘after controversial video surfaces showing him doing nothing to stop or report violent attack.’ This was followed by more hit pieces on VICE and Media Matters. Never mind that the purported video shows no such thing — or that I actually parted ways with the magazine more than a week earlier, to focus on my new projects. What matters here is that I am despised by left-wing journalists, so my reputation must be damaged.

In disinformation campaigns designed to destroy a person’s reputation, lies are mixed with kernels of truth to make it difficult for even good-faith readers to discern fact from fiction. What is indisputable is that a selectively released, non-continuous video by a pseudonymous Antifa activist on a leftist blog shows me standing near right-wing activists on a street shortly before a brawl on May 1 in Portland. What’s false is the defamatory claim that I had knowledge of a violent criminal conspiracy. Alex Zielinski, the author of the blog post on the Portland Mercury, a left-wing alternative paper and site, never bothered to contact me for comment.

The 18-minute shaky, first-person video by an Antifa informant using the pseudonym ‘Ben’ shows right-wing activists discussing going to a pub hosting an Antifa party after the May Day demonstrations earlier in the day. This video is the climax of two years of ‘Ben’’s ‘spying’ for Antifa. Some of the right-wing activists are recorded wearing helmets, tactical gloves, and goggles — gear adopted by both left-wing and right-wing protesters at demonstrations in Portland which often devolve into riots.

I walked around the street the right-wing activists were standing on. I caught snippets of various conversations about how they would defend themselves, but not enough to piece together a full conversation. The loitering lasted much longer than what was released in the video. I did not notice one of the women holding a brick at one point. I was preoccupied on my phone, looking through Twitter for what other journalists had reported earlier about the protests where I had been sprayed with silly string and punched by Antifa militants. I also wasn’t the only photojournalist on the street. Three others milled around the area, including left-wing videographer Mike Bivins.

At one point in the video, the right-wing activists joked about being ‘outnumbered.’ This is quite the understatement, as they are often countered 10-to-one at such protests. I smiled, thinking about the futility of these right-wing demonstrations in ultra-progressive Portland. The Portland Mercury writer falsely claimed that my faint smile was evidence I had knowledge of a planned fight. When people who are perceived to be right-wing smile, it’s often taken as sinister evidence: remember the Covington schoolboys. A viral post on Twitter took the lie a step further, claiming I was ‘laughing.’ This lie has been repeated unchecked in various ‘news’ stories.

What the undercover video at the center of the controversy strategically leaves out is what actually happened at Cider Riot. ‘Ben’ believes his video is evidence of an obvious violent right-wing criminal conspiracy — yet he never bothered to call police. Instead, he called his comrades at the Antifa party. When I arrived at the pub with the other journalists, Antifa activists prevented us from walking freely on the sidewalk outside the bar. A woman from the pub approached me, saying mockingly that she had applied to my mother’s business for a job. A masked man next to her said the address out loud and they laughed at their own sick threat of a ‘joke.’ Weapons they had included a bat, brass knuckles and a bear mace.

Soon after, Joey Gibson, a leader of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, arrived in the area with a small group of people. He stood on the sidewalk outside the pub before being confronted and pressed against by a masked person from the pub. I recorded this altercation, which quickly escalated into a fight in which activists from both sides pepper-sprayed and threw objects at each other. (For the record, I never witnessed Gibson participating in the fight. He was more concerned with live-streaming to his followers.)

I retreated from the area, then began to record again while standing behind a van on the street. It was here that a masked person suddenly ran up and sprayed me point-blank in the face with a chemical that burned my eyes and skin. I was totally blinded. During this time, I could hear a loud street brawl erupting. There were no police in the area. Viral video from the riot shows Antifa activist Heather Clark charging into the fight and getting knocked out. Ian Kramer has been arrested and charged for the alleged assault. Antifa accounts claimed Clark had her neck broken, but when police finally arrived, the pub’s patrons burst out laughing when asked if anyone was injured, and wanted to give a statement, according to a tweet by Rose City Antifa. I call that sort of laughing sinister.

I have repeatedly reported what happened to me to the Portland police that night, but there have been no arrests in relation to my attack, despite several images being provided to authorities of at least one attacker. Six right-wing suspects, including Joey Gibson, have been arrested and charged in recent weeks for their alleged role in the brawl. Cider Riot is also suing most of the same individuals in a civil lawsuit for $1 million.

‘Ben’ claims in the interview on the Portland Mercury blog that, ‘There’s an understanding that Patriot Prayer protects Ngo and he protects them.’ This claim is baseless and false. The truth is, Antifa protected him while those who couldn’t be trusted to provide favorable coverage — including me — were attacked. In addition to my multiple assaults that day, a student journalist from Oregon State had his camera destroyed with a bat and was left bloodied by a beating by the bar’s Antifa patrons. There have been no arrests for that assault either.

To go from being a victim of multiple assaults to suddenly accused of being the violent aggressor or complicit in the acts of others, is the type of gaslighting I am used to by now. In the hours after being beaten and robbed over two months ago in an unprovoked attack claimed by Rose City Antifa — for which there have still been no arrests — Antifa activists falsely accused me of assaulting people before being beaten. This week, Portland newspaper Willamette Week speculated that because I had declined an offer to be provided security from the Proud Boys, this was actually evidence of collusion.

That the Portland Mercury and other news outlets would repeat the claims of an unverified source is an Antifa-style defamation by journalism. The ‘damning’ video purporting to show me conspiring in a violent attack, which shows nothing of the sort, is just the latest in a string of lies designed to intimidate me into silence since the brain injury I sustained in June failed to silence me. Even the Portland Mercury’s own reporting casts doubt as to how clear the day’s events were to the people who were there:

‘Ben says it didn’t hit him while he was filming that he might have captured criminal evidence. It was only when Cider Riot filed their lawsuit against Patriot Prayer on May 3 that Ben decided to send his footage to the cidery’s legal team.

Most people have not watched the video, but I encourage them to do so. What fair-minded people will see isn’t an extremist but a journalist.


Sign up to receive a weekly summary of the best of Spectator USA


Show comments
Close