Much has been made of the so-called ‘mob mentality’ of left-wing protesters in the last few weeks. The GOP has been eager to paint anti-Kavanaugh activists as the kind of hysterical torch-wielders that deeply concerned this country’s founders.

It’s intriguing, therefore, to see how quickly many in the media seized the opportunity to show the violent ‘mob’ mindset in action on the right. Last night, VICE founder Gavin McInnes was the talk of Twitter after footage emerged showing a protester being beaten by a group of ‘Proud Boys’ (McInnes’s followers) on a Manhattan pavement.

Activists were protesting outside the Metropolitan Republican Club, where McInnes hosted an event where he reenacted the assassination of Japanese socialist leader Otoya Yamaguchi on the anniversary of his death. The club had been vandalised on Thursday night.

The street violence has been covered extensively, by HuffPost, BuzzFeed News and The Daily Beast. But when I spoke to a hungover McInnes this morning, he was unrepentant.

‘I’m getting conspiratorial about all this…I’m starting to think that Soros or the socialist Democrats are involved,’ he said. 

‘I couldn’t help but think that the socialist Democrats see me reenacting this murder of a socialist and they go “gotta put some money on this, get some optics.” I feel like this guy that got beat up was trying to get beat up. Have some optics. But that’s just my conspiracy theory.’

The podcast host was clear in his thoughts that the Proud Boys were provoked by the non-violent actions in the lead-up to his talk.

He said, ‘Antifa came to the Republican Club the night before, did $6,000 worth of damage, putting symbols on the doors saying “this is just the beginning, we are not civil.” So police were everywhere, they showed up around 6 o’clock, and were screaming “no Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA,” threatening attendees who walked in, screaming at them. Police had to escort the attendees out.

‘We’re allowed out maybe half an hour after our talk is done. And these dumbass antifas are waiting around the corner to ambush us. And I recognise the guy, he was there at 6 o’clock, he waited six hours for this ambush. Then he grabs a MAGA hat, this is a crowd of like 10 Proud Boys, and grabs a MAGA hat, which is like “what are you doing dude, you’re about to get beaten?” “Tuned up,” as we say. And so, the media’s narrative is, we go wandering the streets beating up random people. I believe one of the guys said “fag”, which is an unfortunate swear word to use, but it often happens in violent situations. It clearly wasn’t a homophobic gaybash, obviously. Just someone swearing.

‘This is what people don’t understand, when you start a climate of fear, then everything is a provocation in that context. Like at Deploraball, if I beat up an antifa guy who just walked in front of me, that would be egregious in an elevator, or on the street, but when people are hurling faeces, urine and batteries at us, then walking in front of me was a provocation, and if I was to show weakness, I would have been killed. This is the mob mentality that everyone was talking about.’

McInnes appears to believe that the beating came about as an act of self-defense, as his group were threatened. ‘This is people standing up for themselves,’ he said. ‘This person was not randomly beaten in the street on 35th and Park just going to get a coffee. This guy had been screaming threats all night as part of a group that had been threatening people all night, vandalising our establishment, trying to attack us. This was not a random incident, this was someone who fucked around, and found out. We don’t start fights, we finish them. And we are living in a culture today, where the media says “if you don’t just sit there and take an antifa beating, then you’re violent.”’

Video from the night shown on national news outlets shows McInnes brandishing what many in the media have taken to be a real sword at the protesters. But he maintains it was not a real weapon: ‘So I had a toy sword out, they’re even so easily triggered that they’re saying that I had a sword! It’s a toy sword I got at a toy store! They threw piss, a bottle of piss, at the car I was in, at the Uber, that didn’t break.’

The VICE founder claims that his group of Proud Boys are the victims of a liberal media hit job. ‘The important thing you also have to know about all of this reporting is these are reporters aren’t just pro-antifa: they’re in antifa,’ he said.

‘Christopher Mathias is an antifa member. He goes to rallies with his mask on. Esquire…I don’t know about New York Times but BuzzFeed, all of these sort of lower-tier liberal sites that are defending antifa, those guys go to rallies in masks.’

At the time of writing, no one from McInnes’s group appears to be facing charges. BuzzFeed spokesperson Matt Mittenthal said, ‘We can’t respond to total fabrications.’

Update 10/13, 7:30p.m.,: Christopher Mathias told Spectator USALOL no. I dont go to rallies wearing a mask. You can ask Gavins fascist and white supremacist friends. Ive covered rallies in Charlottesville, Gainesville, Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan, Portland and Berkeley, all without wearing a mask.

And no, I’m not a member of antifa. Im not even sure theres a way to become a member of antifa. Probably best not to publish Gavins wild conspiracy theories about journalists. Were talking about a dude who is often a guest on Alex Joness InfoWars — a site that has claimed the massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax, that 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government, and that juice boxes make kids gay.