Buzzfeed’s profile on Andy Ngo smacks of jealousy
When Buzzfeed’s Joe Bernstein isn’t busy slandering PewDiePie or doxxing a 14-year-old girl for having edgy YouTube content, he writes the occasional profile. Recently, he set his sights on Andy Ngo—a prominent journalist who frequently gets in harm’s way as he documents the activities of Antifa. Ngo has been doing this work for a long time, and he’s good at it. He’s part of the new alt media that with backpack and bus pass goes after a story with nothing but cell phones, GoPros, and apps.
Bernstein travelled to Portland and managed to document the moments leading up to and after Antifa’s violent June 29th assault on Ngo. While conceding that the attack was unprovoked, and that Ngo was a helpless victim, he is hesitant to give Ngo the credit he deserves for his excellent journalism. Bernstein was fair at times (by Buzzfeed’s standards), but what’s striking about his article is that it reads like a last-minute rewrite done to accommodate for the inconvenient fact that Antifa brutally assaulted Ngo during the course of its writing.
Language that reveals Bernstein’s original bias still peppers the piece: “I was in talks to shadow him at the upcoming demonstration, which I thought might be a good way to illustrate how Ngo constructs an incendiary political narrative out of a narrow selection of facts.”
Bernstein suggests that Ngo lacks integrity where Antifa is concerned. Then real violence happened and Bernstein found out the facts didn’t support his supposition. To his credit, Bernstein tells the truth about the assault itself: “Nothing he did that day suggested that he planned or even secretly wanted to be assaulted, which has been a common enough refrain in the days since from some on the left. The attack was not provoked.”
But without missing a beat, he pivots to a position of typical Buzzfeed-style victim-blaming: “Ngo has been building to a dramatic confrontation with the Portland far left for months, his star rising along with the severity of the encounters.”
Bernstein writes almost apologetically about Ngo’s Antifa attackers, referring to them as a “leaderless activist group … that has been skillfully transmogrified by the conservative media into one of the gravest threats facing Americans in 2019—the rampant id of an already irrational left.” It’s almost as if an Antifa member didn’t firebomb a federal immigration facility just last week.
Bernstein is right to profile Ngo. This is a new kind of journalism that intones the old standards, but also has to create new ones. But he speaks of Ngo’s work in low key insults: “He is willing to make himself the story and to stream himself doing it. … I’m not even sure Ngo is a troll.” The fact that Bernstein is so obsessed with Ngo’s “star” status is very telling.
Bernstein talks about the Ngo attack footage like its akin to a wannabe it girl’s attention-grabbing sex tape as opposed to police evidence of a criminal assault. In new media, the journalist is as much a part of the story as the story itself.
No one is fooling themselves anymore into believing that there is true objectivity. The presence of a journalist while covering a story or event absolutely changes that story, it changes the behaviour of the actors in the story, and the individual journalist’s perspective colours the way the story is reported. The public is too smart to not know when their story is being told, and to get in on the action.
Journalists of the alt and new media aren’t fooling themselves into believing that they are separate entities, flies on proverbial walls, they know they’re as much a part of what they’re covering as the story itself. The best they can do is be as objective as possible with regard to their own perspective, and Ngo, even when bleeding and cut up, excels at observing the story, his place in it, and his perception. Bernstein minimizes Ngo’s freelance work by calling it “Uberized” and geared to “inflammatory content.”
Reporting is not the same beast as it was in the 20th Century. Newsrooms are consistently decimated. Writers get paid based on clicks. Freelance journalists go out there and do the work the mainstream media won’t do, and then are shamed for it. New media writers have to earn readers’ trust that the mainstream media has so casually tossed away. The reporter is both the conduit and the brand, and every word they write is their own, for which they alone are accountable.
Bernstein writes, “Since then, Ngo has maintained a running list on Twitter of alleged hate crimes that have turned out to be fabrications, exaggerations, or committed by minority groups against other minority groups. The entries in the list, which now run to well more than a hundred, have been retweeted hundreds of thousands of times.”
This seems to be a very dubious thing for a person purporting to be an objective journalist to point out. The goal of journalism should be to report truths, no matter how inconvenient. And in this current age of social panic, documenting hoaxes is vital work.
Bernstein goes on to describe Ngo’s methods as “unsafe, inimical to good journalism, and border on propagandistic,” but then adds: “he’s not a grifter.” Bernstein’s heartless rendering of Ngo’s ordeal and sliming of his professional work is maddening to behold. Especially since it’s rendered in such a glib tone.
What is the point of a journalist trying to take down another journalist? Bernstein doesn’t attack Ngo for errors, for misreporting, or for any professional reason, but merely because he doesn’t like his style or his presumed ideology.
As Claire Lehmann quite rightly points out, these kind of journalist-journalist hit pieces are likely to continue. It’s a symptom of the fact that the established outlets are rapidly dying. They don’t know what to do about it, or how to compete with the lean, hungry new outlets, so they attack. “As the media industry contracts, you will increasingly see journalists focusing their criticism on other journalists. Normal readers will increasingly switch off, leading to further contraction.”
If you want to take someone down, outshine them. There’s no call for this kind of professional discourtesy. But the old heads don’t feel a kinship with the new writers. And the new writers are too busy trying to stake a claim to reach out to the more established crowd.
Bernstein concludes with a confession:
If I’m being honest, I wasn’t only thinking about his safety. I was afraid of being the reporter who did not prevent Andy Ngo from being beaten. I was also, if I’m being really honest, afraid of being the reporter who prevented Andy Ngo from being beaten. I realized very clearly that anyone documenting the scene at that moment had the power to put me in any public context they wished to, had the power to change my life. I was aware how that would be good content, and how that might feel like violence.
It’s a stunning admission. It’s rhetorically clever because Bernstein is painting himself as a flawed and conflicted character. But it also reveals his cowardice, and his depressingly progressive tendency to equate language and narrative with actual violence.
Bernstein claims that he doesn’t want to be part of the story, but he’s aware of the fact that he has no control over it. He’s part of the story whether he wants to be or not. The time when there was a fourth wall between journalists and their subjects is gone. We’re all documenting, and we’re all documented.
In the end, Bernstein comes off jealous of Ngo’s journalistic acuity and popularity. His reporting on Ngo’s reporting is shallow and careerist. He dwells on Ngo’s rising star paragraph after paragraph in a way that suggests that he’s reflecting on his and his outlet’s fading limelight. It’s not a good look, but it is a look that Buzzfeed wears often these days.
On “Trans Day of Remembrance” this year, numerous politicians and celebrities used the occasion to virtue signal on social media. They repeated the claim-turned-mantra from LBGT activist groups that there is an “epidemic” of trans homicides motivated by transphobia and racism in the U.S.
Chelsea Clinton, doing what the Clintons do best, weighed in vapidly on Nov. 20: “Since 2013, more than 150 trans people have been murdered in the U.S., the majority Black transgender women. On #TDoR2019, we remember and honor the lives lost, hold their loved ones in our hearts and must commit to doing all we can to end this epidemic of violence and hate.”
Though the sentiment is valid, the claim she repeats is not. There is no “epidemic” of violent homicides against trans people in the U.S. How do I know? From data released by the Human Rights Campaign and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
I responded to Ms. Clinton: “The U.S. is one of the safest countries for trans people. The murder rate of trans victims is actually lower than that for cis population. Also, who is behind the murders? Mostly black men.”
Five days later, I was informed by Twitter that I had violated its policy against “hateful conduct.” For stating a verifiable empirical claim, Twitter determined that I “promote violence against, threaten or harass other people” based on protected characteristics. I was given the option of deleting the tweet and facing a timed suspension, or appealing the decision while remaining indefinitely locked out of the platform. I chose the latter option.
My appeal was rejected.
Twitter’s decision to force me to accept a false reality in order to use its platform is chilling to those who value truth above dogma, as uncomfortable as the truth may be. The dogma of our day is the trans ideology—an authoritarian worldview replete with science and evidence denial. Among many things, it claims that sex is a construct and that trans people are being hunted down across America
So far this year, there were 22 homicides involving trans or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. That number has held relatively steady since the HRC, America’s largest LGBT lobbying group, started releasing annual reports four years ago. According to the HRC, there were 26 homicides in 2018, 29 in 2017, 23 in 2016 and 21 in 2015. The HRC provides the most comprehensive data set for trans homicides in the country. The FBI does not release numbers of trans people who are killed.
Though every homicide is a tragedy and victims are due justice, lying about the scale is politically exploitative and reckless. It prevents the public from accessing real problems honestly in order to advocate for real solutions. Worst of all, it harms the very people who need protection.
The average homicide rate of cis males in the U.S. is around seven per 100,000 from 2015–2018, according to FBI figures. The rate for cis females during this timeframe is 1.9. The rate for trans homicides since the HRC began tracking in 2015? About 1.7. (This rate was calculated based on the 2016 UCLA Williams Institute estimate of there being about 1.7m trans adults in the U.S.)
For a developed country, the U.S. has high homicide rates. That is undisputed. But if the rates of cis men being killed isn’t spoken about as an “epidemic,” then neither should the rates for trans homicides, which is significantly lower compared to the cis population.
And while much attention is focused on the victims being mostly black trans women, no attention is given to the fact that the majority of known homicide suspects and convicts are also black. This intra-racial violence is consistent with other homicides in the U.S.
Additionally, there is no evidence to support the narrative that trans people are being killed because they are trans. The overwhelming majority of trans homicides involve victims being killed in the course of high-risk behaviours like street prostitution and drug dealing. Cis women and cis men involved in these activities face similar risks.
While it may feel good to earn praise by hiding uncomfortable truths, those who ultimately suffer in this instance are trans people themselves. They are told to fear people around them, that they could be killed at any moment and are helpless in the face of omnipresent hatred. This is not compassion or empowerment.
I’m now back on Twitter, but only because I was forced to accept that on this platform, a journalist will be punished for telling the truth.
Yesterday, journalist and The Post Millennial editor-at-large Andy Ngo was suspended from Twitter for the following tweet directed at Chelsea Clinton: “The US is one of the safest countries for trans people. The murder rate of trans victims is actually lower than that for cis population. Also, who is behind the murders? Mostly black men.” Ngo has been banned from Twitter for saying a true thing. As a journalist, his job is to expose the truth. Twitter has deemed the speaking of facts to be “hateful conduct.”
Ngo’s tweet was in response to Clinton’s Trans Remembrance Day post honouring murdered trans women. He showed that Clinton’s tweet was misleading. There has been much talk about how many trans women have been killed for being trans in the United States. Many trans activists claim that it is an epidemic. It should go without saying that harming someone for any reason, other than self-defence, is not acceptable, but in the facts vs. feelings war regarding the murders of trans people in the States, facts have been getting the short end of the stick. America is actually the safest place for trans people to live.
A widely purported stat is that trans women of colour have a life expectancy of just 35. This has been stated as fact. But what Katie Herzog uncovered for The Stranger is that this number was taken from the life expectancy of trans women in Central America, where violence of all kinds is incredibly high. That makes this not a valid stat for the United States, but activists tout it anyway. In the U.S., there were 118 trans women murdered between 2015-2019. In 2016 alone, there were 3,895 women murdered in the US, mostly by men in domestic circumstances, and that number is rising. No one calls that an epidemic.
In many of the trans murder cases, the trans women who were murdered led high-risk lifestyles. That doesn’t excuse their murder, but it does mean, that for the most part, they were in dangerous situations, and their deaths were not a result of identity-based hate. “What we do know from all available resources is that the violence these individuals experience occurs to a very broad range of people with diverse backgrounds and identities,” writes Chad Felix Greene for The Federalist, “It is clearly more an issue of high-risk environments than identity-based discrimination.”
Today, Twitter has rejected Ngo’s appeal for suspension, claiming that “Our support team has determined that a violation did take place, and therefore we will not overturn our decision. You will not be able to access Twitter through your account due to violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically our rules around: Violating our rules against hateful conduct. In order to restore account functionality, you can resolve the violations by logging into your account and completing the on-screen instructions.”
So there you have it: Ngo and Twitter are in a stalemate. Apparently, telling a statistically verifiable fact on Twitter is grounds for indefinite suspension. Meghan Murphy said women aren’t men, and it was curtains for her. Posie Parker was recently banned from Facebook, and interviews with her were removed from YouTube. Gender critical feminists have been taking heat for posting facts and the only thing Twitter has to say about it is that it’s hateful. Conservatives, too. James Woods tweeted, “If you try to kill the King, you best not miss #HangThemAll” in reference to the Mueller Report. He, too, was banished. Meanwhile, a quick Twitter search of the acronym “terf” reveals thousands upon thousands of abusive and threatening tweets, all in the name of social justice.
Discussion around trans issues is infused with feelings. When facts make an appearance, and those feelings are exposed as perspective and not reality, journalists and investigators are called out as transphobic. It’s as though the demand that we buy into the delusion that there is no such thing as biological sex transcends across the spectrum of feelings.
What happens next is unclear. Ngo may be the next Twitter exile, following in the footsteps of Meghan Murphy and James Woods, who paid the ultimate Twitter price for speaking their truth. Ngo tells us that “Twitter has determined that a verifiable empirical claim can be deemed ‘hateful conduct’ if enough people find it offensive. We know this only works in one direction.”
Indeed. As time marches on, so does Twitter, swiftly on its way to an Orwellian hellscape where only the approved may speak. The judgement process is opaque, the terms change definition depending on who is using the words, and the only appeals process is to apologize and submit to censure. It is into these hands that we have placed our free speech rights. It is beneath this gaze that we are exposed. That’s why it’s not enough to chalk Twitter’s practices up to corporate decision-making whimsy. We need to hold their feet to the fire. We cannot let the arbiters of truth be those who label facts as hate.
Prominent journalist Andy Ngo, who is the Editor-at-large at The Post Millennial, has been temporarily suspended from Twitter following a response tweet to human rights campaigner, Clinton Foundation operator, and political heir Chelsea Clinton regarding trans murder rates.
The tweet by Clinton highlights the deaths of more than 150 trans people who “have been murdered in the U.S.” since 2013, “the majority black transgender women.”
The post included a quoted tweet and a video by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC.) “On #TDoR2019 (trans day of remembrance,) we remember and honor the lives lost, hold their loved ones in our hearts and must commit to doing all we can to end this epidemic of violence and hate.
In response, Ngo tweeted the following:
“The US is one of the safest countries for trans people. The murder rate of trans victims is actually lower than that for cis population. Also, who is behind the murders? Mostly black men.”
Twitter employees deemed Ngo’s tweet violated the Twitter Rules, specifically for their rules against hateful conduct.
In response to the suspension, Ngo provided comment to The Post Millennial: “Stating a verifiable empirical claim with no value judgement attached is determined to be ‘hateful conduct’ by Twitter. The platform most used by journalists to communicate and counter ‘fake news’ also actively punishes individuals for communicating truths when they are deemed politically inconvenient.”
The stat that Ngo is citing does, in fact, come from the HRC’s own numbers.
As outlined by Federalist writer Chad Felix Greene, the black community’s issues with transphobia are amongst the worst in the country, along with the Hispanic community. Greene uses data made available from HRC reports in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.
“Of the 118 listed cases from 2015 to 2019, 52 have known murderers. The above chart reveals that the racial identity of the victim and the murderer seem entirely irrelevant to the murder motivation,” writes Greene.
“While 67 percent of the victims are indeed black, and the majority are trans women, as reported, the majority of their killers are black as well. This is true for white victims and a single Native American victim who was murdered by a Native American killer. In the 2016 case of Brandi Bledsoe, the murderers were both black and white and were also trans women.”
These stats are backed up by individual cases as well. Detroit, for example, is a city which has ranked amongst the highest in violence for decades. As documented by BuzzFeed: “Nowhere do the violence and homicides [against trans women] appear as concentrated as the Palmer Park area in Detroit” Detroit is 84 percent black in demographics, with the majority of crime being black-on-black.
The far-left extremist group Antifa receives support from The Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAN). They have also commended and disseminated far-left conspiracy theories.
In an article in The Federalist, CAN’s relationship with Antifa was uncovered, in which the organization’s members were found to be supporting Antifa by advising and protecting the extremist group in the media.
The latest example involved free-speech rally in Hamilton that took place on Mohawk College’s campus. The event was organized jointly by Dave Rubin and Maxime Bernier. Before the rally was held, a member of CAN published an op-ed in a local newspaper where they demanded the group be de-platformed. This was because the rally was allegedly “ushering people into the neo-Nazi movement.”
Following this op-ed, Rubin claims Antifa activists threatened the venue and its participants, resulting in higher security costs.
“They absolutely got threats which is why the security fee was increased. Also at the event itself there were clearly plenty of threats outside,” Rubin told The Post Millennial.
College spokesperson Bill Steinburg told the CBC Mohawk did not receive any threats to cancel the event.
When the rally began, Antifa activists appeared and subsequently gained nation-wide attention when they refused to allow an elderly woman with a walker to cross the street. They did so by blocking her path so they had sufficient time to scream, “nazi scum” at her. They refused to listen to the women and were thus unaware that her family had fought against the Nazis in World War Two.
When The Post Millennial approached CAN for a comment, they responded by saying that the op-ed “wasn’t what alerted anti-fascists to the event. Organizing was already underway–which we had absolutely no involvement with.” The CAN spokesman went on to say that “I didn’t say the rally was ushering people to neo-Nazism, but that a study analyzing 79 million comments and 330,000 videos found that Rubin is part of a radicalization process on Youtube … my intention in the op-ed is quite obviously to have Mohawk make the principled decision not to host the event.”
CAN’s executive director Evan Balgord has also provided advice to the extremist group, stating that they should be “media aware” in response to the group harassing an elderly woman. When The Post Millennial approached Balgord for comment, he did not address the tweet, stating instead that he “condemned what happened.”
More seriously, however, the Chairman of the CAN, Bernie Farber, praised a journalist’s lauding of Antifa’s “muscular resistance”.
When Balgord was asked about the allegation from The Federalist that Farber himself praised Anitfa’s use of “muscular resistance,” he said, “Bernie didn’t say that. You’re quoting Bernie [Farber] quoting [another journalist]. Further, muscular does not necessarily equal violence. Farber is quite explicitly anti-violence, and any implication to the contrary is defamatory.”
Nevertheless, Farber quoted the journalist’s comments and then went on to praise the journalist who said it, saying “the understanding [the journalist] brings to a difficult issue is well worth your read.”
Farber has also been tied to people who promote extremist ideology and has protected individuals who preach hate. Earlier this October, for instance, Farber spoke at an event with Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) speakers, which has been described by Canadian Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith as a “hateful and racist movement that singles out Israel.” The Centre for Israel and Jewish affairs describes BDS as “antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism.”
Additionally, Farber has regularly defended allegedly anti-Semitic individuals. In one case, Farber stated that an Imam who said “slay them one by one and spare not one of them. Oh Allah! Purify Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews,” had been treated unfairly.
When approached with this, the CAN spokesman said “At the time it was believed to be a mistranslation–I don’t know that it’s possible to know the truth of that one way or another given the different interpretations by different linguists … that’s the information Bernie [Farber] had.”
Balgord has a history of defending Antifa. In a blog post, he defended the amorphous organization by stating that there were “many examples of anti-fascists (Antifa) using violence to protect other protesters.” Balgord proceeded to state that the media presented “a distorted image of the movement.” He also co-wrote an article for Rabble with Kevin Metcalf, one of the protesters arrested by Hamilton Police three weeks ago for allegedly attacking a man at the aforementioned free speech rally.
In response to this, Balgord stated that he was a “proud supporter of the anti-fascist movement [not to be confused with the extremist Antifa group]. The vast majority of violence at the many Canadian demonstrations I have attended or reviewed footage of is began [sic] by supporters and sympathizers of hate groups, not anti-fascists.”
On writing an article with Metcalf, Balgord stated that “Metcalf is not affiliated with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, but I wish him the best of luck with his charges.”
For some context, U.S. Antifa has assaulted prominent journalist Andy Ngo (who is also now The Post Millennial’s Editor-at-large), leaving him with a brain bleed. The Canadian branch of Antifa has also attacked independent journalists in Quebec City. In response to this event, Antifa stated that “sometimes, it is necessary to go against what the mainstream considers ‘acceptable,’ to break the law in order to do the ethical thing.”
South of the Canadian border, Antifa has been criticized for its intimidation of broadcasters with the intent to de-platform speakers. They are also known to disseminate malicious conspiracy theories and attack innocent bystanders. Public intellectual Noam Chomsky has described Antifa as a “major gift” to the right.
Concerning the malicious conspiracy theories, the “Yellow Vests Exposed group,” who call themselves “CAN contributors,” have also encouraged outlandish conspiracy theories. This includes the organization repeatedly stating that “Andy Ngo is a threat to our community and provides kill lists to Atomwaffen” on Twitter without any evidence.
Balgord stood by these unproven claims. “It [was] not a conspiracy. Andy Ngo is dangerous and by pushing that non-study he got journalists on a kill list.”
This conspiracy theory has been widely disproven. Claire Lehmann, the editor of the magazine that published this article, has gone on record stating that “Andy Ngo played no role in the production of this article.” As well as this, Lehmann stated that “the whole situation is absurd … and [the kill list] has no connection to Quillette.”
CAN are only too eager to label conservative figures and groups as “far-right.” In a report, for instance, CAN stated that there were 300 hate groups in Canada. According to their arithmetic, there are 160 percent more hate groups in Canada than the U.S. per capita.
Clarification: An earlier version of this article claimed Mohawk College received threats before the Rubin interview with Bernier took place on the campus, in part from an op-ed written by CAN’s Evan Balgord. Balgord brought to The Post Millennial‘s attention that Mohawk College spokesperson Bill Steinburg told CBC there were no threats received. Rubin maintains otherwise, telling The Post Millennial: “They absolutely got threats which is why the security fee was increased. Also at the event itself there were clearly plenty of threats outside.” All of this has been added to the article to clarify the differing accounts of what happened.