NPR Gets Charlottesville 2017 Rally Wrong Again, Lying about Violence from Left

  • NPR reporter misstates, mischaracterizes, and lies about the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally
  • NPR blames rally participants for the deaths of 2 helicopter police, whose deaths have almost no connection to the rally
  • Article also refuses to identify the malicious decisions by Democrats like Terry McAuliffe to cause violence at the rally

OUR RATING: Journalistic Malpractice. Even is ashamed.

Indicted Outlet: Debbie Elliott | National Public Radio | Link | Archive | Aug. 12, 2022

Even though this article is a year old [1], it’s important to challenge the left-wing narrative and lies about Charlottesville’s 2017 “Unite the Right” rally.

The Gateway Pundit obtained, in May 2021, drone footage from Charlottesville that showed that the violence was almost entirely one-sided at Charlottesville by the militant Communist left against the pro-Lee protesters on the political right.[2]

But the power of that basic premise, the basic false narrative from Charlottesville, is combined with repeated lies, distortions, and major misrepresentations by reporters like Debbie Elliott at National Public Radio.

Major Violations:

  • Unbalanced
  • Dishonest Framing
  • Ignoring Primary Sources
  • Scapegoating
  • Opinion as Fact
  • Not Objective
  • Assuming Bad Faith
  • Guilty Grouping
  • Creating False Connections

The lead of the article starts out with some extremely dishonest narrative framing and omissions. Elliott says that taking the Lee statue down was “…part of the town’s reckoning with a fraught racial history.” But Elliott leaves out the fact that across America statues were being torn down, often illegally, in the aftermath of the Dylann Roof shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Supporters of historical preservation and those within Confederate ancestry groups were outraged by the destruction of the statues of their history, which had no connection to Roof’s murders of eight black men and women at a Charlestown church on June 15, 2015. [3]

Almost none of the reporting ever mentions that rally organizer Jason Kessler was feuding with Wes Bellamy on the City Council, where Kessler alleged that Bellamy was racist against whites, and passing policies that discriminated against whites and was out to tear down the Lee Statue illegally. Kessler even filed a recall petition against Bellamy prior to the rally. [4]

Elliott utilizes guilty grouping to make all the people at the Unite the Right rally equivalent to one another with this sentence, “On the night of Aug. 11, 2017, Neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen and other white supremacists marched through the University of Virginia campus bearing torches and terrorizing students with chants of “Blood and soil” and ‘Jews will not replace us.’” No one bothered to survey the Charlottesville rally participants, since there was no registration and it was a public event, so there’s no telling if they were all ‘neo-Nazis’ or if none of them were. It’s just an assumption without evidence, what we call opinion as fact.

Also, about the “Jews will not replace us” chant, Kessler has claimed in interviews that it is a common issue in political movements that, in a form of black humor or maybe gallows humor, change words that sound alike to be more edgy and controversial than they otherwise would be. In this way, Kessler maintains, the media continually takes this infamous chant out of context and uses it as a way to smear the rest of the people present. The crowd was chanting “you will not replace us” is thus turned into an anti-Jewish statement. In any case, with little research, one can find that this chant and claim is in dispute, and its applicability to the entire group, and the associated smear that the entire group shared those views, is likely false.

When a key fact in a story is reasonably in dispute, and a reporter doesn’t even acknowledge that there’s a dispute about the fact, it’s a major omission and a major journalistic crime.

The entire story gets framed through a far-left perspective, a very unbalanced and ungrounded report. The framing allows the demonization of everyone who attended the rally as a Nazi, fascist, bigot, racist, etc., it empowers and enables every far-left statement to be taken as true, it presents opinion as fact.

The reporter then connects David Duke, Donald Trump, and Richard Spencer. The three have little in common, but the reporter deceitfully links the three, and what she is doing is creating false connections.

Elliott then makes it seem as though the pro-Lee protesters were the ones instigating violence. This is not borne out by the drone footage, which shows the exact opposite: leftists and Communists flying the Soviet flag, regularly and repeatedly striking pro-Lee protesters and instigating violence.[2]

In fact, video from the rally shows Corey Long using a makeshift flamethrower on participants entering and exiting the event, with no reaction or involvement from the police. [5] Long was later charged with assault and battery, charges that the prosecutor later dismissed. Long is also on video launching rocks and projectiles at rally participants, but was never charged for those or other incidents, Long would serve 20 days in jail. [6]

Here’s how Elliott handles this in the story:

Gathers was there and says it quickly turned violent.

“They lobbed all manner of things – rocks, soda cans filled with concrete and cement, water bottles filled with urine, tear gas and smoke grenades.”

Gathers says police didn’t intervene until then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and shut down the rally.

She puts 100% of the blame squarely on the pro-Lee protesters.

Elliott also ignores the “stand down” order given to the police on the day of the rally, police who were ordered not to engage and to allow the two warring sides to fight. This material was all covered by former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy [7] who was hired by the City of Charlottesville, reviewed the evidence, and produced the Heaphy report. [8] The Heaphy report highlighted repeated failures and purposeful actions by the Democrat Governor, the Democrat-run City of Charlottesville and Police force, to encourage and push the two sides to fight.

It seems clear in retrospect considered the Heaphy report that, since the left-wing forces were losing court battles to prevent a protest at the Lee Statue, that they, instead, used violence as a pretext to shut down the protest and event. The violence was pushed and promoted by the left-run governmental bodies as a way to constructively deny the freedom of speech rights of the pro-Lee protesters that they had lost in federal court.

Attorney Timothy Heaphy

Elliott continues editorializing with facts not in evidence when she says, “As demonstrators were pushed from the park, they dispersed through town, leading to pockets of violence and ultimately the deadly attack on a group of anti-racists.” What she’s omitting is that many pro-Lee protesters approached police and asked for help getting out of town and were rebuffed.

Many of the pro-Lee protesters were actively trying to avoid a confrontation and were forced to flee and were assaulted anyway. The fights were not caused by the right attacking the left as much as they were chased and assaulted with the official sanction of a police force that was ordered to stand down.

The reader won’t find out about any of this, because Elliott and NPR purposefully keep this and omit it from their stories about the rally.

Elliott continues, “Two state police officers monitoring the scene died in a helicopter crash.” This is so egregiously false that it shows what a dishonest reporter Elliott is. The two officers who died when the helicopter crashed, Henry John Cullen III and Berke Morgan Matthew Bates, were tasked with following Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe’s motorcade when they crashed. Yet for some reason their deaths are continually blamed on half of the rally protesters whom they were observing.

The estates of the two men have repeatedly sued the State of Virginia for negligence. Even though the pro-Lee protesters have publicly been repeatedly blamed for their deaths with no evidence and for no reason, the State of Virginia originally said the crash was due to faulty maintenance on the helicopter by state officials. Then the excuse for the crash changed to pilot error when faced with a complicated wind pattern. The state insists on the latter because it absolves them of civil liability to the families, and the families insist on the faulty maintenance explanation because it provides a path to financial reward. [9][10]

But no one alleges that anyone at the rally did anything to the helicopter or did anything to cause the helicopter crash. There was no indication of foul play. [11] Their deaths had zero relation to the ‘Unite the Right’ rally but the media keeps hyping their deaths regardless of the available evidence.

NPR then makes a connection between Unite the Right rally and January 6th, sloppily comparing the two, “Racial justice advocates see the terror here as a turning point for the country – one that encouraged far right political violence, including the attack on the U.S. Capitol last year.” There’s really no way to connect the two. Of the thousand people indicted for January 6th, none of them have been accused of being Charlottesville rally members or organizers. This is opinion as fact.

The NPR reporter then complains that only James Fields was the one arrested in the aftermath of Charlottesville, “And she grew increasingly frustrated that Fields was the only person arrested in the immediate aftermath of the Unite the Right violence.” Yet there has been almost endless litigation against the rally organizers since then. The reporter then quotes a left-wing rally participant as saying “they had permission to wreak havoc, and that is what they’ve done” yet that is exactly what the Heaphy report addresses: if anyone had ‘permission to wreak havoc’ it was the left-wing counterprotesters.

The NPR Reporter then misstates James Fields’ extreme sentence by misstating that it is just ‘life in prison’ when she writes, “Fields was sentenced to life in prison on state murder and federal hate crime charges.” The truth is that James Fields was sentenced to a life term at both the state and federal level, and was also sentenced to 419 years on top of that. [12]

The evidence of Fields being motivated by ‘hate’ was circumstantial and prejudicial against the views that he held. It mainly derived from one text message Fields sent prior to the rally to his mother. Fields’ mother said that he should be careful when going to a controversial political event, and Fields responded to his mother by saying it’s the other side that should be careful and included a picture of German Dictator Adolf Hitler. Fields’ actions resulted in the death of Heather Heyer and injured 35.

UVA Professor Ian Solomon

NPR quotes a left-wing law professor at the nearby University of Virginia, Ian Solomon, to then say this was all a referendum on democracy itself, “Are the pro-democratic forces and pro-democracy movements going to prevail or not?” This is a matter again of dishonest framing and imaginary monsters. It also presents Solomon’s opinion as fact about abstractions like democracy.

Interestingly, Solomon is a Politics professor and not a law professor, and is currently Dean of the politics department. Also not mentioned in the piece is that Solomon used to work for Barack Obama, which might be relevant in a piece that is as political as this one.[15]

NPR then repeats and amplifies one of the major media malpractice moments in Donald Trump’s term, the ‘very fine people’ hoax and meme.

Here’s what NPR said:

Days later as reporters questioned his response, Trump declared that there were “very fine people on both sides.”

This is completely dishonest as to what Trump actually said. The media spent years dishonestly claiming that Trump said Nazis were ‘very fine people’ when, in fact, he had in the sentence prior specifically excluded them from that group. [13]

Trump was fighting back against the smear campaign against all the pro-Lee protesters. Trump was attempting to undo the media trick of guilty grouping when they smear the entire crowd with the statements, actions, or views of one person in the crowd.

NPR then misstates the evidence in the case further, by claiming that Heyer, who died that day, was ‘run over’ by James Fields.

Here’s NPR/Elliott:

“It was certainly a wake-up call for Susan Bro, who was forced in the most painful way imaginable to understand the consequences of hate when her daughter Heather Heyer was murdered. She comes regularly to the memorial at the spot where Heather was run over, removing dead flowers and making sure the sidewalk is clear.”

Heyer was not “run over” and the injuries she sustained, as evidenced in her autopsy, are unclear and inconclusive. She was not ‘run over’ and that has never been alleged. She may have been hit by the car, or made contact somehow and then died of a heart attack as a result of the melee, but she was not ‘run over.’ This is misrepresenting a source and lying.

It’s important for the militant left to lie on this point, because telling the truth that Heyer died from a heart attack, and was morbidly obese at the time of her death, is not as politically salient and powerful as the false images put forward about Heyer. Heyer, according to the autopsy, died from ‘blunt force trauma’ to her chest. [14] So Heyer, if Fields killed her, made impact with the car but was not ‘run over.’

Heather Heyer, 32, died following a rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Heyer’s autopsy makes it clear that she died from a transected aortic artery caused by trauma, not from being ‘run over.’ Most of her other injuries were minor or largely cosmetic.

NPR has done everyone a major disservice by continuing to lie about even the small details in this case. Some of the lies could be explained by laziness or simply not caring enough about having high journalistic standards, but other lies told are clearly particular and deliberate, evidencing that NPR desires its readers to only know some things that suit their political agenda, and avoid other facts that do not advance their agenda.

Elliott’s reporting matches NPR’s other programming: unreliable, dishonest, disinformation, trash.

OUR RATING: Journalistic Malpractice. Even is ashamed.

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