Fox News on Tuesday published a thinly sourced story, “Antifa arrests coming, concerns over riots heading to suburbia, government source says,” clearly meant to stoke panic as civil unrest continues about police brutality throughout the country. But even a deep reading into Fox’s own story will show that the network knows this is a hoax meant to spread fear and justify President Donald Trump’s effort to declare the loosely affiliated “antifa” a terrorist organization, and the administration’s efforts to discredit the protests at large.
Agitators behind the rioting that has paralyzed the country over the past week want to move into more suburban areas, a government intelligence source has told Fox News.
Much of the worry stems from the notion that many in well-armed, suburban, and rural neighborhoods won't hesitate to exercise their Second Amendment rights and elevated anxieties could lead to heavy confrontation.
“Antifa knows this," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Local and state authorities have to get a grip on this because if it moves to the suburbs, more people will die."
It was only in the 15th paragraph that readers were told what is actually going on with this particular online scare — that white supremacists are kicking it up in order to spur local communities to more violence: “Twitter said Tuesday that it had suspended the account of a white supremacist group for spreading discord and disinformation across the social media platform, using the ‘Antifa_US’ umbrella and threatening to go into the ‘white hoods.’”
The article continued: “Law enforcement officials have also stressed that much of criminal activity and stealing is also stemming from opportunistic individuals with no greater intention than to steal and wreak havoc, with no broader ideological leanings.”
The Associated Press reported that Twitter on Monday took down a false “tweet promising antifa would ‘move into residential areas’ and ‘white’ neighborhoods,” which it reported was “sent by the white supremacy group Identity Evropa.” However, “the tweet continued to circulate Tuesday on Facebook and Instagram.”
In addition, Fox Nation host Lara Logan was called out Tuesday by Will Sommer of The Daily Beast for using a long-discredited hoax from 2015 about a supposed antifa strategy “document.”
Reuters has also reported on an intelligence assessment showing only “limited evidence that organized extremists are behind the turmoil.” And while there were allegations of both far-right and far-left elements stoking further tensions, according to Reuters, “U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said most of the violence appears to have been driven by opportunists.”
In the meantime, these disinformation tweets about a supposed antifa invasion of the suburbs have had real effects in terms of inciting panic:
Fox has also been glorifying the Trump administration’s violent attack Monday against peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C., to clear the area for his photo opportunity outside a church. And while mainstream media outlets have failed to adequately address police escalation as a major factor in the violence that has broken out, Fox has treated police violence against demonstrators as a tautological proof that the protesters had deserved it.
The network’s voices now claim to support peaceful demonstrations, but this, too, follow years of their hypocritical condemnations of nonviolent protests over issues affecting minority communities.