Here we go again…
NOTE: More on this story which has been picked up by the New York Times HERE.
And even more HERE.
Yesterday, I wrote about how Americans for Prosperity representatives helped knock down their own tent on the grounds of the Michigan State Capitol building during an anti-Right to Work for Less rally there. Subsequent to posting that piece, I was alerted to comments on Reddit by user “mtalna”. You can read those comments HERE. What is evident from the comments is that there is a lot of editing that has gone on with the videos Fox News is now running in nearly constant rotation making it look like all of the violence and hostility at the rally yesterday came from union members. As it turns out, significant portions of it were faked and creative Breitbart-style editing helped it along much more.
This morning I spoke with “mtalna”. “mtalana” is Matt Allen from Fowlerville, MI. He’s an 18-year college student and not a union member. He assisted me in putting this piece together and was present for the conversation that happens in the first minutes of the first video below.
Here’s the first, highly edited video which ends with Fox News contributor Steven Crowder getting punched by some union protesters:
This video is actually a composite of things that happened over the course of the day, many of them hours apart. The initial conversation happened early in the morning. At about 0:16, it cuts to Crowder saying, “You’ve already destroyed one tent, leave this one alone.” That happened hours after the interview with the union workers that starts the segment. The guy he’s talking to is standing quite a distance from the tent but Crowder insists that he’s somehow tearing down the tent.
Selective editing at about 0:39 mark shows what appears to be union guy attacking Crowder for no apparent reason. However, if you look closely, you’ll see that the guy is getting up off the ground — that he was NOT the one that became aggressive first.
At about 1:13, as the tent is coming down, Crowder comes over to the cameraman and waves him off as if to say, “that’s enough filming.” The reason for this becomes clear if you watch this longer, less edited version of the video:
What they apparently don’t want you to see is union members using knives to cut the tent open to let people inside out. Rather, the message that is being sent by the conservative media and blogosphere is that the union members deliberately cut the tent to pieces in an act of malicious vandalism. As Matt Allen points out in his comments HERE, the union members actually ask, “Is everybody out?” and then proceed to make sure that they are.
At 1:49 in the longer video, one union members notes that an AFP guy has a gun and brags that he’s “killed plenty of mother fuckers with a gun” (i.e., he’s killed people who were in possession of guns.) This is being played up as if a UNION MEMBER had a gun. Not true.
If you want to see a blatant act of theater on Crowder’s part, keep watching that segment. At 2:07, Crowder asks the cameraman “are you recording this?” The cameraman answers, “Yes”, then Crowder acts as if he’s being roughly shoved back into the crowd unprovoked. If you watch closely, the guy who supposedly pushed him has his hands by his side.
UPDATE: It appears that Crowder was actually pulled back by a protester in that segment which is not evident in the longer video but IS evident in the shorter, edited video. My apology for the error and thanks to those in the comments who pointed it out to me.
For those who have accused me of defending violence by union members, I don’t. It pisses me off to no end that these people allowed themselves to be manipulated by Americans for Prosperity and Fox News and incited into doing stupid shit that gives ALL union members a bad name even though the stupid shit was done by only a small handful out of the 15,000+ people that attended the rally and behaved perfectly calm.
That said, there is no question in my mind whatsoever that AFP and Fox employees set out to incite a huge crowd of very angry people. My wife Anne spoke to a number of union members yesterday who spoke about their fear of the future. They are barely making ends meet now and, with the passage of Right to Work for Less laws, they will now have even less of an opportunity to improve their situation. They are afraid and they are angry and Americans for Prosperity sticking their thumb into their eye fans the flames. They had two HUGE tents taking up space in the middle of the Capitol grounds that were largely empty throughout most of the day.
Allen told me that Crowder uses a technique of intentionally invading your personal space to make you uncomfortable and then peppers you with questions to make you angry. It is an intentional act to incite an angry response. The Capitol grounds were a tinderbox of angry folks and both AFP and Fox News tossed a lit match into it and then blamed the wood for catching fire.