Meet the Riot Squad: Right-Wing Reporters Whose Viral Videos Are Used to Smear BLM - 2021-05-13
Over the past year, as I researched viral clips of contested incidents at protests against racist policing and far-right movements, I found that I was coming across the names of the same handful of videographers again and again. At protests in Minneapolis, Dallas, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Louisville, Philadelphia, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, I discovered that many of the most viral clips were shot by a handful of field reporters for right-wing sites or freelancers with conservative politics.
Rosas and Ventura are not household names, but it's important to understand their reporting, because they are members of an informal club of right-wing video journalists who roam from city to city, feeding the conservative media's hunger for images of destruction and violence on the margins of left-wing protests.
In the year since George Floyd's murder by Derek Chauvin was documented in horrifying detail on the cellphone of a 17-year-old witness, Darnella Frazier, right-wing news outlets and politicians have been desperate to draw attention away from those unbearable images by focusing instead on viral videos of unrest at racial justice protests. That's been a boon for the careers of conservative video journalists like Rosas, Ventura, and a half-dozen of their friends, who jokingly call themselves the #RiotSquad in Instagram selfies and podcast banter.