According to some leftists and media figures, Andy Ngo isn’t a journalist, but clearly the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker disagrees.
The cataloger of press-freedom violations added to its list Wednesday the assault by antifa activists on Mr. Ngo, an editor for Quillette, as he filmed last weekend’s counter-protest in Portland, Oregon.
While the tracker acknowledged that some consider Mr. Ngo “more of a provocateur than journalist,” citing a Vox article, the organization concluded that the incident met its criteria for both “physical attack” and “equipment damage.”
“For the purposes of the Tracker, Ngo identifies as a journalist, has a track record of publication and was in the process of documenting when he was attacked,” said the group on its website.
The tracker, run by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and Committee to Protect Journalists, works in collaboration with a host of leading journalism entities, including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; American Society of News Editors; Columbia Journalism Review; Poynter Institute, and Reporters Without Borders.
Mr. Ngo said his GoPro was stolen and he was hospitalized for injuries, including a brain hemorrhage, after he was beaten and pelted with milkshakes and eggs by black-masked activists, as shown on video by the Oregonian’s Jim Ryan.
“Ngo is an out-spoken critic of antifa and has covered antifa demonstrations and protests since 2016, primarily publishing the videos taken on his GoPro to Twitter and YouTube,” said the website. “Ngo told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he does not wear press identification or badges while covering protests, but openly films and identifies himself as media to those who ask.”
Certainly he was known to Rose City Antifa, which called him a “local far-right Islamophobic journalist” in a post promoting the “call to defend” Portland from a Proud Boys rally.
The day before the rally, Mr. Ngo tweeted he was “nervous,” saying protesters “have singled me out to be assaulted.”
The outrage over the attack spurred a backlash from the left on Mr. Ngo’s journalism bona fides, including suggestions he provoked the attack by filming the anonymous activists, who often resist press coverage that could expose their identities.
“I don’t condone violence and I don’t like to see anyone hurt. But Andy Ngo is as much a journalist as I am a second baseman,” tweeted comedian and television personality Steve Hofstetter.
I’m pretty sure this is a libelous statement from a former Democratic congressional candidate for Colorado. pic.twitter.com/8OAwowFfVu— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) July 3, 2019
I’m not talking about the ethics of punching Andy Ngo! I’m talking about how it’s being misdescribed!— Philosophys Possibly Most Incompetent Grad Student (@christapeterso) July 3, 2019
The supposed public importance of this is based on the claim that Ngo is a journalist, and that is false.
Rose City Antifa also took issue with the journalist label. “Furthermore Andy Ngo is not a journalist. He is a right-wing agitator and active participant in local fascist harassment,” said the group on its Facebook page.
The tracker said it uses a “functional definition of who is a journalist.”
“It doesn’t matter whether the individual has a press pass or went to journalism school, whether they work for The New York Times or work for themselves,” said the website. “What matters is whether the person was performing an act of journalism. The Tracker will count journalists whose rights to gather and disseminate information were violated in the course of their work or as a result of their work.”
J. Alex Tarquinio, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, condemned the Portland attack, saying, “It is simply unconscionable to violently assault anyone exercising their free speech rights by filming or documenting a protest.”
SPJ National President @alextarquinio says about the attack on Andy Ngo, “It is simply unconscionable to violently assault anyone exercising their free speech rights by filming or documenting a protest.” https://t.co/XFSR7qORKW— Society of Professional Journalists (@spj_tweets) July 3, 2019
Mr. Ngo, who regularly records leftist protest activity, has been published in the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, National Review, RealClearPolitics, Daily Wire, Western Journal, American Spectator, and City Journal, according to Muck Rack.
His latest, “A Leftist Mob Attacked Me in Portland,” ran Wednesday on the Wall Street Journal opinion page.
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