A Tale of Two Protests: Minnesota Rioters Vs. Anti-Lockdown Protesters

May 29th, 2020 5:08 PM

When the protests against the senseless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis started to turn violent, CNN’s Don Lemon insisted on still labelling the rioters and looters as mere “protesters.” MSNBC’s  Ali Velshi — with a burning building behind him — told viewers “This is mostly a protest. It is not generally speaking unruly.” 

This is in stark contrast to the coverage given to the largely peaceful rallies by anti-lockdown protesters who just wanted to go back to work and had rebelled against extremely restrictive policies in states like Michigan. These protestors were smeared as “racist” “threatening” and compared to Neo-Nazis. 

The following are just a few of the worst examples of network and cable journalists deriding the lockdown protesters: 


Smearing the Lockdown Protesters As Racist



“There are growing concerns this morning over who is turning out for demonstrations against public safety measures in the coronavirus crisis. Protesters swarmed Michigan’s state capitol again yesterday over statewide stay-at-home orders. Some of them had guns, big guns. The state’s governor says she’s concerned about possible racist elements among the crowd. Jericka Duncan reports on what some say is a pattern of very unsettling incidents.”
— Co-host Gayle King on CBS This Morning, May 15. 

“A third protest at the Michigan state capitol Thursday as demonstrators there continue to rebel against the governor’s coronavirus restrictions. This time, a fight broke out between demonstrators over a doll with a noose around its neck....It comes two weeks after protesters, some armed, walked into the capitol building in another attempt to rally against the state's shutdown….In Chicago, a photo of a woman holding a sign with the phrase similar to the one displayed over the gates of several concentration camps has gone viral.”
— Correspondent Jericka Duncan on CBS This Morning, May 15.  


Are Michigan Protesters Like Neo-Nazis? 



“What did you make of the protesters with firearms inside the state Capitol? I know some Democratic lawmakers expressed concern, and fear even….These protests came after President Trump tweeted ‘Liberate Michigan.’...He said that these are very good people about the protesters that were featured in the video, to which the executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, Halie Soifer, who’s from Lansing, Michigan, she compared those comments to President Trump referring to those marching alongside neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as very fine people. Is that how you see these protesters, in that vein, in that extreme?”
— Host Jake Tapper to Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on CNN’s State of the Union, May 3. 


Urging Arrest of Lockdown Protesters



“I want to talk to you about these demonstrators that I saw over the weekend in your state capitol, a number of them armed. I remember vividly a few years ago being in Ferguson, Missouri and protestors there, many of them protesting, they weren’t armed, they were referred to as thugs. These men and women, many of them carrying flags, walking around with their guns in your state capitol, not adhering to social distancing orders. They would appear to be in violation of a number of laws. Why weren’t they arrested?”
— Co-host Craig Melvin to Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on NBC’s Today, May 5. 


Angered by “Alarming and Disturbing” Protesters

“There is so much that is alarming and disturbing about the anti-lockdown protesters who are rallying against stay-at-home orders in their states. They wave Confederate flags, they are sometimes heavily armed looking like a gun-toting militia. They don’t wear masks and they scream with their unmasked faces into the faces of police officers, who are also often not wearing masks….These angry spittle-flecked, mostly men, mostly white, spewing respiratory droplets and indignation are becoming a thing…. Some of them armed to the teeth like they’re going to war, in the face of officers and officers are quite casual about that.”
— Host Joy Reid on AM Joy, May 9. 


Worried About Whitmer’s Safety



Co-host Sunny Hostin: “Governor, you know, I was really struck by the fact that you have described the protests as some of the worst racism and awful parts of our history, and you even said there were swastikas, confederate flags and nooses present. On a recent call, you asked Vice President Pence if he could discourage the protesters. Do you think you will get his support and given Trump's tweets to liberate Michigan, make a deal with protesters, do you feel the administration is helping fuel the fire here?”...
Co-host Sara Haines: “You have become the target of vicious, violent private Facebook groups that say you should be beaten and lynched. Some of those people plan to attend a rally at the state capitol this Thursday, and also this week, the capitol commission delayed the decision on banning firearms. Are you at all fearful for your personal safety?”
— Questions to Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on ABC’s The View, May 13.

“And once again today you saw the tweet from the president today, calling those armed protesters who stormed Michigan’s capitol very good people. He wants the governor to give into them. How about that? He says talk with them. They’re good. Because he’s so inviting of dissent, right? The man who condemns everyone and every institution that does anything but what he wants. Good people with AR-15s in tow because you need that to protest. Just like Charlottesville, this President is forgiving of bad actions because he thinks it is good for him.”
— Host Chris Cuomo on CNN’s Cuomo PrimeTime, May 1.


Fearful of Radicalized Protesters 



Daily Beast columnist Margaret Carlson: “A demonstration is no different than any other media availability. There it is, he [Donald Trump] takes advantage of it. And that these weren’t armed protesters. He — by the way — has called them good. Even though they’re threatening — they’re standing in Lansing, Michigan, in front of the state capitol armed to the teeth threatening the governor to the point where she’s had to retreat back into her office with more guards.”
Host Brian Stelter: “I think it’s a sign of radicalization. And I’m not saying this involves all Trump supporters, it doesn’t. It doesn’t involve all Michiganders or Long Islanders. But we have seen a segment of society radicalized.”
— CNN’s Reliable Sources, May 17.