New York Times Portrays San Francisco Anarchist As Embattled Journalist

A full court press is underway to re-brand self described anarchist Josh Wolf as an embattled journalist who is being wrongly imprisoned for refusing to "divulge his sources". Wolf, whose pen name is "insurgent" on his new blog The Revolution Will Be Televised, has been sitting behind bars on and off for a total of 169 days as of Tuesday February 6th. (Wolf's old blog at comes complete with the header "I live in San Francisco. I'm an artist, an activist, an anarchist and an archivist; this is my videoblog.").

Here is how the New York Times is describing him:

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 5 — A freelance videographer who refused to cooperate with a grand jury investigation will become the longest incarcerated journalist in modern American history on Tuesday. The freelancer, Josh Wolf, will pass Vanessa Leggett, an investigator and a journalist who served 168 days in 2001 and 2002 for refusing to surrender information in a murder case.

The case stems from the violent anti-G8 protest that occurred in San Francisco on July 8th 2005. The protest was billed as the “West Coast Anti-Capitalist Convergence and March against the G8” and was scheduled to coincide with similar protests that were arranged in Europe. Participants included the usual suspects such as the Indy Media satellite group IndyBay and your typical anarchist organizing groups such as Anarchist Action.

Unfortunately the anarchists did what anarchists tend to do when they gather en masse; they worked themselves up into a frenzy, became violent, broke windows, burned flags, started various fires and attacked a cop who suffered a skull fracture when the crowd turned on him and a police car.

Wolf who attended the event in a dual role as participant and video blogger captured the carnage on tape which he edited and provided to the media as a protest video which was happily gobbled up for consumption on the nightly news.

Now federal prosecutors want to see the rest of the tape as evidence of crimes that occurred when the angry mob turned violent. But Wolf is playing the part of petulant little anarchist by refusing to turn it over by claiming that the tape shows no crimes and he is simply protecting his sources. This despite the fact that even the ultra-liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that journalists are not immune from Grand Jury subpoenas when done in good faith.

I can only imagine why the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets have glommed onto the portrayal of Wolf as a simple journalist who is just doing his job. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wolf is a videoblogger who goes out of his way to participate in anarchist style protests that are designed by nature to undermine authority. When these events go bad and arrests ensue Wolf is there to videotape the event so he can edit it up and present the anarchist point of view that usually starts with the assumption of police brutality. He is no more of a journalist than an ambulance chaser is a creator of news.

The branding of Wolf as a journalist by the mainstream media is symptomatic of their unbridled activism, intellectual dishonesty and blatant hypocrisy. On the one hand they repeatedly ridicule bloggers as pajama clad morons but quickly change their tune when the blogger is a self proclaimed anarchist doing the bidding of the lefts anti-war, anti-capitalist, anti-establishment activist base. This point is easily evidenced by the fact that the New York Times doesn't even mention any variation of the word anarchist when they present the homogenized portrayal of Wolf.

Which begs the question, when does a blogger become a journalist? The defense claims he became a journalist when various mainstream media sources paid Wolf for his video footage. Wouldn't that make every Tom, Dick and Harry with a camera in an opportune moment a journalist?

This whole slimy event should make people take notice of what is happening to the mainstream media at the hands of the professional activists who are shaping the news rather than reporting it. The line between professional journalism and activist storytelling has become so hazy that it is now acceptable to portray propagandists as journalists and their productions as news. How much lower can the press go?

Other Examples of the press trying to turn Josh Wolf into a hero :

Terry Trippany is the Editor and Technical Developer at Webloggin