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WOODTV8 uses far right sources to demonize anti-racist and anti-fascist movements

July 10, 2020

WOODTV8 has done it again, broadcasting stories that are sensationalist and full of misinformation. On Monday, we posted a deconstruction of a WOODTV8 story that essentially provided a White Supremacist group with free airtime. 

Last night, WOODTV8 once again engaged is shoddy journalism that was meant as clickbait, but failed to actually inform the public. The first story was framed as Riots Revealed: Follow the Money, a Target 8 investigative story, which investigates nothing. The story begins with the newsreader saying that a month after rioting in Grand Rapids, “suspicion lingers,” and then states that the news station found out that a group was bailing out those charged with rioting. 

This supposed investigative story wants viewers to believe that they uncovered who bailed out people charged with rioting, when in fact, the Michigan Solidarity Bail Fund has been very public on social media for more than a month. GRIID even posted a story on the Michigan Solidarity Bail Fund on June 2, primarily because GRIID supports the recent uprising and those who have participated in the uprising, which includes bailing people out of jail. 

WOODTV8 reporter Susan Samples begins her expose by talking about how a few key strokes can create a conspiracy or reveal truths. In one of the images used in the video b-roll you can see the name Andy Ngo and on the WOODTV post about this story, it shows that the channel 8 reporter was relying on Andy Ngo for information about someone the news station believes is behind the bail fund. The thing is, Andy Ngo is a fascist, a supporter of the Proud Boys and other far right groups, plus he has made it his mission to promote misinformation about antifa. This claim is supported by numerous independent news sources, like the Jacobin, Rolling Stones Magazine and Media Matters.

The channel 8 story then spends the rest of the time trying to get information a person that was outed by Andy Ngo and then seeks to frame the rest of the story as if WOODTV8 is really trying to get to the bottom of something. They aren’t. Instead, whether intentional or not, WOODTV8 has demonized a human being just because they believe in bailing out people who were arrested during the May 30 uprising in Grand Rapids. In addition, WOODTV8 provides far right groups and state forces – cops, prosecutors, etc – with information that will do nothing other than cause harm to people who are deeply committed to anti-racism and anti-fascist organizing.

In the follow up story, WOODTV8 then does a story on antifa and talks to someone from Saginaw claiming that are part of antifa. 

The story that aired last night, begins with anti-antifa propaganda, including Trump denouncing the group. This sets the tone for the whole story, which has little to do with illuminating information on the anti-fascist movement. This sensationalized story is really about trying to frame antifa as an extremist group, instead of digging into its history, which has been explored by people like Mark Bray, author of the book Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.

However, WOODTV8 prefers sensationalism, since the news stations is driven by ratings and understands that it’s primary viewing demographic are white, middle class people.

During this “expose on antifa,” channel 8 actually uses commentary from Ryan Kelly, a white supremacist with the American Patriot Rally, who has organized numerous anti-lockdown protests in Lansing, one in Grand Rapids and brought heavily armed white guys to Allendale to intimidate people who were protesting the Civil War monument.

In the rest of the channel 8 story, the reporter seeks to sensationalize antifa as extremist, even using the FBI as a source about antifa. The questions asked by the reporter of the person claiming to be part of antifa are leading and ridiculous, always using words like extremist and violence, along with video b-roll of property destruction. Viewers of this story could not come away with any real information on what antifa is, nor its history.

It’s bad enough that WOODTV8 provided free airtime to White Supremacist at the beginning of the week, only to end the end with two stories that furthers a far right agenda by demonizing people who are anti-racists and potentially providing law enforcement agencies with more information and more justification to target anti-racists and anti-fascists.

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