When I rambled on the other day about fake news, trolls and the facts of life, I found myself writing about how you can get exciting news on Twitter which does not always pan out factually.
The news I had picked up on involved a right-wing group called Proud Boys, categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. An incendiary leader of the group, Gavin McInnis, had been invited into New York City by the local GOP to give a talk at a Republican Club on the Upper East Side.
According to the Twitter feeds (a) unknown people defaced the building before the event and tossed in a political screed; (b) about 80 anti-protestors showed up; and (c) after the event, some Proud Boys followed, beat up and kicked some protestors — recorded on cell phone video — yet NYPD was said to do nothing except arrest a couple of protestors.
But my two local papers, the Times and the Daily News did not report the beating, except to note some minor skirmish.
I offered this as a lesson in separating facts from provocative but perhaps inaccurate news.
I was wrong. Because now both the Times and the Daily News* have published follow-up articles confirming the beatings, and NYPD issued a tweet saying it was investigating.
Here’s what the Times opened with:
A brawl outside a Republican club in Manhattan involving a far-right group and anti-fascist activists spurred calls over the weekend for an investigation into the violence and whether the police handled it properly. Some Democratic politicians, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, also criticized the club for inviting the founder of the far-right group, the Proud Boys.
Mr. Cuomo said he has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into the violence that accompanied Friday’s appearance at the Metropolitan Republican Club by Gavin McInnes, a right-wing provocateur. He also assigned a State Police hate crimes unit to assist with the New York Police Department’s investigation of the fighting, which he linked to President Trump.
So maybe I have to fine-tune the rule: if you hear provocative news and you can’t confirm it in your newspaper(s), wait a couple of days to see what happens.
*I’m still trying to figure out how to link Daily News stories and/or copy paragraphs.