NPR Really Blew It With This False Claim About Louisville Vehicle Attack

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Posted: Jun 22, 2020 8:55 AM
NPR Really Blew It With This False Claim About Louisville Vehicle Attack

After widespread backlash, NPR deleted and corrected a Twitter post that falsely accused a woman of being a right-wing extremist who plowed her vehicle into protesters. In reality, she was the victim of an attack by rioters and was trying to escape.

A video clip of the attack that took place in Louisville, Kentucky, was caught on camera showing exactly what happened. Police are not charging the woman, but two of the rioters will face charges.

In a story headlined “Vehicle Attacks Rise As Extremists Target Protesters,” NPR used a screen shot from the video. “Right-wing extremists are turning cars into weapons, with reports of 50 vehicle-ramming incidents since protests erupted nationwide in late May,” the tweet said.

Too bad that’s not what happened at all.

Louisville Metro Police said Thursday that the driver who ran over a protester in downtown Louisville has come forward to police and won't face any charges.

But two protesters are. […]

Police said protesters had blocked the intersection, standing in front of the woman’s car with a megaphone.

During a verbal altercation between the driver and the protesters, someone ripped out one of the driver’s dreadlocks.

When someone pulled a gun, the driver sped off and struck a protester.

When she stopped at a red light a block later, someone pointed a gun at her.

Police said that man was 21-year-old Darius Anderson, who allegedly passed the gun off to 19-year-old Brioanna Richards.

Both are charged with rioting, disorderly conduct and obstructing a highway.

Anderson faces additional charges of first-degree wanton endangerment. (WAVE 3)

NPR finally issued a correction, writing: "Note: A previous version of this post and story included a photo of a protester being struck by a car in Louisville, Kentucky. The photo, chosen by editors, does not appear to be an example of the assaults described in the story, and has been replaced."

As The Federalist noted, the tweet isn't the only problematic part of the story.

The article claimed, with scarce evidence, that murdering protesters with cars is increasingly supported by “mainstream Republican and conservative spaces.”

It also included a deceptive count of the number of actual far-right attacks. NPR tweeted that “Right-wing extremists are increasingly turning cars to weapons, with reports of 50 vehicle ramming incidents since protests began nationwide in late May.” Yet the article could only cite one incident where the driver was connected to a extremist group. Furthermore, the majority (32) of the 50 cases cited have had no charges, with the collisions being confirmed or considered likely accidental.

NPR also included a Minneapolis semi incident in its “50 vehicle ramming incidents.” There, a truck driver was named a murderous white supremacist by the media and politicians for days after nearly striking demonstrators blocking a highway.

A later investigation revealed the incident had been entirely an accident. The man was no white supremacist, and was trying to get fuel to one of the last gas stations open in the city. As of writing, the article, and the count, remain up on NPR. (The Federalist)

To "prove" their point, the editors changed the photo to one from the 2017 Charlottesville car attack, even though the very first sentence of the story is about the alleged uptick in vehicle-ramming incidents "since protests against police violence erupted nationwide in late May."