A riot broke out in Atlanta after an Antifa member was shot by police on Jan. 18. So, of course, the activist media had to fire up the gaslight. After shooting at Georgia state troopers, and wounding one, at a protest against the Atlanta Police Foundation’s public safety training center nicknamed “Cop City,” 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran was killed by return fire. The protest turned riot, and the press response invoked memories of coverage of the national unrest after the death of George Floyd in 2020. But rather than attempt to ignore the damage by calling it a “mostly peaceful” demonstration, CNN and freelance reporter David Peisner opted to redefine violence to exclude property damage.
So much for that unbiased reportage the network’s new leadership promised.
The Great Atlanta Gaslight
On Jan. 21, Peisner appeared on CNN Newsroom to discuss the incident in Atlanta. What followed was a clear attempt to gaslight the audience into believing the riot wasn’t violent because people simply misunderstand what the term means.
“I think that there’s a real blurring of the lines in the use of the word violence,” he said. “Is property destruction violence? To some people certainly it is. But, you know, this idea that breaking windows or other acts of property destruction are the same as actual violence against humans, it’s kind of a dangerous and slippery slope.”
“You keep using these words ‘violent, violent, violent, violent’ … The only acts of violence against people that I saw were actually police tackling protesters,” he continued before downplaying the protest group’s connection to the man who was killed. Peisner described the group of rioters as “small” and not affiliated with the Defend the Atlanta Forest movement, which sought to memorialize Teran. “As the chief himself said, this is a small group,” he argued. “Also, within this ‘Defend the Forest’ movement, there are no leaders, so people kind of go off and do their own thing.”
Peisner was lambasted on the web and airwaves for the obvious attempt to convince people they didn’t see what they clearly saw. Footage of rioters attacking police officers and their cars has been spread all over social media. Even Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, a Democrat, lashed out at those attempting to downplay the violence, declaring that six of those involved in the riot would face domestic terrorism charges.
During an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation on January 22, Dickens noted that some of those involved with the protests had explosives, burned down a police car, and broke windows at businesses. He explained:
“And so our police department, along with our state and federal partners, took swift action within two blocks and brought that situation under control. And the violence stopped, and those six individuals were arrested … And so, we love to support people when they’re doing right, peaceful protest is a part of the American — our freedoms, but when you are violent, we will make sure that you get held accountable.”
When asked whether he concurred with the idea that the violence should be seen as domestic terrorism, he mayor affirmed that the offenses “range from violence to domestic terrorism to assault battery, and some other things. But yes, it is violent when someone turns to burn down a police car or break out windows or have explosives on them. I don’t get into the names. I don’t know all the organizations. I’ll y’all decide who did it. I just know they’re arrested. And if they come into Atlanta, again, to wreak havoc, they will be arrested again.”
The Defend the Atlanta Forest website declares: “The Atlanta Police Department seeks to turn 300 acres of forest into a tactical training compound featuring a mock city. This project was announced to the shock of community members who had been given no opportunity to weigh in on the proposal. The entire process has been shadier than the forest itself.”
According to law enforcement, police came across Teran in a tent in the South River Forest during the protest. The protester then supposedly shot at a state trooper “without warning.” Officers returned fire, and Teran was killed. The wounded officer was hit in the abdomen but was reportedly to be in stable condition.
Do They Even Care?
Dickens did not downplay the cold facts of the Atlanta clashes, but it’s clear the leftists’ tendency to gaslight when it comes to riots and other high-profile issues show that they care more about advancing an agenda than addressing a real problem. Their willingness to lie to the public, whitewashing left-wing political violence, has real ramifications for those living in these areas.
During the George Floyd Riots, the activist media engaged in the same behavior, telling the world that the unrest was “mostly peaceful.” Sure, many protests didn’t devolve into violence. Those that did, however, caused untold damage, primarily to the very black communities progressives claim to champion. And yes, there was loss of life in these so-called “mostly peaceful” protests. More than 20 people were killed in the chaos.
Why do those in the activist media continue to gaslight rather than accurately inform? Where are the media champions dedicated to speaking power to truth? It cannot be a surprise that the public no longer trusts the press when members of the once-vaunted Fourth Estate focus more on influencing than informing.
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