Former secretary of labor Robert Reich appeared on CNN Tonight last night to spread the unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that the Berkeley riots were a false-flag operation planned in coordination with Breitbart. Anchor Don Lemon started the segment by saying that the rioting “plays right into the hands of the right-wing white supremacists,” and didn’t request any evidence for Reich’s claims.
Breitbart, of course, employs Milo Yiannopoulos, whose visit was rioters’ rallying cry.
Reich proposed that a shadowy group of right-wingers posing as left-wing “anti-fascist” belligerents were responsible. “There’s rumors that they actually were right-wingers,” he suggested. “They were a part of a group that were organized and ready to create the kind of tumult and danger you saw that forced the police to cancel the event.”
Applying the classic tactic of the demagogue, Reich abandoned all journalistic standards with his use the phrase, “there’s rumors.” Moreover, he made a faint appeal to his own on-the-scene reporting by saying, “I was there for part of last night, and I know what I saw, and those people were not Berkeley students.” Of course, it has been widely reported that the “black bloc” rioters were indeed from outside the university, and that they were exploiting the campus event to advance their anti-capitalist “resistance.” They have no connection to Breitbart.
Reich went on: “And I’ve heard — again, I don’t want to say factually, but I’ve heard there was some relationship here between these people and the right wing and the right-wing movement that is affiliated with Breitbart News.”
Alleging that a news organization executed a premeditated attack demands much more than hearsay. But that was all he had. How did host Don Lemon respond to these allegations about Breitbart and their cronies? He said, “It is interesting because there have been protests but nothing this violent. We haven’t seen anything to this level.” Such a comparison might apply to the women’s march, but violence and property destruction is not at all unprecedented in other left-wing riots from recent history.
But Lemon did not acknowledge any of that. He went into the segment looking for reasons to assign blame on Yiannopoulos, and Reich gave him all that and more.