Harvard Kennedy School director says 'riot porn' from 'right-wing' media is responsible for violence
- A Harvard University research director blamed "right-wing" media outlets for the recent violence in the streets.
- The director specifically called out two reporters, one of whom Campus Reform spoke with for his reaction to the criticism.
Research Director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and adjunct lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School Joan Donovan published an op-Ed in the MIT Technology Review titled “How an overload of riot porn is driving conflict in the streets.”
In the piece, Donovan blames left-wing riots in America on "right-wing media makers" and "ring-wing reactionaries.”
She claims that the videos of the riots, as she terms “riot porn,” are “fed into a media ecosystem with an established bias toward highlighting violence and rioting, the videos have mobilized white militia and vigilante groups to take up arms against Black Lives Matter and ‘antifa’ protesters.”
“This feedback circuit has created a self-fulfilling cycle where white vigilantes feel justified in menacing and physically attacking racial justice protesters—and inspire others to do the same,” Donovan states.
Donovan claims that conservative media outlets’ sharing of footage of the violent rioting, is "flipping the script to suggest that Black protesters—demonstrating because they fear police violence—are themselves a threat to white people."
"Militias, MAGA groups, and conspiracists are carrying out their civil war fantasies by attacking Black Lives Matter protesters as police look on,” Donovan stated.
She specifically called out reporters Elijah Schaffer and Any Ngo as "right-wing adversarial media-makers," accusing them of posting “edited” and “decontextualized” footage so that their audience can get their "fix of ‘riot porn.’"
Campus Reform sat down with Schaffer to get his take on what Donovan said about him.
“It’s not like we’re altering the narrative to be something obscure or new. We’re simply choosing to show parts of the narrative that the media intentionally suppresses and tries to pretend don’t exist. So we’re completing the narrative not flipping the script,” Schaffer said.
“I think a better word even than a journalist would just be a reporter because I'm really not telling a story and I think that’s where she gets it wrong. They assume I'm there to tell a story. I just witnessed a lot of criminal activities and I want to provide context,” Schaffer stated.
Donovan says the "motivating factor" behind "riot porn" is "the hope to live out fantasies of taking justice into their own hands."
"In chat rooms, watchers actively cheer as cops and other aggressors brutalize Black Lives Matter activists,” Donovan claims.
Schaffer refuted this claim when he told Campus Reform, “By no means would there be any foundational evidence that recording riots, documenting history is instigating people to take up arms against the rule of law.”
Donovan neglected to highlight the destruction that left-wing rioters have inflicted on America’s cities and instead refers to them as “left-wing social justice advocates.”
“As a scholar of social movements and media studies, I see an alarming split between the types of content consumed by right-wing reactionaries and left-wing social justice advocates,” Donovan states. Donovan describes Kyle Rittenhouse as a “lone vigilante” who acted as a “direct consequence of white militia groups’ organizing on social media.”
She called on Facebook to take action by limiting “the spread of propaganda about Rittenhouse by blocking searches on his name."
Schaffer was on the scene of this incident and told Campus Reform that Rittenhouse was “defending himself," which is also Rittenhouse's legal defense.
According to Donovan, "right-wing media" pages on social media “convert the real pain experienced by Black Americans into fodder for deranged, paranoid fantasies that white vigilantes must take up the functions of the police.”
"If social media companies do not act swiftly to stop calls for violence against protesters, the situation can only get worse," Donovan stated.
“Social-media companies need to work actively to prevent militias and vigilante groups from staging these armed standoffs. This includes shutting down event pages that are used as central organizing hubs and removing the accounts of those who are calling for physical violence,” she concluded.
When asked what he wishes could be relayed to his audience that his videos might not capture, Schaffer said, “It shouldn't be inconvenient to talk about what’s actually happening in our country.
Donovan did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publication.