Anchor Chuck Todd is under fire for his “softball” treatment of an Antifa sympathizer on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” with conservative media watchdog Brent Bozell accusing him of allowing a “radical to promote domestic terrorism with little push back.”
Todd, following a similar interview on his daily MSNBC show last week, hosted a brief debate Sunday on the radical left-wing group’s violent tactics. Speaking in support of Antifa was Dartmouth professor Mark Bray, who justified what he described as the group’s “self-defense” tactics as a “legitimate response to white supremacist and neo-Nazi violence.”
The group, however, has a history of attacking not just neo-Nazis but conservative and pro-Trump crowds in general. Its allies infamously clashed with Trump supporters in a melee earlier this year in Berkeley, Calif., leading to the cancellation of a Breitbart editor’s speech.
In that riot, protesters broke windows, threw smoke bombs and started a bonfire outside the building that would have hosted the speech.
Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, blasted Todd and NBC for giving a platform for such extremist groups as Antifa.
He said in a statement posted to Twitter:
“Violent leftists have broken into the mainstream and Chuck Todd is guilty of aiding and abetting. It is abhorrent that NBC and Todd believe it acceptable to normalize extremist groups like Antifa which use terror to silence their opposition.
“After last Wednesday's softball interview, Chuck Todd had the opportunity to correct his mistake but instead chose to again allow a radical to promote domestic terrorism with little push back.
“Can you imagine Chuck Todd inviting a member of a militant right-wing group on his show to rationalize violence against the left? NBC must cease giving legitimacy to supporters of this violent left-wing movement immediately.”
Fox News has reached out to NBC for comment.
Todd’s own Twitter feed reflected similar complaints, with critics accusing the show of giving a platform to the promotion of violence. Todd, in introducing Bray, did describe him as part of a "very small minority who is defending the idea of violence."
Antifa is back in the spotlight after President Trump criticized “both sides” for the clashes in Charlottesville two weekends ago, when a counter-protester at a white supremacist rally was killed in a car attack. Trump was hammered for his comments and accused of equating neo-Nazis with those who would protest them.
But Antifa’s tactics at other rallies have faced increased scrutiny, with critics concerned they could trigger more violence.
On Todd’s show, that argument was made forcefully by Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“I think it's a spectacularly bad idea to give one group of people the right to silence another group of people,” Cohen said.
Bray, though, said, “There's a big difference between confronting fascism and confronting other forms of violence.”
Todd gently pushed back, saying some critics claim Antifa is against free speech, bordering on censorship.
“Well, let's be clear that Antifa are not calling on the government to censor anyone,” Bray said. “… And so the idea is, the real enemies of free speech are fascists.”
A report in Bozell’s NewsBusters noted that Todd did not press Bray on Antifa’s broad definition of fascists.
The report said: “There was no clarification from Todd of how Antifa’s definition of ‘fascist’ only applies to those who don’t hold liberal beliefs. Their definition blankets nearly everyone on the right and now covers those on the left who question their tactics of shutting down free speech.”