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John Stossel: Independent journalists

John Stossel
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Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann and Native American elder Nathan Phillips come face to face in Washington, D.C., in January.

“I’m not going to let them bully me out of reporting,” said Tim Pool after recording an antifa protest where angry activists cursed at him. There might have been violence, but antifa’s “de-escalation team” protected him, he says.

That surprised me. “Antifa has a de-escalation team?”

“They have people who try and make sure nobody from their side starts it — because cameras are rolling,” he answered.

Pool is part of the new media that now cover stories the mainstream media often miss.

Pool considers himself a man of the left. He supported Bernie Sanders and once worked for Vice. But now he often finds himself criticizing his fellow leftists.

“This really strange faction of people on the left are saying ridiculous things,” he says. “They’re helping Donald Trump.”

Trump probably does gain support when people watch street protests turn violent.

Pool won new followers with his coverage of the Washington, D.C., conflict between a Native American protester and Covington, Ky., high school teens wearing Trump hats, including one who looked like he was smirking.

“All these big news outlets, even The Washington Post, CNN, they immediately made the assumption, ‘He must be a racist sneering at this Native American man’,” Pool says. “I didn’t make that assumption. … I just see a guy banging a drum and a kid with a weird look on his face.”

Pool and Reason TV’s Robby Soave were the rare journalists who bothered to examine more of the videos.

“The initial narrative that we heard from the activists was that this kid got in this man’s face. … It’s actually the other way around,” Pool says. “No one else watched the video.”

No one? Major news outlets said the student was racist without ever examining the full video?

“Here’s what happens,” Pool explains. “One left-wing journalist says, ‘Look at this racist!’ His buddy sees it and says, ‘Wow, look at this racist.’ And that’s a big ol’ circular game of telephone where no one actually does any fact-checking. Then The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN all publish the same fake story.”

Although

Pool made those big-name outlets look like irresponsible amateurs, he doesn’t have a journalism degree. In fact, he didn’t even finish high school. He dropped out of school and just started videotaping what interested him, funding his videos with ads and donations from viewers.

“I want to know why things are happening. Some people don’t trust the media. I don’t know who to believe. Why don’t I just go there and see for myself?”

That’s brought him more than a million internet subscribers.

It’s also made him an advocate for free speech.

“When I was growing up, it was the religious conservatives that had the moral panic about music and swear words. But today the moral panic is coming from the left. Today, the left shows up with torches and burns free speech signs.”

I’m glad there are young journalists like Pool, who still value open debate.

Actually, we have lots of new media options today. Joe Rogan’s podcast covers viewpoints from all sides. He has won a huge audience. Dave Rubin reports on YouTube from a classical liberal perspective. Naomi Brockwell covers how tech is changing the world.

On the right, Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder and Candace Owens irreverently critique my New York City neighbors’ sacred cows.

On the left, Sam Harris has attracted a big podcast following by discussing all kinds of ideas, and Jimmy Dore takes a principled left-wing stand.

I don’t agree with all those new media people. I very much disagree with some of them. But I’m glad they are out there, giving us more choice.

John Stossel is author of “No They Can’t! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed.”

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