A Fox News affiliate misidentified an Antifa protester who is alleged to have struck a police horse in the neck with a nail as being a pro-Trump supporter who was participating in a “March Against Shariah” at the Pennsylvania state capitol on Saturday. It was only after readers at Reddit -- a popular internet forum -- campaigned to have corrections posted that Fox 43 reluctantly changed its story.
False report, and reader response
Fox 43 local television news reported that Lisa Joy Simon, 23, was arrested after striking a police horse with a wooden pole equipped with a nail projecting from it. The mounted officer who was involved, and his horse, suffered only minor injuries. Photos taken at the counter demonstration showed numerous black-clad Antifa protesters, including Simon and other young women, wielding sticks and poles, and covering their faces with bandanas. Antifa is a national leftwing activist group whose name is short for anti-fascists.
Simon has a shaved head and resembles so-called skinhead toughs. Readers at the Reddit website who follow news focused on the Trump administration almost immediately saw discrepancies in the Fox 43 report and brought it to the attention of the station. An early version of the Fox 43 report stated:
“The incident unfolded during a demonstration at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex in Harrisburg shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. The demonstration was part of “March Against Sharia,” sponsored by ACT for America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designates as an anti-Muslim hate group. The demonstration was scheduled to take place in more than 20 cities, including New York, Dallas and Atlanta, and was projected to be ACT for America’s largest protest against Islam.”
In a separate article published by Fox 43, reporter Jossie Carbonare headlined coverage of the Antifa protests as “Peaceful protest held in response to anti-Muslim rally ‘March Against Sharia’ in Harrisburg.” It stated that a “peaceful protest” took place on the same day in Harrisburg outside Goodwin Memorial Family Life Center. “The Community Responders Network (CRN) led the counter-protest in support of 'Sharia Law' which is a set of religious principles that help shape Islamic traditions,” the report said, while identifying CRN as a nonprofit that fights for “human rights and it stands in solidarity with local Muslim communities.”
Commenters at Reddit expressed outrage over the misreporting about the misidentification of Lisa Simon with anti-Sharia demonstrators. A Reddit user bearing the handle “Raindrops1984” called the Fox 43 television news station to complain. Raindrops1984 wrote:
"The woman I spoke to said that they don't have an Antifa ‘role book’ [sic] so they can't say with certainty that she is a member of Antifa. So they just wrote the "facts", which is that she was at the anti-Sharia rally. I asked why they didn't assume she was with Antifa. She stood with them, marched with them, and wore their insignia. She said that they won't retract. So I apologized for assuming that they were a place of neutral investigative journalism, and hung up.”
Later on, Raindrops1984 wrote:
“The woman I spoke to was an idiot. She was patronizing and insisted that, just because somebody is wearing Antifa clothing and says they are part of Antifa, doesn't mean they are with Antifa. This is how we get dozens of terrorist attacks with "no clear motive." It's Newspeak, and it assaults our intelligence. Guaranteed if she was wearing a MAGA hat, they would say she's a Trump supporter.”
On Sunday, the South Jersey Antifa group issued an appeal for money for the bail money for their “comrade” who had been arrested at the counter-demonstration on the previous day. “The charges are entirely fabricated and do not reflect what actually happened during the incident... It is clear that this person is being held as a political prisoner, and we must make it known that we will not be intimidated by a militarized police...as an organized movement, comprised of a united working class, we can smash the oppression of the old society and forge a new, just one from the flames!”
Antifa tactics used against police
Trump supporters pointed out the admission on the part of the Antifa counter-demonstration organizers to Fox 43, calling on others to call the station to correct its reporting of the incident. Media photos taken at the rally and police reports say that other Antifa members were carrying baseball bats and bamboo poles with the ends sharpened into points. Also, Antifa tactics against police horses is common in Europe. They are known to throw firecrackers at horses to make them panic.
Fake news amended
Today, Fox 43 significantly edited the coverage of Simon’s arrest to describe her affiliation with Antifa but no note appeared there that it had been corrected. However, Fox 43 later tweeted that it was “updating” its previous story. Also, there was no reporting in the article that Simon was dressed in black and bearing Antifa insignia. There were numerous other young women who were dressed like Simon who also brandished sticks and poles.
Updating our previous story: Woman that attacked police horse at protest was an ANTIFA demonstrator https://t.co/wqce3Uvszf— WPMT FOX43 (@fox43) June 13, 2017
Simon has been charged with aggravated assault of a police officer, taunting police animals, obstruction of law enforcement function, possession of prohibited weapons, and disorderly conduct. She was bonded out on Monday and bail set at $200,000. See photos of Simon's arrest at PennLive.