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Andy Ngo

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Andy Ngo
Andy Ngo by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Ngo in 2019
Born
Andy Cuong Ngô

1986/1987 (age 33–34)[1]
NationalityAmerican
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles (BA)
EmployerThe Post Millennial

Andy Cuong Ngô (born c. 1986) is an American conservative journalist and social media personality best known for covering street protests in Portland, Oregon. He is editor-at-large of The Post Millennial, a Canadian conservative news website. He has published columns in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and The Spectator.

Ngo began his career as a multimedia editor for the Portland State University student newspaper, The Vanguard. In 2017, he was dismissed after publishing a video to Twitter that the paper's editor-in-chief said was out of context and violated journalist ethics. Ngo responded publicly in a piece in the National Review disputing that he made any misrepresentation. Ngo then went on to work as a sub-editor for Quillette.

While reporting on a 2019 Proud Boys march in Portland, Ngo was attacked and injured by counter-protesters. This attack drew national attention. Ngo was hit with a milkshake and stated that blows to his head caused him to suffer a brain injury. In a lawsuit, he blamed Rose City Antifa activists for the assault. Ngo later testified on antifa and related First Amendment issues before a U.S. House subcommittee.

Ngo's coverage of anti-fascist groups has been controversial, including accusations that Ngo focuses on violence committed by the far-left while ignoring the violent actions of the far-right. In August 2019, a video surfaced that showed Ngo with Patriot Prayer members who were said[by whom?] to be planning an attack on patrons of the Cider Riot bar.

Early life and education

Ngo was born and raised in Portland, Oregon.[1] His parents immigrated from Vietnam by boat in 1978.[1] Ngo's father worked as a police officer, prior to his relocation to the United States.[2] Raised in a Buddhist family, Ngo converted to Christianity in high school.[3] After a period of time as an evangelical Christian, he became disillusioned and took an interest in skepticism.[4] He subsequently became an atheist[3] and was strongly against organized religion, which was reflected in his social media activity in the form of "inflammatory language".[5] In a December 2016 interview with Skeptical Inquirer, Ngo stated that language does not reflect his current beliefs.[6]

While attending the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Ngo volunteered with AmeriCorps.[2] He graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a graphic design degree.[3] After graduation, he experienced a period of unemployment and worked as a photographer at a used car dealership.[3] In the mid 2010s, Ngo came out as gay while visiting relatives in rural Vietnam.[2] In 2013, he began volunteering as a photographer at the Center for Inquiry in Portland.[5]

In 2015, Ngo enrolled in a master's program at Portland State University for political science, with research interests in secularism and political Islam.[1][3][7] While attending the school, he joined the Freethinkers of Portland State University.[3][4]

Career

The Vanguard

While enrolled at Portland State University (PSU), Ngo worked as a multimedia editor at The Vanguard, a student newspaper.[5] In 2017, he drew national attention after he was let go from The Vanguard and accused the newspaper of firing him over his conservative political beliefs.[2] After Ngo attended an April 26 interfaith panel at the university and used his personal account to tweet a video clip of the Muslim student's remarks, Breitbart News picked up and circulated his video within 24 hours[1] which led to a "social media firestorm."[8] Four days later, The Vanguard's editor, Colleen Leary, fired Ngo and stated that he was dismissed because his tweet was unethical, reflecting a reckless oversimplification and violation of journalistic ethics.[1] According to Ngo, he was fired from the paper for political incorrectness, although he was not reporting for The Vanguard at the time. Leary considered his paraphrasing of the Muslim student's remarks be "a half-truth", meant to incite a reaction, and denied that the dismissal was motivated by previous campus controversies over Ngo's work.[1] Critics from conservative media characterized the firing as an attempt to stifle free speech.[1][9]

In May 2017, Ngo wrote an op-ed for the National Review titled "Fired for Reporting the Truth".[1] He also engaged in online discussions about the incident and on the pro-Donald Trump subreddit /r/The Donald where he called the firing part of a "trend towards self-censorship in the name of political correctness".[8] Leary reported that since the incident did not receive much attention on campus, it left her with questions about the relationship between Breitbart and Ngo.[1] The Muslim student, whose comments Ngo shared by tweet, later said: "I thought I would feel proud after putting something like this [interfaith panel] together. Not feel like this."[1][8]

Later work

Between 2017 and 2019, Ngo contributed a number of articles to the online magazine Quillette.[10][11][12] He was described as a sub-editor and photojournalist for the publication by the time of his departure in August 2019.[13][14]

Ngo filmed protests and a disruptive audience on March 5, 2018 when Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute known for her criticism of the women's movement,[15] spoke at the Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland.[16][17] Ngo shared a video clip of students engaging in no-platforming tactics during Sommers talk and asked for donations.[15][16]

On August 29, 2018, Ngo wrote an op-ed titled "A Visit to Islamic England" for The Wall Street Journal. In the article, Ngo wrote of his experiences in two neighborhoods in East London, including visits to a mosque and an Islamic center. From these experiences, he concluded that London was afflicted with "failed multiculturalism". He falsely connected alcohol-free zones in parts of London to the Muslim-majority populations. Ngo was accused of Islamophobia[14][18][19] and subsequently issued a correction.[20][21][22] Alex Lockie from Business Insider criticized Ngo's article for "fear monger[ing] around England's Muslim population" and cherry-picking evidence, and for mischaracterizing the neighborhood near the East London Mosque.[23] Steve Hopkins from HuffPost stated that "some of his [Ngo's] assertions have already been disproved".[24]

In October 2018, Ngo started a podcast entitled Things You Should Ngo. His interviewees included Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin and Carl Benjamin (who uses the pen name "Sargon of Akkad" online).[3]

Ngo with U.S. Congressman Dan Crenshaw at the 2019 Teen Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA in Washington, D.C..

Several media outlets, including The Oregonian and The Rolling Stone have been critical of Ngo and described him as a "right-wing provocateur".[25][26][27][28][29][30] BuzzFeed News said that "Ngo's work is probably best described as media activism" and that he engages in "participant reporting".[3] New York magazine cites Ngo as an example of "busybody journalism."[20] In April 2019, the conservative news and opinion website The Bulwark stated that some of Ngo's tweets "were so obscure they smacked of outrage mining" following the fires at the Notre-Dame cathedral.[31]

As of November 2019, Ngo is editor-at-large of The Post Millennial,[32] a conservative Canadian news website.[33]

Confrontations with antifa activists and assault

Ngo has labelled several journalists, including Shane Burley and Alexander Reid Ross, as "antifa ideologues".[34] According to Vox's Zack Beauchamp, Ngo has doxed at least one political activist by publishing her full name.[35] He has also been accused of using selectively edited videos and sharing misleading and inaccurate information to paint antifa activists as violent, and to underplay the violence of the far-right.[25][36][37][38][39][40][41][42]

Ngo has investigated what he calls "illiberal reactions", which he says threaten college freedoms.[17] In February 2018, Ngo and his student group Freethinkers of PSU invited former Google engineer James Damore, the author of a Google diversity memo, to speak on the campus. According to Ngo, his group was threatened with violence and were intimidated by antifa protesters, but this claim has been disputed.[5] He later stated that antifa protesters did not disrupt the event.[5][43] During the event, a portion of the audience walked out in protest against Damore. Ngo filmed the disruption, but said "it [had not been] a plan to get national attention for [himself]."[8][17][44][45]

Livestreaming Patriot Prayer rallies

In November 2018, Ngo live-streamed the Him Too rally organized by a Patriot Prayer member in downtown Portland, and was sprayed with silly string by antifascist protesters.[46][47] Ngo said the Democratic politicians are in a difficult position as they have a constituency that "share similar goals and sympathies [as antifa]". Ngo called for "more clarity in their [Democratic] leadership, and to come out against violence, against this type of anarchy, and not view it through a partisan lens as they are currently".[46]

May Day

On May 1, 2019, Ngo attended demonstrations and counter protests in Portland associated with International Workers Day or May Day.[48][49] He reported being punched and blasted with pepper spray while filming two separate May Day events.[49]

In August 2019, a video of Ngo surfaced where he is seen laughing, while standing next to the members of the far-right group Patriot Prayer as they plan an attack on anti-fascist patrons at Cider Riot following the May Day protests.[5][13][50][51] He later followed the group to the bar where they attacked the patrons. The video is part of the court documents in the ongoing lawsuit against Patriot Prayer members for causing the riot. One of the victims of the attack was knocked unconscious with a baton and suffered a broken vertebra—Ngo later posted a video of her being attacked and identified her online.[52] Portland Mercury quoted an undercover antifascist embedded in Patriot Prayer saying that Ngo has an "understanding" with the far-right group, that the group "protects him and he protects them".[53]

Assault during coverage of the Proud Boys rally and counter protest

On June 29, 2019, Ngo covered protests at a rally organized by the far-right group Proud Boys in Portland. A group of counter-protesters also organized, some of whom physically attacked Ngo, who was present filming.[54] Ngo was punched in the head, kicked and hit with at least one milkshake. He blamed his injuries on antifa counter-protesters. No individual attackers were identified.[3][55][56][57][58][59] He walked away and reported what happened in a livestream, during which a medic arrived to check on him.[60] The video of the June 29 incident where Ngo was assaulted by masked demonstrators went viral and led the Proud Boys, a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to organize a follow up event in Portland known as the End Domestic Terrorism rally for August 17, 2019.[61][62]

Ngo's attorney wrote that he was subsequently taken to hospital for cerebral hemorrhaging. Writing for BuzzFeed News, Joseph Bernstein stated that Ngo had sent him a copy of his discharge paperwork from the hospital showing that he had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage.[3] Ngo retained attorney Harmeet Dhillon to investigate the response of the Portland Police Bureau.[63]

Texas Senator Ted Cruz called on federal authorities to investigate Ted Wheeler, Portland's mayor who also serves as the city's police commissioner.[64][65] Democratic Party presidential candidate Andrew Yang wished Ngo a speedy recovery.[64] Former Vice President and President-elect Joe Biden, and then-candidate Eric Swalwell, also condemned the attack.[66] Relying on an unnamed Proud Boys member, the Portland-based newspaper Willamette Week said the attack on Ngo "happened because he ignored Proud Boys' offer of protection".[67] The paper further asserted "it is increasingly clear [Ngo] is coordinating his movements and his message with right-wing groups".[67] BuzzFeed News reported that "[Ngo]'s literal brand is that anti-fascists are violent and loathe him", adding that he "has been building to a dramatic confrontation with the Portland far left for months, his star rising along with the severity of the encounters...[Ngo] is willing to make himself the story and to stream himself doing it. He proceeds from a worldview and seeks to confirm it, without asking to what degree his coverage becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy".[3]

Patriot Prayer video and departure from Quillette

On August 26, 2019, the Portland Mercury reported[53] on a video that showed Ngo standing near members of far-right group Patriot Prayer in a Portland bar and smiling and laughing[36][50] as the group planned a violent attack at a different bar, frequented by left-wing activists.[5][68] Salon quoted the Portland Mercury's Alex Zilenski as saying that "there’s no way [Ngo] couldn’t know the group was planning on instigating violence".[69] Later during the day on August 26, Ngo's name was deleted from Quillette's masthead, and the site from Ngo's Twitter feed.[13] The editor of Quillette, Claire Lehmann, told The Daily Beast that the two developments were not linked and that Ngo had left the website several weeks earlier.[13] After publication of its story, the Portland Mercury published a letter from Ngo's lawyer seeking retraction of the newspaper's "false and inherently defamatory statements." The Mercury stood by its reporting.[53] On August 30, Spectator USA published an article by Ngo in which he stated he did not know about the far-right group planning the attack, that he "[only] caught snippets of various conversations" and "was preoccupied on [his] phone", describing the accusations as "lies".[70]

Social media influence

Ngo's actions and role in covering issues (particularly civil unrest in Portland, Oregon following the killing of George Floyd) have received media attention.[71][72] In December 2019, The Oregonian named Ngo one of 2019's Top 15 Newsmakers citing events that included his attack, his surge in prominence within conservative circles, and his circulation of "heavily edited videos of several altercations to his then-270,000 Twitter followers, racking up millions of views online while spreading inaccurate claims and limited context about what transpired."[72]

In August 2020, The Southern Poverty Law Center said that Ngo had been caught misrepresenting facts and that "what he says goes substantially viral after that."[73]

By October 2020, Politico reported Ngo had established approximately 800,000 social media followers and had become a mega influencer that was a "key source for rightwing audiences in search of news about the Black Lives Matter movement."[71]

Legal

In June 2020, Ngo sued individuals purportedly associated with antifa, seeking $900,000 in damages for assault and emotional distress, and an injunction to prevent further harassment. The lawsuit, filed on Ngo's behalf by his attorney Harmeet Dhillon, cites Rose City Antifa, five other named defendants, and additional unknown assailants. It stems from multiple alleged attacks on Ngo in Portland during 2019: at a demonstration on May 1; at his local gym on May 7; and during a protest on June 29. In particular, the suit accuses Rose City Antifa of a "pattern of racketeering activities".[74]

On June 29, 2020, Ngo testified before the United States House Committee on Oversight and Reform's Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties during a virtual briefing on "The First Amendment Under Attack: Examining Government Violence Against Peaceful Civil Rights Protesters and the Journalists Covering Them", during which he stated that protesters perpetrated violence against journalists and not law enforcement officers.[75][76]

Political views

Ngo has often been described as right-wing and conservative,[3] although he does not describe himself as such.[16][14][77][78][79] When pressed to pick a political label in a July 2019 podcast interview for The Joe Rogan Experience, Ngo responded that he considers himself to be center-right.[80]

References

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  2. ^ a b c d Griffin, Anna (February 8, 2018). "For Immigrants' Son, Vietnam Trip Led To More Conservative Worldview". opb.org. Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Bernstein, Joseph (July 18, 2019). "Andy Ngo Has The Newest New Media Career. It's Made Him A Victim and a Star". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Ngo, Andy (February 16, 2018). "Antifa Rages Against Google's Dissident". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
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  6. ^ Gerbic, Susan (December 21, 2016). "Let's Bring More Students To CSICon". Skeptical Inquirer.
  7. ^ Ngo, Andy (September 6, 2017). "The Challenge of Freethinking Among Nonbelievers". Center for Inquiry. Retrieved June 30, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d Wilson, Jason (March 18, 2018). "How to troll the left: understanding the rightwing outrage machine". The Guardian. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  9. ^ Leary, Colleen (May 14, 2017). "In response to 'Fired for reporting the truth'". Daily Vanguard. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  10. ^ Ngo, Andy (October 11, 2017). "Academic Article Withdrawn Following "Serious and Credible" Threats of Violence". Quillette. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
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External links