‘Journalist’ Poses As Protester, Gets Pepper-Sprayed for a Story

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Some of Saturday's mayhem.
Some of Saturday's mayhem. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AP

The protest on Saturday that shut down the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum was admittedly made worse, at least in part, by a writer for the American Spectator, who attended "for journalistic purposes." Patrick Howley wrote in an article, which was later edited and relocated to the conservative publication's website, about how he "infiltrated" the cause "to mock and undermine" it. During a shoving match between protesters and museum guards, Howley pushed forward even further, but not for the group's cause. "I wasn't giving up before I had my story," he writes. Well, he got pepper sprayed, so that's one story right there. The second story, an added bonus, is more meta: Howley doesn't seem to understand how journalism works.

The writer somehow finds it within himself to scold the protesters in the blog version of the article, which has been stripped of the aforementioned "mock and undermine" portion. Howley writes:


In the absence of ideological uniformity, these protesters have no political power. Their only chance, as I saw it, was to push the envelope and go bold. But, if today's demonstration was any indicator, they don't have what it takes to even do that.

He concludes that the guard who pepper sprayed him was braver than the protesters: "He was proud that I had been pepper-sprayed, and, oddly, so was I." His bosses may not be quite as proud; the website bears no trace of or comment on the original piece, although the new one is not much better.

Conservative journalist says he infiltrated, escalated D.C. museum protest [WP]
Standoff in D.C. [TAS]