A reporter for the ABC television affiliate in Seattle who recently tweeted shocking video of the decline of Seattle’s downtown was fired for live-tweeting a Proud Boys rally.
Jonathan Choe is an American of Asian background, but after tweeting a photo montage of the rally last Saturday in the Washington state capital of Olympia he was called a neo-Nazi, a fascist and a white supremacist, among other epithets.
“As a proud Asian American journalist who’s faced years of discrimination for my race and ethnicity, this is comical at best,” he wrote Friday on Medium.com. “I’ve also been accused of intentionally creating a propaganda video for the organizers of the rally – ‘Capital City Proud Boys.’”
Choe, with 20 years of experience as a journalist, explained he wanted to be an observer of an event held by a group that has received considerable attention over the past couple of years.
“I wasn’t taking sides. I wasn’t saying anything was good or bad,” he explained. “In fact, none of the marchers would talk to me on the record because they ‘didn’t trust the mainstream media.’ So I just started following the march route. Aside from some middle fingers and heckling from those who opposed the rally, the day ended peacefully and without incident.”
Fliers advertising the rally said the group was protesting the treatment of people who are still being held in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
Earlier this month, Choe documented via cellphone video the visible deterioration of Seattle’s downtown amid a homelessness crisis and the more recent efforts to defund police and soften the punishment for crime.
Choe’s videos showed homeless people openly using drugs and trash covering the street in downtown Seattle in front of store windows still covered by plywood some 18 months after the 2020 riots and the takeover of a city neighborhood.
‘The following day, I was fired’
Choe said that in hindsight, he wished he had added more context to his coverage on Twitter of the Proud Boys rally.
“But before I could clarify or respond to the criticism, my news director told me to take down all my social media related to the Proud Boys march,” he wrote.
“I was also told by my boss not to speak to any outside media. The following day, I was fired from KOMO,” Choe said.
He said that if a Ku Klux Klan rally and cross burning took place in Seattle, he would be the first person there to cover the event.
“My job is to present all sides, not just the one that aligns with my values or worldview,” he argued.
Choe noted that at KOMO, he provided considerable coverage of violence and destruction in the city caused by Antifa, a group that talks of destabilizing America and bringing a socialist revolution.
Yet, when he wanted to “show what’s happening at a Proud Boys rally, which ended up being quiet and peaceful,” critics accused him of “not being more critical of this event and also legitimizing their hate.”
The Seattle station issued a statement on Choe’s firing.
“KOMO did not direct or approve Jonathan Choe’s decision to cover this weekend’s rally, nor did his work meet our editorial standards. We decided to end our employment relationship with him yesterday,” the station said.
A source at the station told TVSpy that staffers were complaining about Choe and that this was “the last straw.”
The reporter also was criticized for his reporting on homelessness in Seattle.
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