Jonathan Choe, a veteran reporter for the ABC television affiliate KOMO in Seattle, has written an essay on Medium claiming he was fired for his coverage of a rally by the controversial Proud Boys group.
Choe was covering the rally in the Washington state capital of Olympia earlier this month. He tweeted a photo montage of the Proud Boys rally, including some controversial music in the clip. That drew outrage from the Twitterati, who allegedly accused him of being a “white supremacist.”
“Let me start off by saying I am not a neo-Nazi, fascist, or white supremacist,” Choe wrote on Medium. “Those are just some of the names I have been called over the past few days for my recent coverage of a protest in Olympia, WA. It was advertised as a “rally for America.”
Choe, a reporter of 20 years, created a photo montage with sound from the march to end his day. In the clips, he included music from the rally that included a song called “We’ll Have Our Home Again.” Although Choe was unfamiliar with the tune, it is allegedly played frequently at Proud Boys rallies and similar gatherings.
“I wanted to simply capture a moment in time, with authentic visuals and sounds. It was clearly misinterpreted by some on-line,” Choe wrote.
Because of the uproar, Choe said his news director told him to take down all his social media related to the Proud Boys rally. He did so, but was fired the following day, he said.
“I’ve been a journalist now for more than 20 years. If there was a Ku Klux Klan rally and cross burning at Seattle Center in downtown, I 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,” Choe wrote, adding that he has covered “Antifa violence and destruction in the city” as well.
“My problem arises when any group or side tries to silence me for simply trying to show what’s happening,” Choe condluded. “At the end of the day, all I can do is shine a light on issues that matter to the community. Fairly and accurately.
Deadline has reached out to KOMO for comment. We’ll update when they respond.