Jonathan Choe, a veteran reporter with the ABC KOMO television affiliate in Seattle, wrote an essay on Medium claiming he was fired for his coverage of a rally by the controversial group Proud Boys.
Choe was covering the rally in the Washington state capital, Olympia, earlier this month. He tweeted a photo montage of the Proud Boys rally, including some controversial music in the clip. This sparked outrage from Twitterati, who reportedly accused him of being a “white supremacist”.
“Let me start by saying that I am not a neo-Nazi, fascist or white supremacist,” Choe wrote on Medium. “These are just a few 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 20-year-old journalist, created a photo montage with the sound of walking to end her day. In the clips, he included music from the gathering which included a song called “We’ll Have Our Home Again”. Although Choe is unfamiliar with the melody, it is said to be played frequently at Proud Boys rallies and similar gatherings.
“I simply wanted to capture a moment in time, with authentic visuals and sound. It has clearly been misinterpreted by some online,” Choe wrote.
Due to the uproar, Choe said his news director told him to delete all of his social media related to the Proud Boys rally. He did, but was fired the next day, he said.
“I have been a journalist for over 20 years. If there was a Ku Klux Klan rally and a burning cross at the Seattle Center downtown, I would be the first person to cover the event. My job is to present all sides, not just the one that matches my values or worldview,” Choe wrote, adding that he also covered “Antifa violence and destruction in the city.”
“My problem comes when a group or part tries to shut me up for just trying to show what’s going on,” Choe concluded. “At the end of the day, all I can do is shine a light on the issues that matter to the community. Fairly and accurately.
Deadline has contacted KOMO for comment. We’ll update when they respond.