Some very convincing points being made by Robert Reich (UCB professor and Clinton administration official) can be found here.

Is he presenting facts or alternative facts?

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    Which aspects of that flaming rant are you asking about? It's labeled "opinion" but it's disconcerting that a publication once held in high esteem would publish something written in so blatantly biased a manner. Are you referring to the conspiracy theory that Yiannopoulos and Breitbart were behind the demonstrations? Nobody has actually made a case that they were. Reich made a baseless snide insinuation to denigrate a number of conservatives in one statement, Breitbart called him a liar, and now he claims Breitbart doth protest too much. What "convincing points" are you referring to? – user11810 Feb 6 '17 at 2:53
  • Depends on who you ask. (But as fixer points out you need to be specific. Are there specific statements you are asking to be fact checked?) – user1530 Feb 6 '17 at 2:56
  • @fixer1234 news publications have a long history of publishing opinion. Sometimes on one side of the political spectrum or the other, sometimes both. It's when they publish it as 'news' that there is concern. – user1530 Feb 6 '17 at 2:58
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    @blip, I agree about news publications publishing opinion and labeling it as such. Typically, though, a reputable publication has standards even for opinion. High-end news organizations publish opinion that is reasoned and not a flaming rant. I was surprised to see the Newsweek logo on a piece that began, "Berkeley gave Yiannopoulos a major forum to spout his racist and misogynistic vitriol." Beyond, that, the article is innuendo with no supporting facts, and written by someone with obviously extreme views and an axe to grind. It's difficult to take that seriously but it feeds a narrative. – user11810 Feb 6 '17 at 3:11
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    @fixer1234 looking at the main page of Newsweek's Opinion section makes it appear that Newsweek has gone the way of the click-bait hyperbole business model. Bummer. – user1530 Feb 6 '17 at 3:23

Is he presenting facts or alternative facts?

How do you define "alternative facts"? Chuck Todd defined them as lies. Most of what Reich says is non-falsifiable, unlike the "alternative facts" that Todd was calling lies.

We have no idea who the rioters were. They could have been anarchists who just came out for the fun of it; they could have been organized by Democratic agitators; or they could have been organized by alt-right agitators. We simply don't know anything about the rioters. Maybe they should have arrested some--then we'd know at least who they were. College students? Local criminals? Militia members? What?

Perhaps this is what Kellyanne Conway was trying to say, that the story wasn't as simple as the worse facts. That's why they looked for alternative facts. Of course, much of what Sean Spicer actually found was either incorrect, misleading, or inconclusive. This made it easy for Todd to call them lies.

I'd call this an alternate narrative. Because it strings together seemingly unrelated facts, we generally go further and call this kind of narrative a conspiracy theory.

Note that at this level of proof, you can establish almost anything. For example, here are six facts that lead to Robert Reich being the mastermind behind the riots.

  1. Robert Reich worked for Bill Clinton, husband of Hillary, in the 1990s.
  2. Hillary Clinton is the first person that I heard using the term alt-right. She made very clear that she disapproved.
  3. Hillary Clinton was the opponent of Donald Trump.
  4. Opponent is a synonym for enemy.
  5. The perpetrator has the most interest in seeing someone else blamed, as that draws attention away from investigating the perpetrator.
  6. Robert Reich is accusing Trump of being behind the riot.

Obviously Reich is the perpetrator. It's only logical. As a lifelong servant of the Clintons, he felt it necessary to attack their enemies. Now, needing to distract from people who might suspect him or people like him instead, he wants to shift blame from those he likes to his enemies.

Not only did he arrange this most recent riot, but he also arranged earlier attacks like the one at Washington University, where a man was shot. Because of course, it is impossible for two events to be unrelated by anything more than similarity of stimuli.

Is any of that true? Probably not, but it's still based around six facts.

A more likely explanation is that he came up with this explanation not because he personally is implicated but because liberals are. He likes liberals and dislikes conservative ideology. It's natural for him to prefer to believe that people he dislikes did the bad things. And blaming the conservative victim is good politics if you're a liberal. That it makes our already over-polarized system more polarized is an acceptable loss.

It is conceivable that this is a false flag operation by the alt-right. But that gives a lot of credit to a group that many describe as hopelessly disorganized. An easier explanation is that it was exactly what it seems. Just as the pacifist Black Live Matters movement is known by the violent actions and rhetoric of a small number of people who support the name rather than the ideals, so were the anti-division protesters overwhelmed by the actions of their most violent allies.

That's one of the problems with crying racist and fascist. You may be a pacifist. But your listener may not be. When you speak in apocalyptic terms, it creates stronger reactions in listeners. Stronger counter-reactions in opponents; stronger disgust and concern from supporters; and stronger force from those inclined towards violence. And people seldom listen when you say that wasn't what you wanted. Neither opponents nor your more violent supporters.

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    This answer seems speculative, more of an opinion piece; but the OP is requesting fact checking. Supposing at present the facts are obscured by mystery, there's no harm in leaving it unanswered. – agc Feb 6 '17 at 6:18
  • > I'd call this an alternate narrative. To me,. Alternative facts are still facts that can be reasonably expected to support an alternative narrative, which itself is an interpretation of facts. Facts can never be narrative by themselves. – dannyf Feb 6 '17 at 12:12
  • @agc & dannyf, this answer isn't speculation or an alternative narrative; the intention is not to present a serious scenario, rather the opposite. It is a demonstration about the methodology used in the referenced article. The question asks whether there is merit to what is presented in the article. This answer shows that the article was based on a fallacious approach that would allow the writer to make any ridiculous claim and make it appear to have a credible basis. The answer explains why there is nothing in the article to address. – user11810 Feb 6 '17 at 16:25
  • @fixer1234, Usually Brythan's answer are more factual, satire is perhaps not his strong suit. Re "ridiculous claim": Reich did not claim, he speculated and expressed doubts. The US government has used agent provocateurs before, and seems tolerant of overzealous agents, so their use would not be unprecedented. – agc Feb 6 '17 at 20:16

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