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The False and Exaggerated Claims Still Being Spread About the Capitol Riot

PHOTO: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Insisting on factual accuracy does not make one an apologist for the protesters. False reporting is never justified, especially to inflate threat and fear levels.

16 February 2021

GLENN GREENWALD — What took place at the Capitol on January 6 was undoubtedly a politically motivated riot. As such, it should not be controversial to regard it as a dangerous episode. Any time force or violence is introduced into what ought to be the peaceful resolution of political conflicts, it should be lamented and condemned.

But none of that justifies lying about what happened that day, especially by the news media. Condemning that riot does not allow, let alone require, echoing false claims in order to render the event more menacing and serious than it actually was. There is no circumstance or motive that justifies the dissemination of false claims by journalists. The more consequential the event, the less justified, and more harmful, serial journalistic falsehoods are.

Yet this is exactly what has happened, and continues to happen, since that riot almost seven weeks ago. And anyone who tries to correct these falsehoods is instantly attacked with the cynical accusation that if you want only truthful reporting about what happened, then you’re trying to “minimize” what happened and are likely an apologist for if not a full-fledged supporter of the protesters themselves.

One of the most significant of these falsehoods was the tale — endorsed over and over without any caveats by the media for more than a month — that Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick was murdered by the pro-Trump mob when they beat him to death with a fire extinguisher. That claim was first published by The New York Times on January 8 in an article headlined “Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump Rampage.” It cited “two [anonymous] law enforcement officials” to claim that Sicknick died “with the mob rampaging through the halls of Congress” and after he “was struck with a fire extinguisher.” […]

1 Comment on The False and Exaggerated Claims Still Being Spread About the Capitol Riot

  1. Michael Tracey has also criticized this kind of thing on Twitter:

    See my comment mentioning Henna Maria’s video ‘The Ten Stages of Genocide’; the way these people are being demonized makes it relevant here too — they should not be charged with anything more than trespassing and/or vandalism (perhaps in a few cases minor assault) — instead some of them may end up with 20 year prison sentences.

    Yet when you point to Trump’s shitty little video, the one he made right after the incident where he basically said the book should be thrown at these people, and say when some of them are given long prison terms Trump will not say one word about it, the Trumptards are outraged.

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