As the panel’s evidence piled in on January 6, the conservative media doubled down

As the panel’s evidence piled in on January 6, the conservative media doubled down

After the committee’s final summer hearing last week on Jan. 6, discussions on the sets of CNN and MSNBC turned into a curious if familiar prospect of what the panel’s findings might lead to. Former President Donald J. A criminal prosecution of Trump, many pundits said, was not only justified but seemed more than vindication of his inaction as rioters sacked the Capitol.

If it felt like déjà vu – more foreshadowing of Mr Trump’s downfall – hearing the reaction from pro-Trump platforms felt like something new, reflecting the lengths to which his friendly media’s praetorian guard has gone to rewrite violent history. that day

Even as the committee’s stark portrayal of Mr. Trump’s failure to intervene led two influential outlets on the right, The New York Post and Wall Street Journal, to denounce him over the weekend, many top conservative media figures continue to further sanitize. Details as of January 6, 2021. They have villainized the Capitol Police and alleged the existence of a government conspiracy to criminalize political dissent.

Talk radio host Mark Levin scoffed at the idea that Mr. Trump tried to overturn the election or incite a rebellion. If he had, Mr. Levin explained during an appearance on Fox News as other networks broadcast the hearing live, the former president would have taken more direct action, such as ordering the arrest of Vice President Mike Pence or firing the attorney general.

“You would think with all the talk of crime, they would show us,” Mr. Levin said, speaking on Fox News Thursday night. “Nothing,” he added. “Absolutely zero evidence that Donald Trump was involved in an attempt to violently overthrow our election or our government. Literally nothing.”

And to put a fine point on exactly what he meant, Mr. Levin read from a section of the 14th Amendment that says anyone “engaged in rebellion or insurrection” is barred from holding federal office.

That’s why the media kept calling Jan. 6 “an uprising,” Mr. Levin explained.

(The author of this article is an MSNBC contributor.)

Part of Dunn’s message to Trump supporters is, in effect: You may recoil in horror at what happened in the Capitol, but you’ve been misled by the mainstream media.

“What’s strange is that when I talk to these people, their distaste for the media on Jan. 6 is stronger now than it was a year ago,” said Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman and talk radio host who left the party. His unwavering support for Mr. Trump. As the committee presented its evidence, Mr. Walsh added, “Half the country didn’t give a damn or think it was a hoax.”

Inconsistencies can be confusing. The same Fox News hosts who were urging the president’s chief of staff to mediate with the president or risk “destroying his legacy,” as Laura Ingraham wrote in a Jan. 6 text to Mark Meadows, are now accusing the mainstream media of exaggerating events in the Capitol.

The conservative narrative often relies on kernels of truth about incomplete or inconsistent statements from law enforcement and witnesses — a common occurrence in any investigation so widespread — that Mr. Trump’s allies in the media then magnify.

One of the most influential journalists on the right who has endorsed Mr. Trump since Jan. 6 is Julie Kelly, a writer for the website American Greatness, whose articles have prompted coverage in largely conservative media outlets such as Fox News. For more than a year, Ms Kelly has cast doubt on the severity of the attack and played down the deaths of police officers at the scene that day.

An initial Capitol Police report on Jan. 6 said that Brian Siknik, an officer, collapsed and died from injuries “while engaging physically” with pro-Trump rioters. An autopsy later revealed that he died of natural causes after suffering multiple strokes hours after the attack.

Ms. Kelly and others have seized on the inquiry, often without acknowledging that the officer was assaulted and sprayed with an unknown chemical irritant by the rioters, or allowing for the possibility that the trauma he experienced played a role in his condition, which The medical examiner noted that “Cicnick did not die as a result of anything that happened on Jan. 6,” he announced in April in a piece titled “Defend the Capitol Police.” “But that doesn’t stop Trump supporters from continuing to lie about the Capitol Police being responsible for his death,” Ms. Kelly added.

Ms Kelly did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Another way conservative media figures have turned on the Capitol Police is to claim that the idea of ​​forcing people to breach the Capitol is some sort of hoax.

On January 6, the committee showed numerous videos of rioters entering. One Pride Boys member, Dominic Pezola, was arrested, using a police shield to smash through a window, allowing dozens of rioters to storm the building.

On Tucker Carlson’s Friday program on Fox News, he mocked testimony from an unnamed former White House security official who said Secret Service agents called their families to say goodbye to their murders. Then Mr. Carlson played video showing Capitol police officers, outnumbered, standing idly by as rioters streamed through barricades.

“We don’t know why the police are letting people into the Capitol complex on video,” he said, calling the hearings a “show trial” and saying he was proud of his network for not airing them in prime time.

As Capitol Police officers are portrayed as nothing less than heroic, new heroes emerge. A story that went viral on the far right last week was about a 69-year-old woman, Pam Hemphill, who recently began a 60-day prison sentence on Jan. 6 after pleading guilty to breaking into the Capitol. The way Ms Hemphill was portrayed on The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, which replaced Rush Limbaugh’s program in many markets, was typical of the sympathetic messages conservatives heard about her. The hosts described her as a victim – a grandmother and a cancer patient who was punished unreasonably harshly.

“Think of the months of BLM protests across the country,” said Clay Travis, referring to the Black Lives Matter movement. “How many of those real rioters are doing 60 days in jail because of them? It is absolutely indefensible.”

Even the committee’s biggest revelations have fallen flat in the right-wing media. When former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson described Mr. Trump’s violent reaction after Secret Service agents refused to escort him to the Capitol, some right-wing commentators insisted that fans of the former president would be happy to hear that he was angry. unable to go

Breitbart News Daily host Alex Marlowe told his audience that many Trump supporters liked the idea that their president was fighting to join them at the Capitol, as he had told them he would.

In an email, Mr. Marlowe said he thought many conservatives in his audience watched the hearings because they were concerned with the impeachment process and the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 election. “Trump was the victim of a drive-by smear campaign by the political and media establishment,” he said, describing his audience’s view.

Part of the effectiveness of the conservative media’s defense of the former president’s behavior on January 6 is its uniformity. Few have broken down to question his actions as the committee builds its case. Some, however, are beginning to show interest in other potential Trump challengers, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Ms. Ingraham broadcast her program Friday on location from Florida, where she interviewed the governor.

But the Post and Journal’s explosive denunciations of Mr. Trump over the weekend suggest that deep rifts may be forming.

Both publications, which, like Fox News, are part of Rupert Murdoch’s conservative media empire, have published editorials questioning Mr Trump’s character. The Journal described his latest revelation of inaction as “appalling”.

The Post went further, calling his behavior an “eternal shame” on January 6 and declaring, “Trump has again proven himself unfit to be the chief executive of this country.”

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