The Insurrection Lie II: False Reports From January 6th Continue to Unravel.

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On January 13, 2021, The National Pulse called the almost ubiquitous, false reporting about the events at the Capitol on January 6 “The Insurrection Lie.” This was contrary to some other conservative media outlets, such as National Review, which published a piece on January 17 calling the events at the Capitol “impeachable.”

Our view, groundbreaking at the time, has been vindicated in the ensuing month. Tucker Carlson last week called the media’s reporting on the events a “lie.” Following is an update to our coverage based on recent disclosures.

Ritualizing The Lie.

On January 13, we reported:

A Capitol Police officer died of a stroke the day after the riot; but it is not known what may have happened during the melee that would provide a causal connection. His brother stated that he had communicated with the officer after the event: “He texted me last night and said, ‘I got pepper-sprayed twice,’ and he was in good shape.” Sometime after the riot, he returned to his division office and collapsed. It has been reported that the Capitol Police initially issued a statement denying that a police officer had died as a result of injuries sustained in the attack. Based on available facts (which may change) it is speculative to say at this time that he was murdered or slain. His family has made a plea that the death not be politicized. 

Update: The National Pulse has since reported that early reports Officer Sicknick was hit with a fire extinguisher were false, and the New York Times has backed away from the claim. Revolver has done a deep dive into these events, raising further questions about the cause of death.

Based on available facts, it is reasonable to conclude that Sicknick’s death was not caused by the protest. Nevertheless, against the family’s wishes, the death has been used politically. Sicknick became only the fifth person to receive the distinction of lying in honor at the Capitol Rotunda. Alarmingly, this was done to ritualize the unsupported claim that he was slain by rioters. Democrat House impeachment managers alleged an “armed insurrection” based on the false assertion that Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher. The United States Capitol is surrounded by razor wire and secured by military units on the premise that its previous security was breached by armed insurrectionists who murdered a police officer. 

It is a lie.

Creating the Lie.

On January 13, we reported:

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” On January 6, 2021, hundreds of thousands of citizens traveled to the nation’s capital to exercise their Constitutional right to peacefully protest. This was their grievance: Seventy-five million had cast their ballots for Trump on election day. Then, in the wee hours, when Las Vegas oddsmakers were calling a Trump victory, counting inexplicably stopped, and a disproportionate number of Biden votes appeared. The Biden votes were primarily from Democrat-controlled cities: Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Milwaukee. They were culled from mail-in ballots, an accommodation hurriedly retrofitted into the voting system because of a pandemic. The election’s statistical anomalies were mind boggling, including Republican dominance down ballot, Trump’s significant support among minority voters, and his victory in all traditional bellwethers. In June, Attorney General Bill Barr sat for an interview in CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and warned of fraud with mail-in voting. He said: “People trying to change the rules to this, to this methodology – which, as a matter of logic, is very open to fraud and coercion – is reckless and dangerous and people are playing with fire.” Some of the new voting procedures were ordered by state governors and health officials even though Article II of the Constitution delegates rule-making for elections exclusively to state legislatures. The Washington protesters had reason to ask: Did someone pull a fast one?  

Update: Since our report, Time Magazine has helpfully answered our ultimate question, “Did someone pull a fast one?” – with a resounding (1) yes they did, and (2) they are proud of it. As we had surmised, the stratagem centered on mail-in ballots.  In Time’s words: 

Their work touched every aspect of the election. They got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time. They successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to fight viral smears…. This is the inside story of the conspiracy to save the 2020 election, based on access to the group’s inner workings, never-before-seen documents and interviews with dozens of those involved from across the political spectrum. It is the story of an unprecedented, creative and determined campaign whose success also reveals how close the nation came to disaster. “Every attempt to interfere with the proper outcome of the election was defeated,” says Ian Bassin, co-founder of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan rule-of-law advocacy group. “But it’s massively important for the country to understand that it didn’t happen accidentally. The system didn’t work magically. Democracy is not self-executing.”

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The peaceful protestors on January 6 were people who believe Democracy should be self-executing, without a well-funded consortium of the credentialed elite conspiring to assure an outcome. The Constitution permits citizens who hold even controversial political views to assemble and speak their mind. Many who peacefully assembled in Washington D.C., though, are being harassed as insurrectionists. They are being purposely conflated with those who breached the Capitol and there is a witch hunt to identify any who question the election. In a fiery speech, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell lumped the protesters together as a “mob.” This is outrageous behavior on the part of the powerful against ordinary citizens who simply asserted their Constitutional rights.

Doubling Down on The Lie.

On January 13 we reported:

President Trump addressed the protesters and called on the assembled to march “over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” At the moment the President was uttering the words “peacefully,” though, a different more sinister group had already gathered at the Capitol, a full 45 minute walk away. Whatever happened there is not yet fully understood.  Given the proclivity of federal law enforcement to act politically against Trump, it unfortunately may never be. Some things, though, are certain. We know, for instance, that many of the troublemakers were not Trump supporters. We know, too, that Capitol Police waved at least some Trump supporters into the building. We know that a Trump supporter was shot in the Capitol…. President Trump has saluted the protesters and denounced those who entered the Capitol to engage in violence. The distinction he made is no different than claims made by democratic mayors in PittsburghAtlanta, and Dallas over the summer who supported BLM protests in their cities, but condemned troublemakers. Similarly, Senator Kamala Harris spoke about those riots on the The Late Show With Stephen Colbert in June:

“But they’re not going to stop. They’re not going to stop. They’re not. This is a movement. I’m telling you. They’re not going to stop, and everyone, beware. Because they’re not going to stop. They’re not going to stop before election day in November, and they are not going to stop after election day. And everyone should take note of that on both levels. That they’re not going to let up. And they should not, and we should not.”

Those who reported that her statement supported riots have been fact checked by ReutersUSA Today, the AP, and others, on the premise that common cause with protests should not be cast as support for any rioting that ensues. If that is the media standard made venerable by the ritual of fact-checking, shouldn’t President Trump be judged accordingly? 

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Update: Since that was published, we have learned that President Trump will not be judged by the Kamala Harris standard. 

Even though he called for the protestors to behave “peacefully and patriotically” at the Capitol, he has been tried in the United States Senate for inciting an insurrection. Who exactly did he incite? He cannot be responsible for those inside the Capitol who were not his supporters. Indeed, he was addressing his supporters at a venue 45-minutes away when the breach occurred. Nor can he be blamed for those who were waved into the building. The Senators who heard the impeachment case bear greater responsibility for failed security on the premises.  Nor can he be responsible for any of his supporters who went too far and did something inappropriate. That is the lesson from this summer’s riots when any troublemakers were carefully separated from the larger cause.  

If the federal government is permitted in this instance prosecute an entire movement because someone marginally associated got out of hand, it is the end of political movements. That is why distinctions between movements and troublemakers have always been made. We discussed the need for such distinctions on January 13:

[If it turns out that a Trump supporter did something that caused harm], perspective is important. In 2017, James Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer during the presidential primaries, opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball practice in Northern Virginia. Four people were shot, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). Hodgkinson believed that the 2016 election had been rigged by Vladimir Putin for Donald Trump. He was encouraged in this belief by Hillary Clinton, the DNC, the media, and social media. Sen. Bernie Sanders immediately condemned the shooting saying, “I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society, and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs counter to our most deeply held American values.” Sanders’ statement was hailed as appropriate to the moment. When someone with a peripheral involvement in politics commits a violent act, it is unfair to attribute broad political blame. It is also unnecessary for a politician to disclaim personal association with the act. That disassociation is assumed. President Trump addressed the Hodgkinson shooting, saying, “We may have our differences . . . We are strongest when we are unified and when we work for the common good.”  The New York Times favorably noted that, “Mr. Trump steered clear of the possible political motivations of the gunman,” and instead issued a “dignified” call for unity.

That time it was okay for the president not to politicize the violence. It was even dignified. Wonder why?

Unfortunately, lost in the fog is the legitimate grievance of Trump voters who wish to know what happened on election night. Instead, the dominant media has turned the protest, ridiculously, into a coup attempt. The Insurrection Lie maintains that a bare-chested-horn-helmet-wearning-organic-food-eating-global-warming-activist seized the Capitol January 6 on President Trump’s orders. This joins The Russia Lie and The Charlottesville Lie as a way to keep the little people at each other’s throats while the powerful skim off the top. Trump is dangerous because he calls them on the lies. The powerful need to cancel him and anyone who supports him. The last thing they want is the sort of perspective that free speech is meant to assure.  Truth would risk people to turning their outrage on the powerful instead of each other. We live in dangerous times and not because of the peaceful protesters in attendance at Trump’s speech on January 6. They are not the bad guys.

Update: Nothing new to report there.

The Insurrection Lie remains a false propaganda tool to unfairly attack Trump and his supporters. Everything that has happened since January 13 supports The National Pulse’s original reporting.


Thomas J. Farnan

Thomas J. Farnan is an attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His writing has appeared in Forbes and he is a regular contributor to Townhall.com and the Observer. Follow him on Twitter @tfarnanlaw.