Monday 1st of March 2021

the fake stories about the real events...

fake journalism

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.

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

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.

By Glenn Greewald


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.”

A second New York Times article from later that day — bearing the more dramatic headline: “He Dreamed of Being a Police Officer, Then Was Killed by a Pro-Trump Mob” — elaboratedon that story:

After publication of these two articles, this horrifying story about a pro-Trump mob beating a police officer to death with a fire extinguisher was repeated over and over, by multiple journalists on television, in print, and on social media. It became arguably the single most-emphasized and known story of this event, and understandably so — it was a savage and barbaric act that resulted in the harrowing killing by a pro-Trump mob of a young Capitol police officer. 

It took on such importance for a clear reason: Sicknick’s death was the only example the media had of the pro-Trump mob deliberately killing anyone. In a January 11 article detailing the five people who died on the day of the Capitol protest, the New York Times again told the Sicknick story: “Law enforcement officials said he had been ‘physically engaging with protesters’ and was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.” 

But none of the other four deaths were at the hands of the protesters: the only other person killed with deliberate violence was a pro-Trump protester, Ashli Babbitt, unarmed when shot in the neck by a police officer at close range. The other three deaths were all pro-Trump protesters: Kevin Greeson, who died of a heart attack outside the Capitol; Benjamin Philips, 50, “the founder of a pro-Trump website called Trumparoo,” who died of a stroke that day; and Rosanne Boyland, a fanatical Trump supporter whom the Times says was inadvertently “killed in a crush of fellow rioters during their attempt to fight through a police line.”

This is why the fire extinguisher story became so vital to those intent on depicting these events in the most violent and menacing light possible. Without Sicknick having his skull bashed in with a fire extinguisher, there were no deaths that day that could be attributed to deliberate violence by pro-Trump protesters. Three weeks later, The Washington Post said dozens of officers (a total of 140) had various degrees of injuries, but none reported as life-threatening, and at least two police officers committed suicide after the riot. So Sicknick was the only person killed who was not a pro-Trump protester, and the only one deliberately killed by the mob itself.

It is hard to overstate how pervasive this fire extinguisher story became. Over and over, major media outlets and mainstream journalists used this story to dramatize what happened:


Television hosts gravely intoned when telling this story, manipulating viewers’ emotions by making them believe the mob had done something unspeakably barbaric:

After the media bombarded Americans with this story for a full month without pause, it took center stage at Trump’s impeachment process. As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy noted, the article of impeachment itself stated that “Trump supporters ‘injured and killed law enforcement personnel.’” The House impeachment managers explicitly claimed on page 28 of their pretrial memorandum that “the insurrectionists killed a Capitol Police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher.”

Once the impeachment trial ended in an acquittal, President Joe Biden issued a statement and referenced this claim in the very first paragraph. Sicknick, said the President, lost “his life while protecting the Capitol from a violent, riotous mob on January 6, 2021.”

The problem with this story is that it is false in all respects. From the start, there was almost no evidence to substantiate it. The only basis were the two original New York Times articles asserting that this happened based on the claim of anonymous law enforcement officials. 

Despite this alleged brutal murder taking place in one of the most surveilled buildings on the planet, filled that day with hundreds of cellphones taping the events, nobody saw video of it. No photographs depicted it. To this day, no autopsy report has been released. No details from any official source have been provided.

Not only was there no reason to believe this happened from the start, the little that was known should have caused doubt. On the same day the Times published its two articles with the “fire extinguisher” story, ProPublica published one that should have raised serious doubts about it. 

The outlet interviewed Sicknick’s brother, who said that “Sicknick had texted [the family] Wednesday night to say that while he had been pepper-sprayed, he was in good spirits.” That obviously conflicted with the Times’ story that the mob “overpowered Sicknick” and “struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher,” after which, “with a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support.” 

But no matter. The fire extinguisher story was now a matter of lore. Nobody could question it. And nobody did: until after a February 2 CNN article that asked why nobody has been arrested for what clearly was the most serious crime committed that day: the brutal murder of Officer Sicknick with a fire extinguisher. Though the headline gave no hint of this, the middle of the article provided evidence which essentially declared the original New York Times story false:

In Sicknick's case, it's still not known publicly what caused him to collapse the night of the insurrection. Findings from a medical examiner's review have not yet been released and authorities have not made any announcements about that ongoing process.

According to one law enforcement official, medical examiners did not find signs that the officer sustained any blunt force trauma, so investigators believe that early reports that he was fatally struck by a fire extinguisher are not true.

The CNN story speculates that perhaps Sicknick inhaled “bear spray,” but like the ProPublica interview with his brother who said he inhaled pepper spray, does not say whether it came from the police or protesters. It is also just a theory. CNN noted that investigators are “vexed by a lack of evidence that could prove someone caused his death as he defended the Capitol during last month's insurrection.” Beyond that, “to date, little information has been shared publicly about the circumstances of the death of the 13-year veteran of the police force, including any findings from an autopsy that was conducted by DC's medical examiner.”

Few noticed this remarkable admission buried in this article. None of this was seriously questioned until a relatively new outlet called Revolver News on February 9 compiled and analyzed all the contradictions and lack of evidence in the prevailing story, after which Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, citing that article, devoted the first eight minutes of his February 10 program to examining these massive evidentiary holes.

That caused right-wing media outlets to begin questioning what happened, but mainstream liberal outlets — those who spread the story aggressively in the first place — largely and predictably ignored it all. 

This week, the paper that first published the false story — in lieu of a retraction or an explanation of how and why it got the story wrong — simply went back to the first two articles, more than five weeks later, and quietly posted what it called an “update” at the top of both five-week-old articles:

With the impeachment trial now over, the articles are now rewritten to reflect that the original story was false. But there was nothing done by The New York Times to explain an error of this magnitude, let alone to try to undo the damage it did by misleading the public. They did not expressly retract or even “correct” the story. Worse, there is at least one article of theirs, the January 11 one that purports to describe how the five people died that day, which continues to include the false “fire extinguisher” story with no correction or update.

The fire extinguisher tale was far from the only false or dubious claim that the media caused to circulate about the events that day. In some cases, they continue to circulate them.

In the days after the protest, numerous viral tweets pointed to a photograph of Eric Munchel with zip-ties. The photo was used continually to suggest that he took those zip-ties into the Capitol because of a premeditated plot to detain lawmakers and hold them hostagePoliticodescribed Munchel as “the man who allegedly entered the Senate chamber during the Capitol riot while carrying a taser and zip-tie handcuffs.”

The Washington Post used the images to refer to “chatters in far-right forums explicitly discussing how to storm the building, handcuff lawmakers with zip ties.” That the zip-tie photo of Munchel made the Capitol riot far more than a mere riot carried out by a band of disorganized misfits, but rather a nefarious and well-coordinated plot to kidnap members of Congress, became almost as widespread as the fire extinguisher story. Yet again, it was The New York Times that led the way in consecrating maximalist claims. “FBI Arrests Man Who Carried Zip Ties Into Capitol,” blared the paper’s headline on January 10, featuring the now-iconic photo of Munchel at the top.

But on January 21, the “zip-tie man’s” own prosecutors admitted none of that was true. He did not take zip-ties with him from home or carry them into the Capitol. Instead, he found them on a table, and took them to prevent their use by the police:

Eric Munchel, a pro-Trump rioter who stormed the Capitol building while holding plastic handcuffs, took the restraints from a table inside the Capitol building, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.

Munchel, who broke into the building with his mom, was labeled "zip-tie guy" after he was photographed barreling down the Senate chamber holding the restraints. His appearance raised questions about whether the insurrectionists who sought to stop Congress from counting Electoral College votes on January 6 also intended to take lawmakers hostage.

But according to the new filing, Munchel and his mother took the handcuffs from within the Capitol building - apparently to ensure the Capitol Police couldn't use them on the insurrectionists - rather than bring them in when they initially breached the building.

(A second man whose photo with zip-ties later surfaced similarly told Ronan Farrow that he found them on the floor, and the FBI has acknowledged it has no evidence to the contrary).

Why does this matter? For the same reason media outlets so excitedly seized on this claim. If Munchel had brought zip-ties with him, that would be suggestive of a premeditated plot to detain people: quite terrorizing, as it suggests malicious and well-planned intent. But he instead just found them on a table by happenstance and, according to his own prosecutors, grabbed them with benign intent. 

Then, perhaps most importantly, is the ongoing insistence on calling the Capitol riot an armed insurrection. Under the law, an insurrection is one of the most serious crises that can arise. It allows virtually unlimited presidential powers — which is why there was so much angst when Tom Cotton proposed it in his New York Times op-ed over the summer, publication of which resulted in the departure of two editors. Insurrection even allows for the suspension by the president of habeas corpus: the right to be heard in court if you are detained.

So it matters a great deal legally, but also politically, if the U.S. really did suffer an armed insurrection and continues to face one. Though there is no controlling, clear definition, that term usually connotes not a three-hour riot but an ongoing, serious plot by a faction of the citizenry to overthrow or otherwise subvert the government. 

Just today, PolitiFact purported to “fact-check” a statement from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) made on Monday. Sen. Johnson told a local radio station:

"The fact of the matter is this didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me. I mean armed, when you hear armed, don’t you think of firearms? Here’s the questions I would have liked to ask. How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired? I’m only aware of one, and I’ll defend that law enforcement officer for taking that shot.

The fact-checking site assigned the Senator its “Pants on Fire” designation for that statement, calling it “ridiculous revisionist history.” But the “fact-checkers” cannot refute a single claim he made. At least from what is known publicly, there is no evidence of a single protester wielding let alone using a firearm inside the Capitol on that day. As indicated, the only person to have been shot was a pro-Trump protester killed by a Capitol police officer, and the only person said to have been killed by the protesters, Officer Sicknick, died under circumstances that are still completely unclear.

That protesters were found before and after the riot with weapons does not mean they intended to use them as part of the protest. For better or worse, the U.S. is a country where firearm possession is common and legal. And what we know for certain is that there is no evidence of anyone brandishing a gun in that building. That fact makes a pretty large dent in the attempt to characterize this as an “armed insurrection” rather than a riot.

Indeed, the most dramatic claims spread by the media to raise fear levels as high as possible and depict this as a violent insurrection have turned out to be unfounded or were affirmatively disproven. 

On January 15, Reuters published an article about the arrest of the “Q-Shaman,” Jacob Chansley, headlined “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to 'capture and assassinate' officials.” It claimed that “federal prosecutors offered an ominous new assessment of last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters on Thursday, saying in a court filing that rioters intended ‘to capture and assassinate elected officials.’” Predictably, that caused viral social media postings from mainstream reporters and prominent pundits, such as Harvard Law’s Laurence Tribe, manifesting in the most ominous tones possible:

Laurence Tribe @tribelawSome of the individuals who breached the Capitol intended to "capture and assassinate elected officials," federal prosecutors wrote in this new court filing. This is part of what Trump must answer for in his Senate trial and in post-1/20/21 prosecutions

January 15th 2021

711 Retweets2,127 Likes

Shortly thereafter, however, a DOJ “official walked back a federal claim that Capitol rioters ‘intended capture and assassinate elected officials.’" Specifically, “Washington's acting U.S. Attorney, Michael Sherwin, said in a telephone briefing, ‘There is no direct evidence at this point of kill-capture teams and assassination.’"

Over and over, no evidence has emerged for the most melodramatic media claims — torn out Panic Buttons and plots to kill Vice President Mike Pence or Mitt Romney. What we know for certain, as The Washington Post noted this week, is that “Despite warnings of violent plots around Inauguration Day, only a smattering of right-wing protesters appeared at the nation’s statehouses.” That does not sound like an ongoing insurrection, to put it mildly. 

All this matters because it inherently matters if the media is recklessly circulating falsehoods about the most inflammatory and significant news stories. As was true for their series of Russiagate debacles, even if each “mistake” standing alone can be dismissed as relatively insignificant or understandable, when they pile up — always in the same narrative direction — people rightly conclude the propaganda is deliberate and trust in journalism erodes further.

But in this case, this matters for reasons far more significant than corporate media’s attempt to salvage the last vestiges of their credibility. Washington, D.C. remains indefinitely militarized. The establishment wings of both parties are still exploiting the emotions surrounding the Capitol breach to justify a new domestic War on Terror. The FBI is on the prowl for dissidents on the right and the left, and online censorship in the name of combatting domestic terrorism continues to rise.

One can — and should — condemn the January 6 riot without inflating the threat it posed. And one can — and should — insist on both factual accuracy and sober restraint without standing accused of sympathy for the rioters.


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attenuating circumstances and real justice?


On the evening of January 6, 2021, the day of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, former coal mining executive Don Blankenship, who ran against Donald Trump as a third-party candidate in the 2020 election, began an all-caps Twitter thread.

“Why is it that American politicians and the American media support citizen uprisings in China, Poland, South Africa, and throughout the world, but when an American citizen is killed during an uprising against a corrupt American government the citizens are at fault?” @DonBlankenship posted on Twitter.

“Members of the media and the government are all saying what we saw today doesn’t work — but that is only because they don’t want it to work,” the thread continues. “What we saw today is what freed Americans from King George and England.”

Blankenship at one time served as the CEO of Massey Energy Company, a coal mining company that at one time was Appalachia’s largest coal producer. He later served a one-year prison sentence after he was convicted of conspiracy to violate mine safety standards, causing the 2010 deaths of 29 coal miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia.

The former coal CEO is, to be sure, no stranger to Twitter controversy. In 2013, for example, Rolling Stone ranked one of Blankenship’s tweets number three on its list of the top 10 “dumbest things ever said about global warming.”

Blankenship was also hardly alone among white-collar climate science deniers in expressing support for the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

A review of social media posts and online publications by DeSmog found dozens of prominent climate deniers — both individuals and organizations — posted messages supporting the insurrectionists, spread debunked claims about election fraud, hinted at civil war, or, in one case, suggested that Twitter’s effort to remove online disinformation about the election should be viewed as “worse than 9-11.”

Not all of those profiled in DeSmog’s Climate Disinformation Database supported the insurrection on January 6. A significant number of organizations, like the Cato Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers, immediately condemned mob violence.

But the events on January 6 and its aftermath appear to have created sharp divisions among those opposed to climate action, with many individuals (and a small number of organizations) posting pro-insurrection messaging before, during, and after the failed storming of the Capitol as Congress was preparing to certify the presidential election results. Some disavowed the violence that day, while others markedly did not.

DeSmog collected insurrection-related messaging from dozens of those profiled in our Climate Disinformation Database. Those profiles have been updated to include their statements surrounding the insurrection, including a number of posts that have since been deleted or removed.


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When violent anti-cop rioters were arrested in last year’s “summer of rage,” high-profile Democrats donated cash to bail them out, left-wing lawyers defended them pro bono and sympathetic judges and DAs bent over backward to let them off scot-free. 

But when Trump supporters were rounded up over the Capitol riot, they were on their own. “Lock them up and throw away the key” has been the attitude in the six weeks since. 

Denied bail, locked in jail indefinitely, relocated to Washington, DC, far from family and friends, with limited access to lawyers and little money, many face more than 10 years in jail for little more than trespassing on federal property. 

Take Richard “Bigo” Barnett, still languishing in a DC federal prison, more than 1,000 miles from home and his ailing wife of 20 years. 

In the mythology that surrounds the Capitol riot, the 60-year-old Arkansas window installer is infamous. 

The photograph of him sitting in Nancy Pelosi’s chair with one foot up on her desk has gone around the world. 

He was interviewed later outside the Capitol, holding an envelope from Pelosi’s office that he was at pains to explain he did not steal, but paid for after soiling it with blood from a cut finger. 

“I didn’t steal it,” he said. “I bled on it . . . I put a quarter on her desk . . . and I left her a note on her desk that says, ‘Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch.’ ” 

Barnett, who had never before been in trouble with the law, was concerned that if the envelope with his blood were found, he could be accused of making a “blood threat,” says his cousin Eileen Halpin. 

He turned himself in to Arkansas police two days after the riot, and was charged with entering a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and theft of “public property,” aka the envelope. 

A week later, after hearing from seven character witnesses, Arkansas magistrate Erin Wiedemann refused the government’s demand that he be held without bail until trial. 

She ordered him released on $5,000 bail, and his wife, Tammy Newburn, was to pick him up the next day. But prosecutors swiftly appealed and, that night, a judge in DC, Chief Judge Beryl Howell, ruled he remain in jail. 

He was whisked away to a federal prison in Oklahoma and later moved to DC with others from around the country who have been charged over the Jan. 6 riot. 

Barnett waived his Miranda rights when the FBI interrogated him and spent his entire lifesavings of $25,000 on legal fees that did not save him from jail. An additional weapons charge was added, for a stun stick that he claims had no batteries. 

He fired his, lawyer and is currently unrepresented and broke. 

Veteran New York criminal-defense lawyer Steven Metcalf, representing 25-year-old Jake Lang, who is facing federal riot charges, says he never has seen such heavy-handed treatment of defendants outside of “international drug-kingpin clients.” 

Lang also was transferred to DC in the dead of night without his lawyers being informed. 

“There is zero logical sense why they were transferred to DC,” Metcalf said. “All the [court] proceedings are going to be virtually conducted [online] for the foreseeable future . . . It just goes to show the unfair treatment and aggressive prosecution.” 

For Barnett, it is especially cruel, since he is the sole provider for Tammy, who has heart problems and is lost without him. 

His cousin has been trying to gather donations for his legal defence but has been hampered by the fact fundraising platforms such as GoFundMe have banned anyone involved in the Capitol riot. 

Yet a 28-year-old woman shown on video punching a female Trump supporter in the face has raised $250,000 on GoFundMe. 

Barnett shouldn’t have brought the stun stick to the Capitol, obviously, and shouldn’t have put his foot up on the desk that turned out not to be Pelosi’s, but her aide’s. 

He maintains he did not break into the Capitol but was carried by the crowd through open doors. Halpin, his cousin, has footage from his cellphone recorded as he entered the building, in a fast-moving crush of bodies. You can see his hand try to grab the door jamb as the crowd surges through. 

“He said he had no choice,” says Halpin. “You either go in or you are trampled.” 

It wasn’t until almost 20 minutes later that Barnett entered through the open door. He left after six minutes. Now he faces more than 10 years in prison. 

You are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty in this country. But every power structure has conspired to prejudge these people. The president and his media lapdogs have branded them “white supremacists” and “domestic terrorists.” No one cares about them. 

The double standards are sickening. You can deplore the riot without sacrificing basic justice and fairness.



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Yes and the USA still keep JULIAN ASSANGE in a UK prison... Free ASSANGE NOW !







investigating police action...


Six Capitol Police officers have been suspended and 29 others are currently under investigation in connection with their actions during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, officials have announced.

“Our Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the actions of 35 police officers from that day,” spokesman John Stolnis told FOX 5 of Washington, D.C. “Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman has directed that any member of her department whose behavior is not in keeping with the Department’s Rules of Conduct will face appropriate discipline.”


Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement that the department was “actively reviewing video and other open source materials of some USCP officers and officials that appear to be in violation of Department regulations and policies.”

“Our Office of Professional Responsibility will investigate these behaviors for disciplinary action, up to, and including, termination,” Pittman added. “Several USCP officers have already been suspended pending the outcome of their investigations.”

According to Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), one of the officers suspended last month had been seen taking a selfie with one of the rioters, while another had worn a “Make America Great Again” hat and gave directions to the mob.

FOX 5 reported that at least two rioters told the FBI a Capitol Police officer said, “This is your house now” as rioters entered the Capitol building.

More than 250 people have been charged in connection with the riot, and investigators say they’re still looking potentially for hundreds more.

This month, Capitol Police officers issued an “overwhelming” vote of no confidence in the department’s leadership.



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an inside job...

On 15 February 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appointed General Russell L. Honoré (photo) to conduct the investigation into the 6 January  storming of the Capitol.

General Honoré is renowned for having coordinated military relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina. He is a Republican, close to former President George W. Bush and fiercely opposed to former President Donald Trump. In several radio and television interviews, he indicated that on the basis of his inquiry, this event was an "inside job": i.e. orchestrated from within the Capitol.

His theory is that the Capitol police, which is supposedly made up of 30 to 40 percent supporters of former President Trump, let the protesters in without calling for reinforcements.

In turn, Trump supporters point out that General Honoré was opposed to taking similar action to thwart the attack on government buildings last year in Portland, Oregon. They also point out that he was somehow able to make that  accusation a month before being appointed.

Moreover, the fence that was temporarily erected around the Capitol building could stay up permanently.



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Take note of "agents povocateurs" mention...