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How Republicans Learned To Stop Worrying And Love January 6

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

As the nation approaches the one-year anniversary of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, a disturbing trend has emerged in the right-wing media ecosystem: the open approval and valorization of the event.

Such thoughts first emerged that very day, when far-right commentators like former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka and right-wing site The Gateway Pundit cheered on the “patriots” who had “taken over Capitol Hill.” But after the coup attempt failed, right-wing media proceeded in the following days and months to come up with other explanations of what had happened. While they painted various conspiracy theories of left-wing infiltration or claimed there had been no insurrection at all, they also urged strongly against any attempts to investigate the event further — which did not exactly demonstrate much confidence in the alternative hypotheses.

But more and more, conservative media outlets are collectively ending up right back where they started, with a full embrace of the event, consistent with former President Donald Trump’s claims that “the insurrection took place on November 3rd,” and that January 6 was a “protest of the rigged election.” (This has also spread through official Republican circles, such as the local Republican Party in suburban Cobb County, Georgia, which is preparing to hold a “Candlelight Vigil for J6 Patriots.”)

This right-wing media campaign to excuse the Capitol attack is seemingly reflected by views among the rank-and-file GOP: A recent CBS News/YouGov poll finds that Republican voters have become less disapproving of the events of January 6 than they once were. While the vast majority still say they disapprove, a deeper look finds that this opinion has become spread between those who “strongly disapprove” and a plurality who only “somewhat disapprove.” Moreover, only 21 percent of Republicans will describe the riot as an “insurrection,” while 47 percent describe the people who entered the Capitol as having been motivated by “patriotism,” and 56 percent say they had been “defending freedom.” Moreover, 38 percent of Republicans say that political violence could be justified over election results.

Indeed, much of the response to January 6 has depended on the source’s view about whether such an event could succeed — or only result in ignominious defeat. Far-right activist and talk show host Charlie Kirk, in the days following January 6, deleted a tweet in which he had boasted that his organizations were sending “80+ buses full of patriots” to Washington in order to “fight for this president.” A Turning Point Action spokesperson claimed that the organization had sent only seven buses, but it also later emerged that at least one suspect in the Capitol insurrection had traveled to D.C. on one of Turning Point Action’s buses.

It is also worth looking at what Kirk now has to say about political violence. When an audience member at one of Kirk’s events asked this past October, “How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?” Kirk responded that the questioner was “playing into all their plans,” because their opponents were “trying to make you do something that will be violent that will justify a takeover of your freedoms and liberties.” (Others pointed out that Kirk’s supposed objection to violence was based on its high probability of failure instead of any moral qualms.)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has created a propaganda series claiming that the attack was a false flag operation mounted by government elements in order to persecute conservatives, has also for long time cultivated a parallel narrative in which the insurrectionists were just regular citizens who “talked about the Constitution, and something called their rights.” Moreover, Carlson has claimed, they “were correct” that the 2020 presidential election had been rigged against Trump — and “if a mass of people show up angry at the Capitol, you should at least pause for a second,” and “maybe we should address their concerns.”

And on New Year’s Eve, right-wing site American Greatness — whose contributors have spread lies about the 2020 election and attacked Capitol Police officers — upped the ante with a piece titled “Of Reichstags and Bastilles.” Repeating a series of false claims that there was “overwhelming evidence of widespread voter fraud in multiple swing states,” contributor Eric Lendrum declared that “thus, the protesters were justified.”

The piece also claimed that Ashli Babbitt, the QAnon conspiracy theorist who was killed by a Capitol Police officer as she attempted to climb through a broken window leading to the Speaker’s Lobby, was “an actual hero … who was willing to give her life for her country—and ultimately did just that, albeit in a far more tragic way.” (Babbitt had posted online the day before the Capitol attack that “Nothing will stop us,” further adding: “They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours… dark to light!”)

Lendrum concluded his piece with a declaration that conservatives should “stop trying to qualify their stances on January 6 with an obligatory disavowal,” and instead openly celebrate the actions of that day as “a reaction to a long train of abuses and usurpations perpetrated against the American people by an entrenched elite class that has infected our institutions.”

"The only course of action at this point is to be just as firm in our stance as the Left is. If they truly want to address January 6 by making dramatic historical comparisons, then so should we. If their aim is to make January 6 their Reichstag Fire, then we should go forward celebrating the events of that day as our Storming of the Bastille; a day where a symbol of the degeneration of our ruling class into total corruption and tyranny was challenged, and the elites were shown just what happens when millions of freedom-loving citizens finally grow sick and tired of a boot perpetually stomping on their necks."

Another peculiar set of visuals and commentary came Monday night on the far-right One America News.

OAN host Natalie Harp interviewed right-wing author Lee Smith about how the events of January 6 had supposedly been used to defame Trump supporters in general, with Harp calling the date a “plot against the people.” (This phrasing was in contrast to a book that Smith published in 2019, The Plot Against the President, denouncing the Trump-Russia investigations.)

While OAN aired B-roll photos and video of the January 6 attack itself, Smith claimed that the investigations were “effectively the demonization and in some cases the criminalization of opposition” to the Obama and Biden “faction” in American politics. “It’s despicable, but that's what we're up against. We're up against a very, a very ugly faction of the American public sphere.”




The Grand Old Party Is Now The Party Of Violence

A Republican running for Northampton County executive in Pennsylvania gave a heated address on August 29 about mask mandates in schools. Steve Lynch is tired, he said, of providing his school board arguments and data (he apparently thinks the data support letting kids go maskless), but the important thing about his rant is the threat of force: "Forget into these school boards with frigging data. ... They don't follow the law! You go in and you remove 'em. I'm going in there with 20 strong men."

That's the kind of language that Republicans are now employing. Lynch has not run for public office before, but he did attend the January 6 rally in Washington, D.C., and has posted on social media that the violence that day was a false-flag operation meant to discredit Trump supporters.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina spoke last week at an event sponsored by the Macon County Republican Party. He delivered the kind of lies that have become routine among some Republicans. The election was stolen — and not just the presidential contest but also that won by Gov. Roy Cooper (who defeated his opponent by a quarter of a million votes). Cawthorn told the crowd that vaccines are harmful to children and urged them to "defend their children." A woman asked what he plans to do about the "535 Americans who have been captured from January 6." Cawthorn, who has apparently heard this before, thundered, "Political hostages!" When someone in the crowd asked, "When are you gonna call us back to Washington?" he replied, "We are actively working on that one."

Insurrection talk is becoming Cawthorn's specialty: "If our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it's going to lead to one place — and it's bloodshed."

Naturally, former President Donald Trump has endorsed him for "whatever he wants to do."

In neighboring Tennessee, the Williamson County school board was disrupted by anti-mask parents. As doctors and nurses testified that masks would help limit the spread of COVID-19, people cursed and threatened them: "We will find you!" "We know who you are!"

In Georgia, a mobile vaccination site had to be shut down after anti-vaccine protesters showed up to threaten and harass health care workers. "Aside from feeling threatened themselves, staff realized no one would want to come to that location for a vaccination under those circumstances, so they packed up and left," a spokeswoman for the state health department told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

A survey of the rest of the country yields yet more examples.

We are all old enough to remember a time when election workers were public-spirited citizens, usually elderly, who volunteered their time (or got very modest compensation) to sit for hours at polling sites scanning names from lists of voters and handing out little stickers. That America is gone, driven out by a radicalized Republican party. A number of states with Republican majorities have passed laws that would impose criminal fines of up to $25,000 for "offenses" such as permitting a ballot drop box to be accessible before early voting hours or sending an unsolicited absentee ballot application to a voter.

But that's not the worst of it. Election workers have been hounded and threatened. Bomb threats have been emailed to election sites. "You and your family will be killed very slowly," read a text message sent to Tricia Raffensperger after her husband, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, declined to "find" enough votes to flip the state to Trump. As many as 1 in 3 election workers has reported feeling unsafe, and thousands are resigning.

When Rep. Liz Cheney made the principled decision to vote for Trump's impeachment, she noted that one reason more Republicans might not have chosen to join her was that "there were members who told me that they were afraid for their own security — afraid, in some instances, for their lives."

Republicans talk incessantly about other people's violence. The rioters who burned buildings after George Floyd's death. The criminals who make Chicago a murder capital. Immigrants who supposedly terrorize their host nation (they don't).

Criminal violence is a problem, but the kind of violence Republicans are now flirting with or sometimes outright endorsing is political — and therefore on a completely different plane of threat.

Kyle Rittenhouse, an ill-supervised teenager who decided to grab an AR-15 and shoot people at a Kenosha, Wisconsin, riot (killing two and wounding one) was lionized by the GOP. His mother got a standing ovation at a fundraiser in Waukesha. Ashli Babbitt has become a martyr. Allen West, former chair of the Texas GOP, speaks approvingly of secession. Former National Security Adviser and Trump confidant Michael Flynn suggests that we need a Myanmar-style coup. Some 28 percent of Republicans respond affirmatively to the proposition that "because things have gotten so far off track" in the U.S., "true American patriots may have to resort to violence" to save the country.

Maybe that's not so bad? Not even a third. Another poll framed it differently: "The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it." Fifty-six percent of Republicans agreed.

They are playing with fire. Nothing less than democratic legitimacy is on the line. These menacing signals suggest that Jan. 6 may have been the overture, not the finale.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com

GOP Extremists Plot Stunt For Jan. 6 ‘Political Prisoners’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Department of Justice arrested and charged over 500 people who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, many in a coordinated effort to overturn a free and fair election. DOJ expects to charge about 100 others as well.

"The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol Attack will likely be one of the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence," the U.S. attorney's office in D.C. wrote in March, when the list of people to be charged was estimated at about 400, The Washington Post reported at the time.

On Tuesday, as the newly-minted U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack launches, holding its first day of events, four far right wing House Republicans – some of whom has been linked to white nationalists – will be holding a different type of event.

Instead of working to uncover and piece together all the information about what happened on Jan. 6, including what led up to the attempted coup, four GOP representatives – Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene – will hold a press conference on the "treatment" of the January 6 "prisoners," suggesting they are "political prisoners," which is false.

The four extremists will hold that press conference Tuesday at 1 PM, "demanding answers on the treatment of January 6 prisoners" from Attorney General Merrick Garland, per a press release.

"This is taking place on the same day as the January 6 select committee's first hearing," Forbes' Andrew Solender reports. House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy "is also holding a presser ahead of that to counter-program."

"The lawmakers have all pushed a baseless conspiracy theory that federal agents were behind the attack, with Gosar also casting slain rioter Ashli Babbitt – who was shot by law enforcement while trying to breach the House chamber – as a martyr," Solender says in a Forbes article.

CNN Airs Soft-Focus 'Profile' Of Violent Capital Rioter

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Five months after rioters smashed windows, hung nooses, brawled with cops, and desecrated the U.S. Capitol, CNN decided to portray a killed Trump insurrectionist from January 6 in a positive light. Leaning into interviews with the family of Ashli Babbitt, CNN did its best to present a pleasing picture of the mob member who was shot and killed by U.S. Capitol police as she and a lawbreaking Trump gang tried to force themselves into the Speaker's Lobby as all hell broke loose that dreadful day.

It was a bewildering and misguided profile that whitewashed a deadly serious topic —radicals who wanted to invalidate an American election and use overwhelming physical force to make it happen. The lawless, violent mob rampaged inside the Capitol for hours, knocking officers unconscious and destroying offices of Democratic members.

CNN framed the report as a Both Sides one: Supporters see Babbitt as a patriot, while liberals see her as a terrorist. CNN then proceeded to completely ignore the liberal perspective for the entire Babbitt report. Readers were repeatedly told what a kind and conscientious person she was. But they were never given the other side of that Both Sides equation.

The CNN misfire was a classic example of what happens when journalists land sought-after interviews, in this case with members of Babbitt's family, and then spin the story in their favor. They tell the tale just as the interview subjects would want it to be told.

"She was brave. She came out that way. Always was that way," Babbitt's mother told CNN. "Elizabeth Babbitt grew up a tomboy in a suburb of San Diego. She kept pace with four brothers and their friends, riding bikes, jumping them over ramps, skateboarding and "playing in the dirt,"" CNN gently reported. As for the deadly insurrection, "I feel like she went to the Capitol because she felt like her voice wasn't being heard," Babbitt's brother told an understanding CNN.

It's impossible to think that if Babbitt weren't a white woman who grew up in suburban America that CNN would ever consider publishing a feel-good piece about a possible terrorist who's been turned into a martyr by the radical right. The report, with its soft family lens, reflects a larger media obsession over the last five years to help humanize Trump's extremist and dangerous white voter base.

Routinely depicted as hard-working folks in search of a political path, and thankful for Trump leadership, Trump voter coverage for years failed to pull back the curtain and reveal a small glimpse of the vicious mob that emerged in January. Even a Trump supporter who had nice things to say about Nazis received a gentle New York Times profile.

Last winter, as Trump supporters rallied around the deranged idea that the election had been stolen, too many journalists expressed empathy for them. In an interview with Vanity Fair, CNN's Jake Tapper said, "I feel sympathy for them, is the truth," he said. "I feel bad. They're outraged because they're being told things that aren't true."

In terms of CNN's Babbitt profile, there's nothing wrong with providing context and detail about her life, particularly since she seems to be a textbook example of someone whose life, even before January 6, was swallowed whole by the cultist, far-right movement to worship Trump like an idol. Since her death, friends have expressed shock at the fanatical and anger-filled turn her politics took, as well as the rabid and often incoherent screeds she began posting online. ("They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours.") If Babbitt wasn't a full-on QAnon devotee at the time of her death, she was awfully close.

But that's not the type of context CNN provided. Instead, the network worked overtime to play down Babbitt's actions on January 6, as well as the actions of thousands of insurrectionists who did their best to overthrow democracy by pummeling police officers for hours on end. Not once in the 2,000-word piece did CNN mention the raging violence that Trump's mob unleashed, as members of the Capitol police force battled in hand-to-hand combat with the remorseless, bloodthirsty gang.

One day before CNN published its insurrectionist valentine, the Department of Justice released additional head cam video from the riot, showing officers being mauled by the deranged mob. Specifically, it showed a retired NYPD officer charging through metal barricades and attacking police with a flagpole during the riot. "You communist motherfucker, fuck you!" the retired cop screamed, before pushing down the crowd-control barrier and swinging a flag pole. He then tackled and began beating an officer.

Multiply that by hundreds, if not thousands of times, to create the deranged bedlam of that day. More than 480 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riot. From a May report: "One video shows a rioter trying to rip off a police officer's gas mask, then picking up a baton and hitting officers with it. Another video shows a rioter punching officers while wearing gloves with metal knuckles."

But CNN's report breezed right past those difficult truths in order to present Babbitt as a slightly misunderstood "patriot," in the eyes of her family. CNN made no effort to get a comment from any members of the Capitol police force, some of whom had to beg for their lives at the hands of the January 6 mob that Babbitt so proudly championed.

Paul Gosar Pays Homage To Dead Insurrectionist — With U-2’s Tribute To MLK

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

These days, there's a pretty crowded field in the race for "worst member of Congress," but Rep. Paul Gosar showed over the weekend why he is firmly among the top contenders. As Senate Republicans blocked the January 6 commission, the Arizona Republican got the bright idea to pay tribute to a January 6 insurrectionist.

See for yourself.

Um, Doctor? Babbitt is no hero and no patriot.

Babbitt was a retired senior airman turned pool supply company owner and full-on QAnon supporter from San Diego. In her final moments, captured by live-streamers, the 35-year-old was seen trying to climb through a broken window in the Speaker's Lobby with a mob behind her, demanding that Capitol Police officers let them through. She then yelled "Go! Go!" to two men, who hoisted her through the window. A plainclothes officer shot her, mortally wounding her. Prosecutors rightly recommended not charging the officer who shot her.

It cannot be stated enough. A member of the U.S. House of Representatives saw fit to celebrate a woman who was taking part in an illegal and unconstitutional coup attempt.

Unsurprisingly, Gosar is getting pummeled for the tweet.

The lyrics in Gosar's tweet, of course, are from U2's 1984 hit "Pride (In the Name of Love)." The song is a tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., not traitors trying to overthrow democracy.

Daily Kos Community Contributor SemDem had some choice words for the deranged dentist.

This is but a tiny sample. This is how Gosar's feed looked when I saw this garbage last night.

2021-05-2822.11.02.pngOh, the ratio.

We already knew Gosar's moral compass was severely warped, of course. This is a guy who spoke at a white supremacist gathering, and whose own role in the events leading up to the insurrection unnerved him enough that he actually tried to get his orange messiah to pardon him. But this is a staggering failure to read the room, even for him.

Gosar may think he can avoid accountability for this. After all, he represents what is easily the most Republican district in the Mountain Time Zone that doesn't cover an entire state. It has a PVI of R+22, and Trump took 68% of the vote in both of his bids.

News flash, Paul: You're not going to get away with this thumb in the nose of every officer who had to endure that day's horror. The nation knows: If the party allows people like you to be empowered, then the GOP is unfit to govern.

New Capitol Riot Videos Pulled From Far-Right Parler Site

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

The man's smartphone camera pans the crowd on the east side of the U.S. Capitol. It's smaller than what had amassed on the west side, but still an impressive sight. As he pans from atop the steps, he gives a front-line dispatch at 2:10 p.m., an hour after President Donald Trump had finished his remarks goading on the thousands of supporters who had come to Washington to protest the official certification of his electoral defeat.

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