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'QAnon Shaman’ Lawyer Calls Capitol Rioters ‘Retarded’ And ‘Manipulated’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Jacob Chansley, dubbed the "QAnon Shaman" in the media, is among the most famous of the Capitol rioters who is facing federal criminal charges in connection with the January 6 insurrection. Albert Watkins, Chansley's attorney, discussed his client with Talking Points Memo's Matt Shuham — who reports that Watkins indicated that he is using his client's mental state as a defense.

Watkins told Shuham, "A lot of these defendants — and I'm going to use this colloquial term, perhaps disrespectfully — but they're all fucking short-bus people. These are people with brain damage, they're fucking retarded, they're on the goddamn spectrum. But they're our brothers, our sisters, our neighbors, our coworkers — they're part of our country. These aren't bad people; they don't have prior criminal history. Fuck, they were subjected to four-plus years of goddamn propaganda, the likes of which the world has not seen since fucking Hitler."

The propaganda that Watkins is obviously referring to is the propaganda of former President Donald Trump. The rioters who attacked the Capitol on January 6 bought into Trump's false and totally debunked claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. And Watkins is arguing that they were manipulated by the former president.

Watkins wrote that Chansley has been consistent "in his assertion that but for the actions and the words of the President, he would not have appeared in Washington, DC to support the President and, but for the specific words of the then-President during his January 6, 2021 speech, the Defendant would not have walked down Pennsylvania Avenue and would not have gone into the U.S. Capitol Building."

Judge Berates ‘QAnon Shaman’ For ‘Publicity Stunt’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Jacob Chansley, known as the so-called "QAnon Shaman," is among the many far-right extremists facing criminal charges in connection with the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building. When Chansley's attorney, Albert Watkins, appeared at a bail hearing last week on March 5, Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denounced Chansley's recent appearance on 60 Minutes Plus as a "media publicity stunt."

At the hearing, Watkins tried to convince Lamberth — a Ronald Reagan appointee — that his client should be released on bail before his trial. The 33-year-old Chansley is facing criminal charges that include violent entry, disorderly conduct and illegally entering restricted spaces.

During his 60 Minutes Plus appearance, Chansley tried to paint himself as a sympathetic figure. But Lamberth was not impressed and wanted to know why Chansley made that television appearance without his authorization. The judge asked Watkins, "Can you tell me how that came about?" and accused the attorney of using "subterfuge" to avoid jailhouse restrictions.

Lamberth did not grant the QAnon Shaman bail.

Watkins, at the hearing, told Lamberth, "It didn't occur to me that I wouldn't be able to capture the video image of my client in my office." And Watkins, in response to Lambert's allegation of "subterfuge," said, "It's just not my style."

Law & Crime reporter Adam KIasfeld notes that Watkins has been "depicting his client as a man inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, a believer in the principle of nonviolence toward all living beings called ahimsa — and a supposed shaman who allegedly would not crush a bug." But prosecutors have been stressing that the pole Chansley was carrying on Jan. 6 could have been used as a deadly weapon. And Chansley, according to court papers, left a threatening note for then-Vice President Mike Pence that described him as a "traitor" and read, "It's only a matter of time. Justice is coming."

The insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 were trying to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over then-President Donald Trump, who repeatedly made the false and debunked claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud. As part of the defense, Klasfeld points out, Chansley has tried to paint himself as someone who was duped and misled by Trump.

The January 6 insurrectionists believed that Pence betrayed Trump by not doing more to prevent Biden's certification, and some of them were calling for his murder and chanting, "Hang Mike Pence."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Louise Paschall, one of the federal prosecutors in Chansley's case, spoke by phone during the bail hearing and said, "We know how the defendant feels to this day about some of these issues because he has spoken to the press." And Chansley, Paschall said, obviously believes that the election was stolen from Trump "because he told 60 Minutes as much."

Why Is CBS ’60 Minutes’ Trying To Rehabilitate The Qanon ‘Shaman’?

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Arriving for the first jailhouse interview with the Trump insurrectionist known as the "QAnon Shaman," 60 Minutes+ this week provided a surprisingly gentle and understanding forum for someone who helped terrorize members of Congress on Jan. 6, when a murderous mob ransacked the U.S. Capitol.

Along with interviewing Jacob Chansley (aka the Shaman), CBS's Laurie Segall interviewed Chansley's mother who insisted her son is innocent of the six charges he faces after storming the Capitol, bare-chested and wearing a fur helmet with horns.

She claimed President Joe Biden had won the election "fraudulently," which is part of the GOP's Big Lie campaign. Her bogus election claim received no direct pushback from Segall. Why would CBS present someone as a credible person who thinks the election was stolen? 60 Minutes+ also allowed Chansley's mother to spout QAnon rhetoric about human trafficking without calling it out.

The whole CBS segment had the unfortunate feeling of a rehabilitation effort, and specifically the national press using a sympathetic lens through which to view white, right-wing political criminals. It's part of an ongoing, compassion campaign to better understand Trump sycophants who are so divorced from reality and the rule of law that they eagerly ransacked the Capitol in a dangerous effort to overturn an American election.

Are these really the type of people we need to better understand, the people who deserve a national platform? Isn't it just giving a megaphone to an insurrectionist who wants to rebrand himself on the eve of his court date, while expressing his deep admiration for Trump? (Segall: "What was it about Donald Trump that you felt so fiercely loyal to?")

"I consider myself a lover of my country. I consider myself a believer in the Constitution. I consider myself a believer in truth and our founding principles. I consider myself a believer in God," Chansley told CBS.

The interview felt like an extension of the media's four-year obsession with profiling Trump voters, and treating them as some sort of anointed tribe of captivating voters who represented the true, authentic voices of America. Not the backbone for a looming insurrection. Segall: "Do you still believe you're a patriot?"

Think of how many prisoners of color are sitting in jails across the country, unjustly convicted or facing disproportionately long prison sentences, and ask if the QAnon Shaman really deserves national attention to better tell his personal tale? Should CBS be working with the insurrectionist's defense attorney, who help set up the Q&A, because he desperately wants to clean up his client's public image in advance of a court proceeding? ("He's like a kid.")

House members this week were allowed to leave town Wednesday night after law enforcement warned about a possible militia-led attack on the Capitol because of the deranged conspiracy claim that on March 4, Trump would be inaugurated. Meaning, QAnon is not a curiosity. It's a collection of dangerous radicals who have already terrorized the country.

"The "QAnon Shaman" of the January 6th attack on the Capitol tells his story for the first time from jail," is how CBS promoted the report. But why we should care about "his story" was never explained. During the 20 minutes, viewers learned Chansley thinks he's innocent, thinks he didn't do anything wrong on Jan. 6 (i.e. it wasn't an "attack"), and that his intention that day was "to bring divinity, and to bring God back into the Senate." Viewers also learned that Chansley's family and his attorney agree he's innocent — not exactly ground-breaking stuff. What it really comes down to is 60 Minutes+ landed the interview, period, and thought that in and of itself was news.

Additional problems arose when Segall interviewed Chansley's mother, Martha Chansley, who justified her son's inclusion in the January mob by claiming the 2020 election was stolen. "I don't think it's right that [the election] was won fraudulently. I don't believe it was won fairly at all," she told CBS. Segall was not shown confronting that lie on camera. Instead, during a voice-over she said, "Both Jacob and Martha Chansley are part of a significant group of Americans who believe the 2020 election was fraudulent, that Donald Trump actually won."

Segall also gave Martha Chansley free rein to spew QAnon lies: "Jacob was exposing that and helping people to being formed; money laundering, human trafficking, all that ugly stuff. How all that revolves around our election and everything is it's part of the draining of the swamp." The CBS report then cut to Martha going through old photo albums as she, "paint[ed] a picture of Chansley's childhood."

Insurrectionists who spread bogus claims about human trafficking don't deserve to be the subject of human interest profiles by 60 Minutes.

CBS News Slammed For ‘Complicit’ Interview With QAnon Rioter

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Should Americans hear from an individual in jail facing felony charges related to their alleged participation in the January 6 insurrection, especially on the day terrorism experts say the QAnon cult might again engage in violence so dangerous the House has postponed business for the day?

Some are saying no, and blasting CBS News for promoting its jailhouse interview today with one of the most recognizable faces from the insurrection, Jacob Chansley, better known as the "QAnon Shaman."

Responding to a clip from its "60 Minutes +" interview with correspondent Laurie Segall that CBS News posted to Twitter, attorney Max Kennerly blasted the network:

He was far from the only one.

In an associated CBS News article the subhead reads: "Jacob Chansley, the man seen wearing face paint and a fur helmet with horns during the January 6 insurrection, tells 60 Minutes+ he was trying 'to bring God back to the Senate.'"

That article quotes Chansley extensively, in part saying, "My actions were not an attack on this country," and, "I sang a song. And that's a part of shamanism… I also stopped people from stealing and vandalizing that sacred space, the Senate. Okay? I actually stopped somebody from stealing muffins out of the– out of the break room."

Others tweeted out the CBS video, with some saying: "giving this man a platform to whine about being a victim seems irresponsible," "Maybe you should be interviewing some of the researchers who have been following QAnon for a long time and warning about the dangers of it. But you'd rather interview Qbacca, because putting freaks on the air is good for ratings," "Why do we care about his story? WHY?! This man is a traitor and insurrection leader. WHY?!!," "What have you contributed to journalism's advancement today…nada," "Christ we love handing extremists microphones in this country," and "WHY ARE YOU ALLOWING DOMESTIC TERRORISTS AIRTIME," among many others.

The article quotes Chansley extensively, and ends with this paragraph, which reads more like a press release than a news article: "Segall's report, including her remote interview with Chansley, can be seen on 60 Minutes+, a new show available on ViacomCBS' new streaming platform, Paramount+."