Embarking on a vast propaganda campaign designed to erase one of the deadliest bouts of domestic, political terrorism in this country, Trump media and their GOP acolytes are moving quickly to peddle the next Big Lie, claiming that the January 6 insurrection never happened.
At this point, there’s nothing too big for the right-wing noise machine to try to whitewash and gaslight — like the fact that a pro-Trump horde was responsible for breaking into the U.S. Capitol, attempted to disrupt the congressional vote certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory, and then chanted death threats against then-Vice President Mike Pence.
Yet leading the charge on Sunday, Trump during a Fox interview called the insurrection "a lovefest between the Capitol police and the people that walked down to the Capitol” that day. He insisted the protesters were “peaceful.”
Last week, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson referred to “the fake” January 6th insurrection, where "elderly people showed up with signs at the Capitol." Carlson previously suggested the Capitol insurrection was orchestrated by the FBI as a false flag in an effort to “suppress political dissent.” He’s also repeatedly insisting there was “no insurrection” and that it was nothing more than a “political protest that got out of hand.”
The Big Lie about the insurrection now rests alongside the GOP’s Big Lie about the election being stolen.
What’s unfolding now within the far-right fever swamp is a Kremlin-style indoctrination that aims to re-educate millions of Americans. It’s being done just as more police videos from the shockingly violent, mob-soaked day are released as part of court proceedings. (“You’re going to die tonight” one Trump thug screams at a Capitol cop.) Also, The New York Times recently created an extraordinarily detailed, minute-by-minute video chronology of the insurrection carnage.
Fact: Seven people died in connection with the January 6 violence, including two suicides in the following days. More than 535 rioters have since been charged with crimes. At least 70 defendants have been ordered to stay in jail. And nearly 150 police officers were assaulted that day.
The GOP’s increasingly brazen behavior is difficult to describe using the traditional language applied to mainstream American politics. This is far more cultish conduct where all semblance of reality is stripped away and the pursuit of the fever dream (the insurrection never happened!) becomes the ultimate prize. This more resembles a mass brainwashing exercise, that’s being fueled by dangerous and radical media players.
Since January, Republicans and the right-wing media have gone from downplaying the insurrection and denying their own involvement in the riot, to now denying it ever happened.
The problem for the GOP and Fox News is that politically, the insurrection remains a huge problem if Trump wants to run again in 2024. The challenge being that the insurrection was one of the most recorded current events in our lifetime, as the deadly riot unfolded live on national television and was captured on thousands of smart phone clips, which were soon plastered onto social media.
So now there’s a huge effort underway to try to neutralize the event. “By and large, it was peaceful protest, except for there were a number of people, basically agitators that whipped the crowd and breached the Capitol,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) recently insisted.
“Let’s be honest with the American people — it was not an insurrection, and we cannot call it that and be truthful,” claimed Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) earlier this year. He added that the rioters looked like they were on a “normal tourist visit.”
“People who call the few-hour riot at the Capitol by unarmed protesters an "insurrection" are bad people who are harming the country,” claimed Trump journalist Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist, who dismissed the protesters as nothing more than, “Mr. Buffalo Head or Grandma-in-the-Rotunda, or Mr. Feet on Desk.”
As for Fox News’ role, it’s always simple to predict where the network will land on a controversial topic — just assume the worst. Back in January when Fox News was doing its best to downplay the insurrection story, the smart money was not assuming that that strategy would remain static and they would be content to turn away from the most important and dangerous domestic uprising in modern American history. The smart money was to assume that over time Fox News would become aggressively more awful and irresponsible, which is where Carlson now resides — the bloody insurrection was just a bunch of senior citizens marching around with signs.
That detached-from-reality message has been widely amplified by Trump’s allies in the media. Former journalist and current conservative advocate Glenn Greenwald, who publishes a pro-Trump newsletter, has spent most of this year frantically trying to downplay the January 6 riot.
He recently mocked Vice for publishing a detailed piece about the emotional strains journalists who covered the insurrection violence up-close are still facing — Greenwald’s point being that the riot was no big deal and that reporters are being overly dramatic.
Trump cheerleaders have made it official: There’s a new Big Lie to tell.