The late Paul Harvey’s iconic “the rest of the story” isn’t quite as ugly as this story itself, which I wrote about here. It does, however, put a cap on one more disgusting example of the news media deliberately engaging in fake news reporting to advance a partisan agenda.
Let’s use CNN’s report, since we know if there was any way out, any way to spin the story and keep the false narrative going, the network of Fredo, Don Lemon and the atrocious Brian Stelter would try it. Nope, though the medical examiner did his best:
US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick suffered strokes and died of natural causes one day after responding to the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, Washington DC’s chief medical examiner has determined.The medical examiner, Francisco Diaz, didn’t note any evidence that Sicknick had an allergic reaction to chemical spray or list any internal or external injuries, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the ruling. Still, Diaz told the newspaper that “all that transpired” on January 6 “played a role in his condition.”The ruling all but ensures that the Justice Department won’t be able to pursue homicide charges in Sicknick’s death. In March, two men — Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, and George Pierre Tanios, 39, of West Virginia — were arrested and charged with assaulting Sicknick.
The reason they can’t be prosecuted is that there is no evidence that Sicknick’s death was connected to the January 6 riots in any way. There never was. Diaz’s gratuitous claim that “all that transpired played a role in his condition” is just face-saving hackery.
What does that even mean? “Played a role”? Either something that happened at the Capitol killed him or it didn’t. Did Sicknick die of a broken heart to see America’s house sullied by an angry mob? HOW did the events “play a role”? Diaz doesn’t say, meaning he’s engaging in irresponsible speculation to give the lying journalists something to cling to. The statement breaks down to “post hoc ergo propter hoc“—a logical fallacy so well-known and ancient that it’s in Latin: “After this, ergo because of this.” There is no reason to believe that Sicknick would not have died if nothing had happened at the Capitol.
Note also that CNN is sticking with “insurrection,” a description it has not applied to any of the far more violent and lengthy takeovers of government buildings during the George Floyd Freakout. We learned this week that with even a half-competent response from the Capitol police, the gang of idiots would never have made it inside the Capitol. They had no firearms; they were a mob of about 300; they had as much chance of taking over the government or having any substantive impact whatsoever as Shirley Temple had to be an Olympic powerlifting gold medalist.
But never mind that: this is business as usual for all of the mainstream news media. The AUC memo went out that January 6 was an “insurrection” because that was going to be the way they finally “got” Donald Trump: accuse him of plotting “a violent uprising against the government,” and the memo never was retracted. Sicknick’s death at the hands of the rebels was a key part of the fiction, so it was repeated over and over, even in the Senate trial by the House prosecution as fact. The Biden Administration and Democrats were accomplices: they took the nauseatingly cynical step of staging a Capitol Rotunda viewing of Sicknick’s casket, which made the lie that “he died defending his country” vivid and dramatic (and cheapened the honor, which only a handful of ordinary citizens have been awarded).
When the “they hit him over the head with a fire extinguisher” tale didn’t pan out, they went with the “He died because they sprayed him with bear spray,” or he was caught in a bear spray crossfire, or something. Yes, the President of the United Sates plotted an insurrection that would take over the nation using bear spray and fire extinguishers. Diabolical!
As the substack reporter did when the Sicknick story first started falling apart, Glenn Greenwald has given us the best dose of undiluted contempt for how it was handled, writing yesterday in part,
It was crucial for liberal sectors of the media to invent and disseminate a harrowing lie about how Officer Brian Sicknick died. That is because he is the only one they could claim was killed by pro-Trump protesters at the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
So The New York Times on January 8 published an emotionally gut-wrenching but complete fiction that never had any evidence — that Officer Sicknick’s skull was savagely bashed in with a fire extinguisher by a pro-Trump mob until he died — and, just like the now-discredited Russian bounty story also unveiled by that same paper, cable outlets and other media platforms repeated this lie over and over in the most emotionally manipulative way possible…But the gruesome story of Sicknick’s “murder” was too valuable to allow any questioning. It was weaponized over and over to depict the pro-Trump mob not as just violent but barbaric and murderous, because if Sicknick weren’t murdered by them, then nobody was (without Sicknick, the only ones killed were four pro-Trump supporters: two who died of a heart attack, one from an amphetamine overdose, and the other, Ashli Babbitt, who was shot point blank in the neck by Capitol Police despite being unarmed). So crucial was this fairy tale about Sicknick that it made its way into the official record of President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, and they had Joe Biden himself recite from the script, even as clear facts mounted proving it was untrue….
Truth matters. Noble lies are never justified no matter the cause, especially in journalism. But these employees of corporate media outlets have been taught the exact opposite model: that their primary obligation is to please and flatter the partisan agenda and political sensibilities of their audience even if it means lying or recklessly spreading unproven theories to do it. That is their profit model. And they have trained their audiences to want and expect this and that is why they never feel compelled to engage in any self-critique or accountability when they get caught doing this: their audiences want to be lied to — they are grateful for it — and would prefer that they not admit they did it so that their partisan interests will not be undermined.
What is most depressing about this entire spectacle is that, this time, they exploited the tragic death of a young man to achieve their tawdry goals. They never cared in the slightest about Officer Brian Sicknick. They had just spent months glorifying a protest movement whose core view is that police officers are inherently racist and abusive. He had just become their toy, to be played with and exploited in order to depict the January 6 protest as a murderous orgy carried out by savages so primitive and inhuman that they were willing to fatally bash in the skull of a helpless person or spray them with deadly gases until they choked to death on their own lung fluids. None of it was true, but that did not matter — and it still does not to them — because truth, as always, has nothing to do with their actual function. If anything, truth is an impediment to it.