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Even after being exposed for having falsely claimed that U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick had died from having his head bashed in by a fire extinguisher-wielding Trump supporter, the media is still reporting fake news about the Jan. 6th riot.
The latest fake news began with congressional Democrats, but quickly spread to every corner of the mainstream media thanks to an unwillingness to check facts.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Politico “reporters” Olivia Beavers and Sarah Ferris published a letter purporting to be from the “U.S. Capitol Police” expressing “profound disappointment” with Republicans for not supporting Democrats’ demands for a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The letter was reportedly obtained from the offices of Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat.
Here’s a screenshot of Beavers’ since-deleted tweet:
And here’s the background information provided by Ferris:
This letter was sent to House chiefs today from Rep. Raskin’s office, who has been “in discussions with several rank-and-file Capitol Police officers who are his constituents. He has listened to them describe their physical and emotional traumas… https://t.co/KXd4MsBC1A
— Sarah Ferris (@sarahnferris) May 19, 2021
From Raskin’s office: “Attached is a letter from unnamed officers (who remain anonymous because they are afraid of retribution for speaking out) about their profound disappointment in the current politics surrounding the vote on the January 6th commission.”
— Sarah Ferris (@sarahnferris) May 19, 2021
The story quickly spread to every corner of the media and social media, but there was a problem: It wasn’t an official statement, despite Beavers’ portrayal otherwise.
“A statement is circling on social media, which expresses an opinion about the proposed legislation to create a commission to investigate January 6. This is NOT an official USCP statement,” the official USCP Twitter account confirmed in a tweet posted around 5:30 pm.
“The Department has no way of confirming it was even authored by USCP personnel. The U.S. Capitol Police does NOT take positions on legislation,” the tweet continued.
USCP does NOT take positions on legislation. pic.twitter.com/LSu38jbIqd
— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) May 19, 2021
So who wrote it?
In a report filed slightly later that evening, CNN’s Zachary Cohen claimed that he’d spoken “to the officer who wrote the letter” and obtained confirmation that “it represents the views of 40-50 officers.”
However, he noted that he couldn’t “independently verify other officers supported the letter.”
CNN spoke to the officer who wrote the letter who said it represents the views of 40-50 officers.
“It needed to be out there. It needed to be done,” the officer told @jamiegangel. CNN could not independently verify other officers supported the letter.
— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) May 19, 2021
According to the USCP, the department contains 2,300 officers, meaning that even if the man whom Cohen spoke to told the truth, the letter only represented a maximum of two percent of the Capitol Police force.
But thanks to Politico’s flawed reporting, an untold number of Americans were led to think otherwise and may very well still think otherwise.
5,000+ RTs on the false tweet
33 RTs on the clarification pic.twitter.com/71cT2l4uKN
— Nathan Brand (@NathanBrandWA) May 19, 2021
So one anonymous officer wrote it, claims it represents views of 40-50 out of USCP’s ~2,300 officers & civilians, put it on official USCP letterhead, Raskin circulated it, & a Politico reporter made it go viral by falsely claiming it was an official statement from Capitol Police. https://t.co/fc6RZOGcng
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) May 19, 2021
This comes as the public’s trust in the media continues to decline because of the media’s rank inability — or perhaps refusal — to be careful with narratives that hurt the Republican Party.
The media got it wrong with Sicknick, whom the evidence later confirmed had died of natural causes after experiencing strokes. The media also got it wrong with the now-debunked Russian bounty story. And the media of course got it spectacularly wrong with the Russian collusion hoax.
The latter mistake is particularly relevant because just this week, only days after Russian hackers shut down a major East Coast pipeline, Democrat President Joe Biden rolled back the Trump administration’s blocking of the construction of a Russian pipeline.
Writing about the contrast between the Trump administration’s actions, the Biden’s administration actions and how they relate to the Russian collusion hoax, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald noted in Substack that “Obama was significantly more accommodating of Putin than Trump ever was.”
“And after just four months in office, the same is true of Biden. But for a media devoted to an agenda rather than truth, the inexorable destruction of their conspiracy theory does not matter,” he added.
His point was that members of the media seem obsessed with pursuing narratives that hurt the Republican Party, even when those narratives are patently false and sometimes even outright fictional.
But as noted by Curtis Houck, the managing editor of the conservative watchdog group NewsBusters, there will likely be “no accountability” for any of the media’s false narratives.
I think it’s safe to say there will be absolutely no accountability for this Capitol Police letter, its leak by Raskin’s office, and the initial media coverage of it.
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) May 19, 2021
The same goes for Democrats, who were apparently responsible for circulating the fake UCPS letter in the first place.
The only things that remain unknown are how the officers responsible for the letter got hold of official UCPS stationary, and why Raskin’s office made no attempts to find the answer for itself.
Really bad look for the Raskin team. https://t.co/nmE230SBKE
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) May 19, 2021
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