Glenn Greenwald Inconvenient Truths

The False and Exaggerated Claims Still Being Spread About the Capitol Riot

Insisting on factual accuracy does not make one an apologist for the protesters. False reporting is never justified, especially to inflate threat and fear levels.
Flash grenade illuminates occupation of Capitol by MAGA insurrectionists. [AP]

By Glenn Greenwald / Substack

What took place at the Capitol on January 6 was undoubtedly a politically motivated riot. As such, it should not be controversial to regard it as a dangerous episode. Any time force or violence is introduced into what ought to be the peaceful resolution of political conflicts, it should be lamented and condemned.

But none of that justifies lying about what happened that day, especially by the news media. Condemning that riot does not allow, let alone require, echoing false claims in order to render the event more menacing and serious than it actually was. There is no circumstance or motive that justifies the dissemination of false claims by journalists. The more consequential the event, the less justified, and more harmful, serial journalistic falsehoods are.

Yet this is exactly what has happened, and continues to happen, since that riot almost seven weeks ago. And anyone who tries to correct these falsehoods is instantly attacked with the cynical accusation that if you want only truthful reporting about what happened, then you’re trying to “minimize” what happened and are likely an apologist for if not a full-fledged supporter of the protesters themselves.

One of the most significant of these falsehoods was the tale — endorsed over and over without any caveats by the media for more than a month — that Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick was murdered by the pro-Trump mob when they beat him to death with a fire extinguisher. That claim was first published by The New York Times on January 8 in an article headlined “Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump Rampage.” It cited “two [anonymous] law enforcement officials” to claim that Sicknick died “with the mob rampaging through the halls of Congress” and after he “was struck with a fire extinguisher.”

A second New York Times article from later that day — bearing the more dramatic headline: “He Dreamed of Being a Police Officer, Then Was Killed by a Pro-Trump Mob” — elaborated on that story:

The New York Times, in a now-”updated” article, Jan. 8, 2021

After publication of these two articles, this horrifying story about a pro-Trump mob beating a police officer to death with a fire extinguisher was repeated over and over, by multiple journalists on television, in print, and on social media. It became arguably the single most-emphasized and known story of this event, and understandably so — it was a savage and barbaric act that resulted in the harrowing killing by a pro-Trump mob of a young Capitol police officer.

It took on such importance for a clear reason: Sicknick’s death was the only example the media had of the pro-Trump mob deliberately killing anyone. In a January 11 article detailing the five people who died on the day of the Capitol protest, the New York Times again told the Sicknick story: “Law enforcement officials said he had been ‘physically engaging with protesters’ and was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.”

But none of the other four deaths were at the hands of the protesters: the only other person killed with deliberate violence was a pro-Trump protester, Ashli Babbitt, unarmed when shot in the neck by a police officer at close range. The other three deaths were all pro-Trump protesters: Kevin Greeson, who died of a heart attack outside the Capitol; Benjamin Philips, 50, “the founder of a pro-Trump website called Trumparoo,” who died of a stroke that day; and Rosanne Boyland, a fanatical Trump supporter whom the Times says was inadvertently “killed in a crush of fellow rioters during their attempt to fight through a police line.”

This is why the fire extinguisher story became so vital to those intent on depicting these events in the most violent and menacing light possible. Without Sicknick having his skull bashed in with a fire extinguisher, there were no deaths that day that could be attributed to deliberate violence by pro-Trump protesters. Three weeks later, The Washington Post said dozens of officers (a total of 140) had various degrees of injuries, but none reported as life-threatening, and at least two police officers committed suicide after the riot. So Sicknick was the only person killed who was not a pro-Trump protester, and the only one deliberately killed by the mob itself.

It is hard to overstate how pervasive this fire extinguisher story became. Over and over, major media outlets and mainstream journalists used this story to dramatize what happened:

Clockwise: Tweet of Associated Press, Jan. 29; Tweet of NBC’s Richard Engel, Jan. 9; Tweet of the Lincoln Project’s Fred Willman, Jan. 29; Tweet of The New York Times’ Nicholas Kirstof, Jan. 9

Television hosts gravely intoned when telling this story, manipulating viewers’ emotions by making them believe the mob had done something unspeakably barbaric:

After the media bombarded Americans with this story for a full month without pause, it took center stage at Trump’s impeachment process. As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy noted, the article of impeachment itself stated that “Trump supporters ‘injured and killed law enforcement personnel.’” The House impeachment managers explicitly claimed on page 28 of their pretrial memorandum that “the insurrectionists killed a Capitol Police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher.”

Once the impeachment trial ended in an acquittal, President Joe Biden issued a statement and referenced this claim in the very first paragraph. Sicknick, said the President, lost “his life while protecting the Capitol from a violent, riotous mob on January 6, 2021.”

The problem with this story is that it is false in all respects. From the start, there was almost no evidence to substantiate it. The only basis were the two original New York Times articles asserting that this happened based on the claim of anonymous law enforcement officials.

Despite this alleged brutal murder taking place in one of the most surveilled buildings on the planet, filled that day with hundreds of cellphones taping the events, nobody saw video of it. No photographs depicted it. To this day, no autopsy report has been released. No details from any official source have been provided.

Not only was there no reason to believe this happened from the start, the little that was known should have caused doubt. On the same day the Times published its two articles with the “fire extinguisher” story, ProPublica published one that should have raised serious doubts about it.

The outlet interviewed Sicknick’s brother, who said that “Sicknick had texted [the family] Wednesday night to say that while he had been pepper-sprayed, he was in good spirits.” That obviously conflicted with the Times’ story that the mob “overpowered Sicknick” and “struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher,” after which, “with a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support.”

But no matter. The fire extinguisher story was now a matter of lore. Nobody could question it. And nobody did: until after a February 2 CNN article that asked why nobody has been arrested for what clearly was the most serious crime committed that day: the brutal murder of Officer Sicknick with a fire extinguisher. Though the headline gave no hint of this, the middle of the article provided evidence which essentially declared the original New York Times story false:

In Sicknick’s case, it’s still not known publicly what caused him to collapse the night of the insurrection. Findings from a medical examiner’s review have not yet been released and authorities have not made any announcements about that ongoing process.

According to one law enforcement official, medical examiners did not find signs that the officer sustained any blunt force trauma, so investigators believe that early reports that he was fatally struck by a fire extinguisher are not true.

The CNN story speculates that perhaps Sicknick inhaled “bear spray,” but like the ProPublica interview with his brother who said he inhaled pepper spray, does not say whether it came from the police or protesters. It is also just a theory. CNN noted that investigators are “vexed by a lack of evidence that could prove someone caused his death as he defended the Capitol during last month’s insurrection.” Beyond that, “to date, little information has been shared publicly about the circumstances of the death of the 13-year veteran of the police force, including any findings from an autopsy that was conducted by DC’s medical examiner.”

Few noticed this remarkable admission buried in this article. None of this was seriously questioned until a relatively new outlet called Revolver News on February 9 compiled and analyzed all the contradictions and lack of evidence in the prevailing story, after which Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, citing that article, devoted the first eight minutes of his February 10 program to examining these massive evidentiary holes.

That caused right-wing media outlets to begin questioning what happened, but mainstream liberal outlets — those who spread the story aggressively in the first place — largely and predictably ignored it all.

This week, the paper that first published the false story — in lieu of a retraction or an explanation of how and why it got the story wrong — simply went back to the first two articles, more than five weeks later, and quietly posted what it called an “update” at the top of both five-week-old articles:

Caption that now sits atop both New York Times articles from Jan. 8 about Officer SIcknick’s death.

With the impeachment trial now over, the articles are now rewritten to reflect that the original story was false. But there was nothing done by The New York Times to explain an error of this magnitude, let alone to try to undo the damage it did by misleading the public. They did not expressly retract or even “correct” the story. Worse, there is at least one article of theirs, the January 11 one that purports to describe how the five people died that day, which continues to include the false “fire extinguisher” story with no correction or update.

The fire extinguisher tale was far from the only false or dubious claim that the media caused to circulate about the events that day. In some cases, they continue to circulate them.

In the days after the protest, numerous viral tweets pointed to a photograph of Eric Munchel with zip-ties. The photo was used continually to suggest that he took those zip-ties into the Capitol because of a premeditated plot to detain lawmakers and hold them hostagePolitico described Munchel as “the man who allegedly entered the Senate chamber during the Capitol riot while carrying a taser and zip-tie handcuffs.”


The Washington Post used the images to refer to “chatters in far-right forums explicitly discussing how to storm the building, handcuff lawmakers with zip ties.” That the zip-tie photo of Munchel made the Capitol riot far more than a mere riot carried out by a band of disorganized misfits, but rather a nefarious and well-coordinated plot to kidnap members of Congress, became almost as widespread as the fire extinguisher story. Yet again, it was The New York Times that led the way in consecrating maximalist claims. “FBI Arrests Man Who Carried Zip Ties Into Capitol,” blared the paper’s headline on January 10, featuring the now-iconic photo of Munchel at the top.

But on January 21, the “zip-tie man’s” own prosecutors admitted none of that was true. He did not take zip-ties with him from home or carry them into the Capitol. Instead, he found them on a table, and took them to prevent their use by the police:

Eric Munchel, a pro-Trump rioter who stormed the Capitol building while holding plastic handcuffs, took the restraints from a table inside the Capitol building, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.

Munchel, who broke into the building with his mom, was labeled “zip-tie guy” after he was photographed barreling down the Senate chamber holding the restraints. His appearance raised questions about whether the insurrectionists who sought to stop Congress from counting Electoral College votes on January 6 also intended to take lawmakers hostage.

But according to the new filing, Munchel and his mother took the handcuffs from within the Capitol building – apparently to ensure the Capitol Police couldn’t use them on the insurrectionists – rather than bring them in when they initially breached the building.

(A second man whose photo with zip-ties later surfaced similarly told Ronan Farrow that he found them on the floor, and the FBI has acknowledged it has no evidence to the contrary).

Why does this matter? For the same reason media outlets so excitedly seized on this claim. If Munchel had brought zip-ties with him, that would be suggestive of a premeditated plot to detain people: quite terrorizing, as it suggests malicious and well-planned intent. But he instead just found them on a table by happenstance and, according to his own prosecutors, grabbed them with benign intent.

Then, perhaps most importantly, is the ongoing insistence on calling the Capitol riot an armed insurrection. Under the law, an insurrection is one of the most serious crises that can arise. It allows virtually unlimited presidential powers — which is why there was so much angst when Tom Cotton proposed it in his New York Times op-ed over the summer, publication of which resulted in the departure of two editors. Insurrection even allows for the suspension by the president of habeas corpus: the right to be heard in court if you are detained.

So it matters a great deal legally, but also politically, if the U.S. really did suffer an armed insurrection and continues to face one. Though there is no controlling, clear definition, that term usually connotes not a three-hour riot but an ongoing, serious plot by a faction of the citizenry to overthrow or otherwise subvert the government.

Just today, PolitiFact purported to “fact-check” a statement from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) made on Monday. Sen. Johnson told a local radio station:

“The fact of the matter is this didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me. I mean armed, when you hear armed, don’t you think of firearms? Here’s the questions I would have liked to ask. How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired? I’m only aware of one, and I’ll defend that law enforcement officer for taking that shot.

The fact-checking site assigned the Senator its “Pants on Fire” designation for that statement, calling it “ridiculous revisionist history.” But the “fact-checkers” cannot refute a single claim he made. At least from what is known publicly, there is no evidence of a single protester wielding let alone using a firearm inside the Capitol on that day. As indicated, the only person to have been shot was a pro-Trump protester killed by a Capitol police officer, and the only person said to have been killed by the protesters, Officer Sicknick, died under circumstances that are still completely unclear.

That protesters were found before and after the riot with weapons does not mean they intended to use them as part of the protest. For better or worse, the U.S. is a country where firearm possession is common and legal. And what we know for certain is that there is no evidence of anyone brandishing a gun in that building. That fact makes a pretty large dent in the attempt to characterize this as an “armed insurrection” rather than a riot.

Indeed, the most dramatic claims spread by the media to raise fear levels as high as possible and depict this as a violent insurrection have turned out to be unfounded or were affirmatively disproven.

On January 15, Reuters published an article about the arrest of the “Q-Shaman,” Jacob Chansley, headlined “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials.” It claimed that “federal prosecutors offered an ominous new assessment of last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters on Thursday, saying in a court filing that rioters intended ‘to capture and assassinate elected officials.’” Predictably, that caused viral social media postings from mainstream reporters and prominent pundits, such as Harvard Law’s Laurence Tribe, manifesting in the most ominous tones possible:

Shortly thereafter, however, a DOJ “official walked back a federal claim that Capitol rioters ‘intended capture and assassinate elected officials.’” Specifically, “Washington’s acting U.S. Attorney, Michael Sherwin, said in a telephone briefing, ‘There is no direct evidence at this point of kill-capture teams and assassination.’”

NBC News, Jan. 15, 2021

Over and over, no evidence has emerged for the most melodramatic media claims — torn out Panic Buttons and plots to kill Vice President Mike Pence or Mitt Romney. What we know for certain, as The Washington Post noted this week, is that “Despite warnings of violent plots around Inauguration Day, only a smattering of right-wing protesters appeared at the nation’s statehouses.” That does not sound like an ongoing insurrection, to put it mildly.

All this matters because it inherently matters if the media is recklessly circulating falsehoods about the most inflammatory and significant news stories. As was true for their series of Russiagate debacles, even if each “mistake” standing alone can be dismissed as relatively insignificant or understandable, when they pile up — always in the same narrative direction — people rightly conclude the propaganda is deliberate and trust in journalism erodes further.

But in this case, this matters for reasons far more significant than corporate media’s attempt to salvage the last vestiges of their credibility. Washington, D.C. remains indefinitely militarized. The establishment wings of both parties are still exploiting the emotions surrounding the Capitol breach to justify a new domestic War on Terror. The FBI is on the prowl for dissidents on the right and the left, and online censorship in the name of combatting domestic terrorism continues to rise.

One can — and should — condemn the January 6 riot without inflating the threat it posed. And one can — and should — insist on both factual accuracy and sober restraint without standing accused of sympathy for the rioters.


    1. What does the average American really know about what happened on January 6th in or around the U.S. Capital Building?

      What we know is exactly what CNN, MSNBC and the other commercial “news” outlets have “allowed” us to know.

      Whether it through video feeds that show only Donald Trump only minutes before, imploring and possibly inciting his follows to walk down to the Capital building and “take their country back,” with Trump suggesting that he would “be there with you.”

      What we otherwise know are the bits and pieces of “news” that have been repeated, (not reported), ad nauseam on any one of many commercial media platforms; which tend to repeat the same 1 to 3 minute sound bites over and over and over again ipso facto, regardless of whether it is CNN’s Anderson Copper, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow or one of the stoic dowagers that grace the evening news set on PBS.

      What we do know, or what should be clear to anyone with a TV and a third grade working knowledge of civics is that a riot occurred on the steps of the U.S. Capital Building on the morning of January 6, 2021.

      A riot that then spilled into the building and throughout parts of the the ground floor and possibly other areas of the Capital, resulting untold amounts pf property damage and, from what we are told, several human fatalities as a direct result of, or in the aftermath of the mayhem.

      This is clear and does not need to be debated any further by ANYONE. Whether it is Glenn Greenwald or Glenn Beck!

      If you possess even a modicum of understanding about civil order it should be reasonably easy to conclude that what happened on the morning of January 6th was;

      1) almost certain to be against the law;

      2) instigated by the speech that Donald Trump had delivered only moments before the rioters set forth in the direction of the Capital steps.

      The mayhem that ensued after they arrived at the Capital has been variously referred to as a “riot,” and in some circles an “insurrection.”

      Since the average TV viewer or cable TV newscaster is probably not a district attorney or a constitutional scholar it cannot be said with certainty whether the events of January 6th were a mere riot or an actually insurrection against the U.S. Government.

      What is clear is that Donald Trump played no small role instigating the entire event. As did Josh Hawley, Mo Brooks, Ted Cruz and any number of senators and congressional representatives who voiced loud support for Trump and the pro-Trump mob either before, during or after the attack.

      This too is clear and does not need to be debated any further!

      What is also clear is that Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi have been unmoved to action by the events of January 6th, in spite of the fact that Pence and Pelosi were reported to be the political targets that inspired the mob’s riotous actions.

      What is also clear is that the United States Senate has found itself to be insufficiently inspired that the majority of the body was perfectly content to allow Donald Trump to walk away from the carnage with not so much as a scratch on his Presidential pension!

      This too is clear and does not need to be debated any further!

      Lastly, what is most clear and unquestioned at this point is that justice has NOT been served and the United States cannot claim to be a nation that respects the rule of law until such time that Donald Trump and his son along with Hawley, Brooks, Cruz, Margery Green and others have been indicted, tried and convicted on charges that may well amount to insurrection, in additional to any number of federal and states law which are certain to have been broken on January 6, 2021.

      Failure to act is an endorsement of the actions of Donald Trump and his riotous supporters which includes any number of elected members of the U.S. Congress!

      1. I’ll agree with that if you can if you can agree that what happened at the capitol was only a fraction of what the US govt has done and continues to do in other countries. If that was an insurrection I wouldn’t even know what to call what we incite elsewhere. The only adequate “justice” would be that in light of seeing how unnerving a “potential insurrection” can be, we outlaw the interference of elections in other countries for starters and maybe work our way towards dismantling our violent coup machine. Then, maybe I’d go along with indicting trump. Otherwise it’s hypocritical bullshit.

  1. I agree with everything you said, however, it was clearly an out of control angry mob and who knows what might have happened had they had physical access to Pence, Pelosi, Schumer, et al? The tone of your article seems to understate the threat this riot posed.

    1. The NyTimes is the mouthpiece of the establishment. It is on a very slippery downward spiral . It’s not news. It is propaganda ! Think Iraq war !!

      1. Think all the lies and half-truths that are now being published about China. We are living in the real 1984, where propaganda is both pervasive and invisible.

    2. James Gala:
      True. That is what is disturbing about this writing by GG. Clearly in the news replays of the repeated chants of “Hang Mike Pence”; the displayed violence of the crowd and the pre-speech by then president DT ties into what I called an “…..act of sedition.” As far as officer Sidnick and how he died that could remain obscured until we do get a more transparent picture.

  2. I find it fascinating that the one woman crushed to death hasn’t gotten much media attention. The New York Times finally did an expose including videos how the angry mobsters walked trampled on her to reach to hit cops with their hockey stick and flag pole, ignoring her friend screaming, “she’s dying, she’s dead, Roseanne, Roseanne!” on one officer’s body cam. I don’t believe she was any more fanatic than the others. As for the cop who died, it has been speculated he had an allergic reaction to bear spray, but other officers were hit in the head with fire extinguishers as shown on video. I can’t wait to see what comes out when/IF the Capitol Police break their silence. The two who suicided makes me think this riot was even more horrific than we’ve been shown. “Kill him with his own gun” heard the cop who was tasered several time in the neck causing a heart attack.

    1. Sharon you didn’t read the hole story. No fire extinguisher used. Also did you ever stop to think the when Roseanne Boyland’s friend was screaming for help to the crowd, they jumped in to help get the cops off her and stop beating her? There are pictures that show a railing that hockey stick guy is reaching over (no being able to trample her) and is going after the cops (missing the cops half the time). People emerged in other videos saying they watched the cops kill a girl. They trampled her. Why is no one Investugating this. There is tons of video and pictures out there. People just repeat what the news says,, but no one researches. Why has her cause of death not been released yet. Did the cops beat her The? The whole thing is disturbing.

      1. Paul, please don’t tell me I didn’t read the whole story. I wonder where you got the idea any cops did anything other than defend themselves. And I saw the various videos on the NYT story that showed many different views of RIOTERS trampling on the woman, and one man giving her CPR before 4 men took her to the door, conversed with the cops, at no point did anyone say it was police that trampled her, yet there was an eyewitness saying she was purple by the time the crowd members took her into the capitol. Not in the NYT but there IS video of a fire extinguisher thrown at cops, hitting three cops in the head, one without a helmet. It said none of the three were Sicknick. I don’t remember where I read that but there WERE fire extinguishers thrown.

        I came here to put this link because this white male reporter wrote about this just like GG and quoted GG in his article. I know when I watched the riot on live tv, I had a visceral drop in my stomach, reminding me of the fear I felt occasionally growing up in the city of Detroit. To minimize this to slam main stream media isn’t any better than the accusations of overdramatizing it. Sadly laughable that it is the other extreme, equally not cool.

  3. Exploitation of a situation by overstating it and blatantly using it for political gain has become the MO of the Democratic Party to a fault.
    I resigned from the Democratic party because years ago I directly witnesses the falsification of absentee ballots. Do you want to know how they did it? At that time mostly elderly people who could not read very well needed help filling out the ballot. And the Dems, district chairpersons would volunteer to (assist) the elderly. This innocent assisting won many elections. So by rabidly denying the falsification of ballots in the Trump election, the Dems just used slight of hand tactics that they do so cleverly. They are evil.

    1. Give us place and names and the details of the investigation that ensued when you reported this to your state’s election authorities. Otherwise, this is just anonymous gossip.

      1. You might claim this is “anonymous gossip”, but in San Francisco, a couple of years ago, campaigners for the mayoral campaign of Ed Lee in Chinatown were caught red handed doing just what is described in this comment. It was all over the news, including TV and the Chronicle, so if you still insist it’s false you only expose yourself as dishonest. I personally was denied my right to vote because I was registered P&F by the electoral volunteers under mayor Willie Brown. That year ballot boxes were found floating in San Francisco Bay and the elections boss was found to have defrauded the city’s health care plan.

    2. Keep on trying ….. washing Whiter than White.
      The Republican Party no longer exists and should
      be renamed.

  4. Lately I have found Glenn’s posts to be off the point, but this time he really has made an important contribution, as so many different spins on the event have made the news. His clear explanation of the fire extinguisher story has finally allowed some clarity on the “riotous mob” and all the assumptions and melodrama among the
    Congress members whose hysterical fears tried to make us forget the real dangers their policies constantly put on people all over the globe who disobey the Big Brother USA.

    1. Yeah, I don’t like all the playing down of the riot’s ferocity, violence and ugliness — especially in shaming those who there and were legitimately scared for their lives — but there is also no excuse for doing crap reporting or outright fabrication to fit a narrative.

      As we see with the Cuomo cover-up of nursing home deaths because it was seen it would give the Trump crew a cudget to beat him and New York with, it is clear that the Democrats are quite capable of “ends justify the means” disinformation when it suits them, even though they are far more fact-based 90 percent of the time than the party of Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump.

      1. “it is clear that the Democrats are quite capable of “ends justify the means” disinformation when it suits them, even though they are far more fact-based 90 percent of the time than the party of Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump.”
        You must live in the NYC or Washington, DC area. No way anyone else could be so out of touch. Rush Limbaugh is dead, Trump is gone. The Democrats are responsible for more than 90% of RECENT disinformation (do you remember Russiagate and the last five years? ), since they joined with the CIA/ main stream media with the abolition (“modernization”) of the Smith Mundt Anti-propaganda Act (“Anonymous” means the DNC/CIA/MSM made up their facts !” Glenn Greenwald, Max Blumenthal and Joe Luria, all to the left, quickly dismissed the coup/insurrection as it happened. Just another Patriot Act 2.0 for Joe Biden and doubling the incarceration rate again.

        “especially in shaming those who there and were legitimately scared for their lives.” Like AOC, who wasn’t even in the Capitol building? In 1954 when five Congressmen were shot by Protesters on the Capitol floor, that was legitimate cause for concern. This was just a Protest! Just as witnessed all summer (although there was much more death, destruction and looting then), although it seemed more like entrapment with the LIES the media spewed, the refusal of police/ National Guard help, and “welcoming in” provocateurs, boisterous protesters and (mostly) tourists following velvet rope lines.

  5. Why do you insist on circulating this drivel from Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, aka Glenn Greenwald, week after week? Greenwald already has a microphone for his white male supremicist harangues on Fox News, his favorite source of “news.” Isn’t that sufficient? It’s time for Greenwald to be ostracized to spare us all from further insults to our intelligence. The world is a much saner place without having to endure any more nonsensical tweets from DT; the same would be true if we could be spared from reading any more twaddle and claptrap from Greenwald.

    1. Point out the falsehoods in the article. There aren’t any. Spare “us?” Who is this “us,” outside of wonderful you? No one is forcing you to read the article. I would suggest a site more amenable to your “facts” as you see them; maybe the comments space at Salon is a better fit for you.

  6. Greenwald: Without disputing the veracity of any of the points you made, what is your point? Dead is dead. At least seven people are dead because of that insurrectionist riot. Many more were injured. These violent, sick, anti-patriotic people caused those deaths. These people desecrated the Capitol in unspeakable ways. These violent Trump cultist may not have had guns. This can obviously be attributed to DC’s laws against firearms. Had this taken place in a different state, you can be sure they would have brought their firearms. History, Michigan, proves that. Still, they managed to come up with arms: pipes, spears, boards, ram-rods, knives, and more. The guy who sat in Pelosi’s office had a high-voltage stun gun. They took shields away from officers and used them. Armed is armed. We heard it for ourselves. The rioters themselves told us they would have killed officials had they gotten their hands on them. We saw the noose and heard the chants “Hang Pence”. Your points are weak and you do, indeed, sound like an apologist and a supporter. You are transparent. The pretense of “criticizing journalism” doesn’t work pal. What’s next, you argue that it was just a peaceful protest?

    1. Lol they were unarmed because of DC’s firearms restrictions … but they were insurrectionists seeking to overthrow the federal government

    2. Hi George. I enjoy and agree with your comment.
      For an article whose underlying topics are exaggeration and dissembling, it does its own share of exaggerating and dissembling.
      For example:
      “… the only other person killed with deliberate violence was a pro-Trump protester, Ashli Babbitt, unarmed when shot in the neck by a police officer at close range.” Dissembling: She was part
      of an armed, violent mob trying to break down a door, and she was trying to be the first one through. Armed police were on the other side clearly pointing guns at the rioters. The article makes it sounds like she was an innocent bystander. She wasn’t.
      “Though there is no controlling, clear definition, that term usually connotes not a three-hour riot but an ongoing, serious plot by a faction of the citizenry to overthrow or otherwise subvert the government.” Dissembling. The law does not deal with connotations. And it’s a pity we all have access to the internet; otherwise, this would sound legit. The fact is there are right wing groups that openly advocate and plan the overthrow of our government and the murder of anyone with whom they disagree or disapprove. They’re doing it right now. Just because they suck at planning and execution doesn’t mean they’re not seriously doing it.
      A quote from a quote: “The fact of the matter is this didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me. I mean armed, when you hear armed, don’t you think of firearms? “ No. Try this: Walk up to a police officer and attempt to whack him with a pole. See if you don’t wind up with enough holes in your chest to fill the Albert Hall. It was a violent, armed insurrection.
      “After the media bombarded Americans with this story for a full month without pause, it took center stage at Trump’s impeachment process. “
      Hmm. I luckily survived this month long bombardment without pause. I saw it mentioned maybe twice on the TV news. The hour of the trial that I watched didn’t mention it. Perhaps I missed the centerpiece.
      “Over and over, no evidence has emerged for the most melodramatic media claims — torn out Panic Buttons and plots to kill Vice President Mike Pence or Mitt Romney. ” Again, pity we all have access to the internet. The chants of “hang Pence” are clear as a bell. We’re to assume, then, that this rioting mob stormed the Capitol with no ill intent or plans and then spontaneously, on the spur of the moment, began shouting “hang Pence” and other threats? Likewise, we all saw Mitt Romney running for his life. He, for one, seemed to think there was a plot to kill him. But what would he know? He was just an eyewitness.
      I have no problem with Mr. Greenwald pointing out the deficiencies in the New York Times reporting. And I share his views that the media does a lot to discredit itself with sloppy facts and the nihilistic two points of view debates, where both points of view are advocated by liars and the public is left to decide who is the best liar.
      But this type of writing that engages in exaggeration and dissembling doesn’t do any good either.

  7. No matter what GG, human beings do not like to be chased into hiding, as they do not like first hand accounts of violence rendered peaceful by someone residing a comfortable existence. It could never be terrorism if it wasn’t you being the one terrorized. By all accounts, it was the very definition of the term.

    “That protesters were found before and after the riot with weapons does not mean they intended to use them as part of the protest.” If you really think anyone who attaches a weapon to their person shows no intent on using them then your entire piece exposes your naivety on the subject. Weapons of any stripe intimidate, a prerequisite for the successful implementation of terror. To say it is not, as this author does shows his lack of street creed.

  8. After reading the article, I wondered who was the audience it was aimed at? It couldn’t be the left because the shoddy reporting of the mainstream media, led, in this case, by the NYT, is well known on the left. There are plenty of stories done my the NYT that were/are completely composed of made up facts.

    Maybe it was aimed at the right. Unlikely, because all the right wingers I know already hate and mistrust the mainstream media (especially the NYT). However, one mainstream outlet they do trust is Fox news.

    Maybe it was aimed at Fox New, as a way to prove his fealty to their ideology. Fox is always in favor of trashing their competitors.

    Maybe it wasn’t aimed at anyone. Maybe it was a personal effort to trash the “liberal” media. Every year there are reports released that debunk mainstream media/conventional wisdom myths that trash the left. The total number is even higher if you include Fox News stories. (BTW- Almost every story printed about Venezuela is a good example of this.)

    Another good example is the story of him leaving The Intercept. He said he quit. Fox News (and most other media outlets) reported his was fire. Should I expect an article chastising Fox and the other media outlets who misreported this fact? I won’t hold my breath.

    1. gary,
      maybe the article was aimed at you. maybe the point of the article was to write the truth and use just facts. that’s glenn’s skill, in case you can’t discern it. his audience is everyone.

  9. C’mon Glenn, this is nothing new. The deceit of all involved for political gain is known and obvious. Be it the NYT or actual politicians. This was obvious to any one paying attention. But I’m over your rants that seem self-aggrandizing screeds to portray yourself as the sole truth-teller, and not a genuine attempt to bring honesty to journalism. As Dire Straits sang, “when you point your finger because your plans fell through, you’ve go three more finger point back at you.” Please, take a break, step back, open your perspective from it’s ever tightening focus. Then come back and put your talents to coverage that is not mere finger pointing, but way out pointing.

  10. C’mon Glenn, this is nothing new. The deceit of all involved for political gain is known and obvious. Be it the NYT or actual politicians. This was obvious to any one paying attention. But I’m over your rants that seem self-aggrandizing screeds to portray yourself as the sole truth-teller, and not a genuine attempt to bring honesty to journalism. As Dire Straits sang, “when you point your finger because your plans fell through, you’ve go three more finger point back at you.” Please, take a break, step back, open your perspective from that ever tightening focus. Then come back and put your talents to coverage that is not mere finger pointing, but way out pointing.

  11. Perhaps the biggest issue I have with the narrative surrounding these riots is something that, until a 2/12/21 Jimmy Dore interview with Max Blumenthal, paints these rioters as doing this due to economic hardship, no stimulus checks, etc. In other words, they’re revolting against the government because the latter isn’t taking care of them. I’ve always felt that is incredibly wrong, and because it’s been perpetrated by the left, very dangerous.

    (Here is the Dore/Blumenthal interview:

    (And the WashPo article:

    I’ve said it before, interviews were conducted on the ground (CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan was who I saw) as this was transpiring, and not once did those being interviewed say it was due to economic hardship, unemployment, no stimulus, etc. The only reason given in each interview was to basically overturn the election to put Trump back in office. These people believed in political fairy tales (and always have), cynical Republican politicians like Josh Hawley poured gasoline on the fire, and a few people died in the process.

    All because of a fairy tale.

    So there was no testimony by the actual protestors themselves for this riot being economically linked. But, the left continued to circulate this anyway.

    Then comes the 2/10 Washington Post column that Dore refers to in his Blumenthal interview that magically states that 60% of the rioters had financial trouble. One example of “financial trouble” was a 50-year-old woman (Jenna Ryan) who lost her home and had unpaid federal taxes yet who flew on a private plane to DC. Real picture of hardship there.

    Anyway, while I don’t dispute the financial predicaments that the other 40% were not in, the column did not establish causality. Nevertheless, it’s awfully convenient this column gets published AFTER the narrative has well circulated.

    They didn’t revolt because they were having their livelihoods taken away; they revolted because their president (who ironically only “won” the 2016 election thanks to the Electoral College) lost the election.

    They bought into a lie, period. But don’t take my word for it; Ryan herself stated for the article “I bought into a lie, and the lie is the lie, and it’s embarrassing…I regret everything.”

    She wasn’t alone in the least. Unfortunately there is still way too many who won’t ever do what she just did; stand up, hat-in-hand, and admit fault. Furthermore she said she felt “abandoned” and “betrayed” by her so-called patriot friends.

    The second clue that this riot wasn’t driven by valid, broader political issues, nevermind overall government tyranny, is that while there were at least a couple offices of Democratic politicians ransacked, I don’t recall an example of a Republican office that was also vandalized. I’m open to being corrected here, but I looked and couldn’t find any. So this was not just politically driven, it was partisan driven. Political hackery in full force.

    I have to hand it to Blumenthal in the interview, while he says that economics seemed to him to play a role, the other fact he mentioned was that he saw a number of white supremacist groups there, which means there was clearly an energy of racism there also. And there’s no such thing as “a little racism” with these types. Not surprising.

    So the next time someone says it’s the poor white working class that do things like this and we should understand them and all that crap, remember this quote from the column: “The poor and uneducated are not more likely to join extremist movements, according to experts.” And also “Only 9 percent appeared to be unemployed.”

    That’s right. White middle class (i.e., not poor) comprise the bulk of this cult. Just like in the 1950s (an era mentioned in the article), just like those Tiki-torch-carrying rubes from a few short years ago. Professional and managerial classes. So let’s stop with the sympathies.


    “That protesters were found before and after the riot with weapons does not mean they intended to use them as part of the protest.”

    I love Glenn but come on man. I’ve known a few gun nuts, and I can assure you ‘nuts’ is the operative word here.

    Look, either they planned to use them, in which case they’re criminally insane and near the outer rim of whatever cognitive skill they allegedly possess, or they never planned to use them, in which case means they’re nothing more than cosplay commando chickenshits and thereby should be laughed at for being frauds. These people who worship guns end up unwittingly painting themselves into a corner to where they either have to pee or get off the pot.

    Nevermind this Jacob Chansley idiot, who LARPed around like he just got a job at WWE as a John Nord knockoff.

  12. I think Glen has given s something to think about, seriously. Which is what good reporting SHOULD do!

  13. Glenn – you are doing almost exactly what you accuse the media of doing.

    Omission of material facts and context is as bad as false statements and errors.

    There’s a whole context here you ignore regarding Trump’s attempts to “stop the steal”.

    Even limited to the Jan 6 events, there is evidence of conspiracy and planning based on tactics (e.g. the line of Oath Keepers scaling the steps).

    I agree with you about how the national security state and media re using this event to do another post 9/11 crackdown and expand their power. But there is no need to distort events to raise those concerns.

  14. GG – you understand that the legal standard for death resulting from a criminal conspiracy is not “intent”?

    Example: Steal car, evade police, police chase kills pedestrian. Death was an “accident”. But still prosecuted as Murder.

    So, your distinction that the person who died by being crushed by the crowd was not intentional violence is just not consistent with the law.

    Minor nitpick, I realize. But you were drilling down so I felt enabled.

    1. I love you Bill. I forgot to mention above when I linked the Counterpunch article that seemed so much like GG’s here, that the author said the rioters “accidentally trampled” on the woman. Who says that unless they have an agenda?

  15. On the other hand, what do you do when efforts to get crises addressed, are ignored year after year? Like our poverty crisis? As Martin Luther King said: “A riot is the voice of the unheard.”

  16. The idea of “found” zip cuffs just doesn’t wash. Not once and certainly not twice. And not when people had posted intentions to bring them. As someone said earlier, dead is dead, and this riot/insurrection was deadly to people on both sides of the battle. Who can discount the crowd’s intentions as they beat an officer with a flagpole flying an American flag?

  17. Just recently Paul Jay’s site was BANNNED from youtube because Jay has been the lone voice asking the important question who was responsible for the understaffing of the capitol police on 1/6/21 and why:
    Apparently this was an “egregious violation” of Google’s ad policies. If this silencing of such a basic question doesn’t wake us up to the degree we are sliding into technofeudalism, I don’t know what will.

  18. Greenwald is once again twisting the argument (and himself) into positively yogic contortions in order to offer his MAGA-happy new audience a version of events where they don’t have to think of themselves as the bad guys.

    The January 6th rioters were there to do violence and overthrow the regular functioning of the US Congress, specifically at the bidding of Trump and his co-conspirators across the government, media, and law enforcement. Anyone who tells you differently, like Greenwald, is following motivated reasoning in order to sell you something.

    Contrary to the comforting lullabies of these contrarians and pseudo-leftists, the plot to stage a fascist coup in this country was revealed to be frighteningly advanced and far along. And this is only confirmed by every additional report that emerges on the deep involvement of the police and business classes in the Jan. 6 riot.

    There IS a kernel of truth that Greenwald is torturing to death here: Politicians and the news media are engaged in a coverup to hide and distort key facts about the insurrection. But rather than follow the actual story that is screaming in our faces (that January 6th was an inside job), Greenwald would have us bury our heads in the sand and drift back to sleep.

    Another dreadful column. It’s truly shameful to see him stoop so low for MAGAbux.

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