(The Center Square) – What exactly did we see Jan. 6 at the Capitol?
We know what we were shown. We know what we watched.
I suspect that you saw what I saw, and then on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, read what I read.
But what happened Jan. 6 at the Capitol isn’t known for certain. And I am not confident that we ever will know. Because to know, far more questions must be asked and then answered. I am not confident that the questions will be answered.
Something has changed in journalism. Conclusive outcomes are made in real time across all platforms today, and then the spin overwhelms the need for the pursuit of the truth.
In fact, for all the presumptive conclusions that you’ve read or seen in the days since, a tremendous number of questions remain to be answered.
Let’s start here: who stormed the Capitol? Again, what I saw was what you saw. A lot of Donald Trump flags, MAGA hats and signs.
These were all Trump supporters? Doesn’t seem plausible.
Could it be that simple? Probably not.
People inside the Capitol who certainly were not pro-Trump have been questioned by police. John Earle Sullivan, an activist with who founded a Utah group that is openly anti-fascist and a supporter of Black Lives Matters, captured 40 minutes of video with a female partner from inside the Capitol. That wasn’t being reported in Washington. It was reported in Utah, where Sullivan staged another protest that led to a man’s death.
On the video itself, the Insurgence USA founder can be heard saying, “As far as them storming the Capitol, I knew that was going to happen,” he said. “I’m on chats that are underground that are sending out flyers that are just like, ‘Storm all Capitols on the 6th.’ It wasn’t anything that was secret. It was something that was out there ... and they did it.”
Sullivan, whose video includes the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, was at the front of the mob.
Here in Chicago, I have seen multiple reports of a CEO who was charged for violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. His company fired him Jan. 8. Similar callouts are happening around the country to identify and cancel not only those charged with crimes but those who simply were around the Capitol who had the misfortune of appearing on someone else’s camera.
If you’d watched Washington Post’s livestream Jan. 6, you’d have been led to believe that all of the people within the camera’s view were men and women who were pro-Trumpers disenchanted by the election results of Nov. 3 and then the Georgia Senate races Tuesday night that turned out from all corners of the far right for the purpose of popping off like blood-filled ticks at the Capitol. That they had saved it all up for one final turnout in Washington, D.C.?
Say that out loud. Then think about it.
I struggle with the full plausibility of such a storyline, which we are being fed by some of the same national outlets that characterized 2020 riots in Kenosha, Wis., as “fiery but mostly peaceful” and in Minneapolis as not “generally speaking, unruly,”
That would seem to be, for any worthwhile journalist – at a minimum, lacking balance in perspective.
The Capitol Police were tactically miserable on a day made for opportunists of all stripes. Sadly, they lost one of their own in the madness.
Why is it we know all manner of things about Babbitt, the woman who was shot inside the Capitol? We know her name. What she did for a living. That she supported Trump. That she had a MAGA hat. That she owned a pool supply business. That she served 14 years in the Air Force. That she posted Q-Anon content on social media.
We don’t know – at this time – the name of the Capitol Police officer who shot her. No calls to ferret that out. No effort there. That would be contrary to the way the media swarmed to name the police officers who arrested George Floyd in Minneapolis or shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha. The names of those officers were all over the news in a matter of hours.
There is no denying people from the Save America March were loose in the Capitol. That’s indisputable. You can watch the people physically move from the rally to the Capitol.
And, for sure, there were pro-Trump supporters inside the building.
But who else was in there, and who in the media will make the effort to tell that story?
Perhaps only us.