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HomeNational NewsThe Sunday Read: Selective reporting on Capitol chaos skews view

The Sunday Read: Selective reporting on Capitol chaos skews view


We know what we were shown. We know what we watched.

(The Center Square) – What exactly did we see Wednesday at the Capitol?

But what happened Wednesday 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.

I suspect that you saw what I saw, and then on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, read what I read.

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.

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.

These were all Trump supporters? Doesn’t seem plausible.

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.

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.

Could it be that simple? Probably not.

Sullivan, whose video includes the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, was at the front of the mob.

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.”

If you’d watched Washington Post’s livestream Wednesday, 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.?

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 Friday. 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.

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,” 

Say that out loud. Then think about it.

We should be asking why only 14 people were arrested at the scene by Capitol Police.

That would seem to be, for any worthwhile journalist – at a minimum, lacking balance in perspective.

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.

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.

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.

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.

But who else was in there, and who in the media will make the effort to tell that story?

And, for sure, there were pro-Trump supporters inside the building.

* * * *

Perhaps only us.


Elsewhere in America …


The Democrats wrestled control of the U.S. Senate after Tuesday’s runoff elections in Georgia. Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler conceded to Democrat challenger Raphael Warnock on Thursday, vowing “to stay in this fight for freedom.” Republican incumbent David Perdue conceded Friday to Democrat Jon Ossoff in a runoff that was called Wednesday for Ossoff. The Perdue campaign had said it would “exhaust every legal recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted,” but ended its efforts Friday afternoon. 


New legislation filed in Florida ahead of the spring legislative session extends COVID-19 protections to businesses, schools, nonprofits and religious institutions. Businesses would be immune from liability if courts determine the businesses have “substantially” complied with government-issued health standards or guidance. Republican leaders said separate legislation will address liability protection for the health care industry.


Although a new law allowing public-sector collective bargaining in Virginia does not go into effect until May, at least two Virginia counties are preparing to spend more taxpayer money on staff and resources if public-sector collective bargaining is approved in each county. In Fairfax County, it is suggested $1 million at the county level and $600,000 at the school board level be directed to support collective bargaining negotiations. The Arlington County Board has directed its county manager to provide budget recommendations for fiscal year 2022, with considerations for additional costs related to collective bargaining.


The state released details of a $100 million literacy initiative that will provide optional reading resources and support to students, teachers and school districts. The goal is to help students to read on grade level by third grade. State officials estimated last fall Tennessee third-graders will experience 50% learning loss in reading proficiency because of pandemic-related school closures.


New federal rules require hospitals to make their health care prices public, and North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell called on the state’s hospitals to do so. Folwell said the new transparency would increase health care’s affordability and quality.


Gov. Henry McMaster announced he is allocating $19.9 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds for education programing for foster children, expanded day programs and summer school for early childhood education, and career and technical education programs in South Carolina’s state technical college system. The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the governor’s previous attempt to use the funding to enable families with pandemic-related financial hardships to keep their children in private schools.

Pritzker said Wednesday it could be difficult to address the state’s out-of-balance budget during the short lame-duck legislative session that started Friday to wrap up the 101st General Assembly. State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, said thanks to last month’s federal stimulus bill, there may be some cushion to get to the next General Assembly that begins work Wednesday. Zalewski also said the governor’s announced $711 million in cuts will help bridge to the new legislature.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was all smiles about Georgia’s U.S. Senate election results Wednesday, saying he’s optimistic the federal government will come through with more state aid now that Republicans can’t block it. “I’m thrilled about the fact that the Senate changed hands,” he said. “As far as how that will affect the state of Illinois, I think there are two things that we can all immediately point to. One is that I think we will begin to see serious consideration of state and local funding, finally, because Mitch McConnell won’t be able to block it, and there are Republican senators whose states need state and local funding and they were working on that behind the scenes but Mitch McConnell would not bring that to a vote.”

Michigan business and political leaders are pondering why Gov. Gretchen Whitmer chose to veto a bipartisan effort to allocate $220 million for Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. The leaders note Whitmer’s shutdown orders are responsible for putting people out of work, but also have made it extremely difficult for out-of-work Michiganders to receive unemployment benefits.



Whitmer also declined to sign two bills into law, exercising a “pocket veto” on legislation that would have given a tax break to Meijer and allowed businesses hit hard by COVID-19 to defer summer 2020 property taxes. Critics assert the governor’s move further distorts the state’s tax code by favoring certain businesses over another.


Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced the officers involved in Jacob Blake’s shooting last summer will not be charged with any crimes. Blake also will not face any criminal charges. In other legal news, the FBI and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are joining Grafton police in looking into why an employee at the Aurora Health Clinic intentionally spoiled more than 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.


The Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association (MADA) filed a federal lawsuit aiming to stop Gov. Tim Walz’s administration from adopting California’s vehicle emission standards. MADA, which represents 350 franchised new car dealers with more than 20,000 employees, claims Minnesota lacks the authority under the Federal Clean Air Act to regulate motor vehicle emissions.


Much of the discussion of policies that might be coming out of Washington over the next few years has focused on President-elect Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But now that Democrats will control the U.S. Senate, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York is poised to become majority leader – the first from the Empire State in that role. The Brooklyn politician has served as a lawmaker since he served in the state Assembly in the 1970s and was one of the first prominent voices to call for President Donald Trump’s removal after Wednesday’s events at the U.S. Capitol.


Republican lawmakers are hoping there’s sufficient appetite among their Democratic colleagues to override Gov. Phil Murphy’s veto of a bill that passed unanimously through both the Assembly and Senate. The legislation in question aims to help restaurants and taverns struggling through the pandemic by allowing them to expand outdoor seating beyond what current regulations allow. Murphy argued it would circumvent licensing rules critical to “the public’s health and safety.” GOP lawmakers are circulating a letter seeking a veto override vote as soon as possible.


The question of whether it’s safe for school-age children to be in school has been a tough one to answer during the coronavirus pandemic, with deeply held beliefs on both sides of the argument. Now, 10 months into the COVID-19 crisis, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is trying to chart a middle course by allowing elementary school children to return to in-person learning, as of Jan. 25, if local school officials decide to reopen their buildings. Middle and high school students, however, must continue their studies from home, acting Education Secretary Noe Ortega said.


After receiving encouragement from Ohio prosecutors to veto Ohio’s new Stand Your Ground legislation and a week after hinting he might do just that, Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill last week. DeWine wants something in return, however. For more than a year, the Republican governor pushed his plan for tighter gun controls, but the General Assembly has yet to move anything forward. DeWine hopes signing the new bill leads to more cooperation with lawmakers.


Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young released a statement Wednesday just before the joint session of Congress that said he will not join other senators in objecting to Electoral College votes from up to six states, saying he believes Congress has “no authority” to do anything other than certify the votes.


Survey results released by the Kentucky Democratic Party last week show Gov. Andy Beshear has strong statewide support, but Republicans expressed skepticism about the poll. Overall, the poll showed voters support the Democratic governor by a 59% to 37% margin, including 55% of independent voters and one-third of people who voted for Trump in November. Those numbers prompted a couple of GOP officials and consultants to scoff at the findings. “I can make a poll say people loved Wonder Woman 84 if you pay me to …,” tweeted Tres Watson, a Republican campaign and communications consultant. 


In the week since Iowa’s in-person registration requirement expired, at least three new online operators have opened sportsbooks in the state. Rush Street Interactive (RSI), BetMGM and PointsBet are among online sportsbook operators inviting Iowans to register remotely to place bets on their websites now that Iowa bettors no longer have to first visit one of the state’s 19 retail casinos to verify their identification and open an account.


As providers ramp up resources to deliver millions of shots into millions of arms in the coming months, Missouri lawmakers will consider allowing dentists to inoculate patients to expedite COVID-19 vaccinations this winter and spring. House Bill 628, sponsored by Rep. Danny Busick, R-Newtown, would make Missouri the fifth state to allow dentists to vaccinate patients for the virus.


Many counties in Texas have imposed a new round of COVID-19-related economic shutdowns, citing executive orders still in place from Gov. Greg Abbott. In September and October, Abbott issued additional executive orders to expand capacity limits for many businesses to 75%. The affected businesses included gyms, restaurants and retail stores and some bars. In the orders, the ability to expand capacity was dependent upon the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to a hospital in a given area.


Researchers and public health officials are using Colorado’s wastewater system to understand the prevalence and transmission of COVID-19 throughout the state. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said studying detectable COVID-19 particles in wastewater systems helps public health officials “improve our understanding of the number of individuals affected by COVID-19, including individuals who do not have symptoms or do not undergo testing.” The department has partnered with researchers from Colorado State University, Metropolitan State University, GT Molecular and Colorado wastewater utilities to conduct a study and publish a dashboard tracking COVID-19 wastewater data.


Arizona’s COVID-19 cases spiked the week after Thanksgiving, something the state’s top doctor blamed on local family gatherings. Seeing the same after the December holiday week, The Center Square reached out to data firm Cuebiq to find out just how many out-of-state visitors came to Arizona, thinking that could have been a factor, rather than just locals seeing family. The data was striking. An estimated 1.38 million people, mostly from locked-down California, visited Arizona in the last two weeks of 2020, 86% of which did not quarantine. We asked state officials whether they thought these tourists could be the cause, rather than residents. They’ve yet to respond.


Washington and Oregon have joined with over a dozen indigenous tribes in a lawsuit against the federal government to stop the sale of the Seattle National Archives building, which houses thousands of paper files related to tribal treaty documents, ancestral records and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The records will be sent to two separate National Archives sites in Kansas City, Mo., and Riverside, Calif. The lawsuit claims the building’s expedited sale is illegal based on its relation to “agriculture, recreational, and conservation programs,” and alleges the federal government did not seek testimony from tribal governments and other stakeholders.

Chris Krug is publisher of The Center Square. Regional editors J.D. Davidson, Derek Draplin, Cole Lauterbach, Delphine Luneau, Brett Rowland, Jason Schaumburg and Bruce Walker contributed to the column.

The same day Trump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol, a pro-Trump protest descended into an “unlawful assembly” after groups clashed and several people were injured. As Trump supporters moved in for a shouting match with  counter-protesters, which included a number of uniformed anti-fascists, the two groups converged at the Capitol building. Officers spent 20 minutes pushing heavily armed Proud Boys and Trump supporters out of the area as counter-protesters dispersed.
By Chris Krug | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission


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