The media went out of its way in 2020 to paint sometimes-violent protests across the nation as mostly “peaceful,” but finally came around on Wednesday to the notion that mayhem and anarchy is always unacceptable – all it took was Trump supporters causing the chaos to spark a swift change of heart.
“It’s not hard to find prominent voices on the left who are suddenly finding lawlessness inexcusable, after suggesting it was excusable if it forwarded their agenda. They used words like ‘rebellion’ to glamourize unrest,” Media Research Center executive editor Tim Graham told Fox News.
DC POLICE SAY 4 DEAD, 52 ARRESTED AFTER CHAOS AT CAPITOL
Washington, D.C., police said late Wednesday that the security breach at the U.S. Capitol resulted in four deaths – including a woman who had been shot – and at least 52 arrests. Robert J. Contee III, the city’s top cop, said two pipe bombs were recovered earlier – one located outside the Republican National Committee and one outside the Democratic National Committee. Police said they also found a cooler from a vehicle that had a long gun and Molotov cocktail on the Capitol grounds. At least six firearms were recovered, in addition to the three recovered last night, as well as, a stun gun, authorities said.
The tragic scene has been widely condemned by just about anyone with a public platform – a stark difference to how last summer’s protests over police brutality were reported.
Last year MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi, who was reporting live from Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd, told viewers that the situation was “not generally speaking unruly” – while standing in front of a burning building.
ABC News was criticized in July for describing a California protest that featured demonstrators setting fire to a courthouse, vandalizing a police station, and shooting fireworks at police officers, as “peaceful.” “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell said “mostly peaceful” protests would cost $1 billion to $2 billion in claims as a result of damage from looting and arson, and CNN’s Omar Jimenez was famously reporting live in front of a raging fire amid Kenosha, Wis., chaos and the chyron at the bottom of the screen read, “FIERY BUT MOSTLY PEACEFUL PROTESTS AFTER POLICE SHOOTING.”
PROTESTERS DESCEND ON NATION’S STATE CAPITALS AS CHAOS UNFOLDS IN DC
CNN’s Chris Cuomo even asked viewers, “Please, show me where it says that protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful.” But the CNN host felt differently on Wednesday. “Protestors use speech. Angry. Not peaceful often … outraged, cursing … and that is protected. Sedition is not. Criminality is not. These were mobs that trashed the capitol and got light treatment for it. This is where we are. And it is ugly,” Cuomo tweeted.
Cuomo, who was criticized on social media as old clips were unearthed, defended himself by saying “false equivalency bs is killing us.”
Graham believes the chaos that played out on live television on Wednesday was so serious that “it’s no time for double standards” from the press, who should have condemned violence all along.
“It’s time for standards, and respecting the home of our Congress is the lowest standard for American civilization. We should insist that trashing an Apple store is inexcusable. Trashing our Capitol is even worse,” Graham said.
However, DePauw University professor Jeffrey McCall – who is typically an outspoken critic of the mainstream media – doesn’t think the comparison of the events is apples to apples.
“Clearly, coverage of the Capitol-storming had to be characterized as it was, an unacceptable and dangerous event. It is difficult to fully compare the social unrest of last summer to the Washington chaos of yesterday. Last summer’s events were sparked by different circumstances and were more socially, culturally based. Yesterday’s chaos was sparked by more specific political motivations,” McCall told Fox News.
One example of the changing narratives is Vox reporter German Lopez, who published a 2016 story amid national police brutality demonstrations headlined, “Riots are destructive, dangerous and scary – but can lead to serious social reforms.”
SAN DIEGO WOMAN ID’D AS PERSON SHOT DEAD INSIDE CAPITOL
At the time, many on the right condemned the sometimes-violent demonstrations, but Lopez argued that “riots aren’t solely random acts of violence or people taking advantage of dire circumstances to steal and destroy property” but instead are “a serious attempt at forcing change after years of neglect by politicians, media and the general public.”
Fast forward to 2021 and the very same Vox reporter penned a story headlined, “Every person who forced their way into the Capitol should be arrested,” indicating that Lopez has evolved on the issue.
Grabien Media founder Tom Elliott put together a montage of media members endorsing political violence from Antifa that further illustrates the hypocrisy.
Conservative strategist Chris Barron told Fox News that “violence is always wrong” but “the mainstream media spent months telling people that [it] was a legitimate political tool” until that narrative became inconvenient.
“They whitewashed the violence, they encouraged it and now they feign outrage when folks who they politically disagree with act in the exact same way,” Barron said.
Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson agrees that we’ve seen a dramatic shift in rhetoric coming from the left.
“Throughout the summer and fall, the mainstream liberal media either downplayed or justified widespread rioting and looting, and physical street intimidation, by Antifa and BLM activists. While the storming of the Capitol rightly deserves condemnation, we can’t lose sight of the media’s role in breaking the norm of peaceful protest,” Jacobson told Fox News.
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McCall said the mainstream media often tried to put the Black Lives Matter-led protests in a context that at times overlooked the magnitude of the actual violence that was occurring.
“Yesterday’s coverage, understandably, provided no such nuance. Storming the Capitol is not acceptable under any circumstances. However, burning police stations and attacking courthouses is not acceptable either, as was witnessed last summer, and some media outlets underplayed the significance of those dangerous situations.”
Fox News’ David Aaro contributed to this report.