The events on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, will be remembered as an act of domestic terrorism against the United States; as a national tragedy; and as a real-life manifestation of online radicalization. Here are the key questions heading into Thursday:
— Is President Trump a danger to the republic? Is he fit to hold office until January 20?
— Will the 25th Amendment be invoked, like a wide range of opinion leaders are urging?
— Will the White House aides who resigned, like Stephanie Grisham and Sarah Matthews, speak publicly? If not, why not?
— How many more White House aides will resign? Will Trump have any spokespeople left?
— Will the Murdochs do anything to rein in the incendiary programming on Fox News? What about Newsmax and OAN?
— Will the insurrectionists target other locations in DC in the coming days?
— Far from Washington, there were skirmishes in several state capitals on Wednesday. Will this continue?
— Ten years from now, what will this disaster be called? The “Trump riots?”
Writing for history
“Lies have consequences”
That’s what Senator Ben Sasse said on Wednesday: “Lies have consequences.” Other reality-based members of the Republican party, like Adam Kinzinger, also denounced the conspiracy theory rot inside their party. But they remained a minority within the GOP.
Many Democrats were much more forceful in their repudiations of the political and media climate that this unfolded in. Bill Clinton said “the assault was fueled by more than four years of poison politics spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in our system, and pitting Americans against one another.” Barack Obama called out both “a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem” for being “largely unwilling to tell their followers the truth” about Biden’s victory. And soon-to-be majority leader Chuck Schumer denounced Trump along with “the captive media that parrots his lies.”
The rioters organized online
Members of the media were attacked
Post journalists arrested
Notes about the cable and broadcast coverage
— As the minutes and hours went on, many news outlets stopped saying “protesters” and started saying “rioters” and “mobs.”
— Former NBC News executive Mark Lukasiewicz, who has been quite critical of his former network and the other broadcasters in recent months, expressed “respect and admiration for the job they did and risks they endured today. Journalism has never been more essential.”
— ABC and NBC scrapped their entire prime time lineups for news coverage. CBS initially aired sitcoms at 8 p.m. Eastern but then resumed a CBS News special report.
— The sober coverage up and down the dial made Fox’s prime time talk show programming seem all the more strange.
The right’s new narrative: Antifa, Antifa, Antifa
If you thought Wednesday’s invasion of the Capitol was going to break the fever, think again. “The rioters were Antifa” is becoming a standard talking point on the far right. From Sarah Palin to Candace Owens, from Laura Ingraham to Lin Wood, many commentators floated the idea that left-wing radicals were responsible for some of the violence that played out on Wednesday. Texas AG Ken Paxton even tweeted, ‘These are not Trump supporters.’ But as Ben Collins noted, there were in fact recognizable Trump supporters inside the Capitol building. Accusing left-wingers is just a cynical way to excuse what happened and change the conversation.
What Fox and Newsmax viewers heard
Along with all the “Antifa” excuse-making, here’s a sampling of what was heard on pro-Trump TV, via Oliver Darcy. Everyone condemned the violence, but then…
— Newsmax’s Greg Kelly attacked the media for its coverage, arguing journalists had been condescending toward Trump supporters. Kelly also interviewed Rudy Giuliani who expressed disappointment in Mike Pence.
— On Fox, Tucker Carlson appeared to exonerate his audience for what happened: “It’s not your fault, it is their fault,” he said, continuing the “us-vs-them” theme of his show.
— Carlson also asserted that Wednesday’s events will be used to “crack down” on “civil liberties.”
— On Newsmax at the same time, Grant Stinchfield also bashed the media for not buying into voter fraud conspiracy theories.
— Sean Hannity continued lying about the election, obsessed over voter fraud, and focused on the fact that the Capitol complex needs more security. His guests complained about left-wing mobs and said Republicans are held to double standards.
— Laura Ingraham, who mocked those who said that the Black Lives Matter uprisings were mostly peaceful, kept pointing out that most of the folks in DC were peaceful, but “because of a small contingent of loons, these patriots have been unfairly maligned.”
Notes and quotes
— Stephen Colbert went live on CBS Wednesday night and began his show by asking, “Hey, Republicans who supported this president… have you had enough?”