- “Armed Insurrection” is a lie
- Salon calls Sen. Johnson a racist for fearing BLM and Antifa more than Trump supporters
- Factual lies continue to make their way into leftist stories of the event
- Skolnik gives erroneous “context” to make Johnson’s comments appear racist
OUR RATING: Trash Journalism, aka the Daily Beast.
Salon.com writer Jon Skolnik labels the events of Jan. 6 as an “insurrection” citing incorrect information. He does this so as to smear Sen. Johnson’s comments as insensitive and racist. Furthermore, Skolnik attempts to downplay the violence of Black Lives Matter protests to further discredit Johnson.
- Bad Sources
- Superficial Investigation
- No Evidence to Support Claims
The three facts easily disputed within Skolnik’s article are 1] that the event of Jan. 6th is an “insurrection,” 2] that this “insurrection” saw five people die, including a police officer, and 3] that these were “rioters” who “brought a house of weapons to the rally, including guns, smoke bombs, stun guns, knives, brass knuckles, as well as other items that could be fashioned into makeshift weapons.”
“Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. is facing blistering backlash after admitting that he didn’t feel threatened by the pro-Trump rioters at the Capitol insurrection but would have if they had been Black Lives Matter protestors.
Five people died during the insurrection, including one police officer. Some 140 law enforcement officers were injured, and two officers died by suicide following the riot. Over 315 people have been charged in connection to the Capitol riot, and about forty have been arrested. Rioters brought a host of weapons to the rally, including guns, smoke bombs, stun guns, knives, brass knuckles, as well as other items that could be fashioned into makeshift weapons.”
These three can be handled systematically. First, Skolnik’s only evidence for calling the protest an insurrection is one Politico “fact check” that says the Jan. 6th protest was an “armed insurrection” because people showed up to “stop the vote confirmation and keep Trump in office despite the election results” and because they showed up carrying a “weapon” of some sort. Obviously, there are a great many problems with this being a simple factual claim.
There is absolutely no mention that millions of these protesters believed that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. So it wasn’t despite the election results that they showed up. It was because the election results were reasonably suspicious that Trump supporters showed up to pressure Senators to postpone validating the election. Whether or not they were armed will be addressed shortly. In order to prove this claim on a plausible basis, Skolnik must include more than one measly source, who at best is clearly biased.
As well, it seems clear that these people were armed with primarily defensive devices anticipating unchecked violence from members of Antifa. Violence from Antifa, which has included shooting a pro-Trump man Aaron Danielson in the street in Portland last October.  Also that month, another Trump supporter Lee Keltner was shot and killed by the media in broad daylight in Denver,  by an individual who was originally suspected to be a member of Antifa as well.  Notably, Keltner’s killer is free on bond, has not yet been arraigned, and his judge has made sure that he now doesn’t even have to worry about the minor inconvenience of GPS tether monitoring. 
So it was not at all unreasonable for the conservatives attending the January Capitol protest to expect that violence would be exacted against them, and the official police response would be to do nothing.
In fact many city police officials have quietly let it be known that ‘stand down’ orders have been given to give left-wing activists legal free reign to do as they wish. 
According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of an insurrection is “an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.” If this is an insurrection, it is an extremely small and unarmed one. Of the 100,000 people who came to see Trump’s speech that day, fewer than 1,000 “stormed” the Capitol.  And as we have discussed elsewhere, it’s also not clear whether it was Trump-supporters who instigated the violence and property damage and destruction at the Capitol, or if they were merely walking into the building after the doors had been broken open.
The second factual claim is that five people died, including a police officer. The officer Skolnik refers to is Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, whose death the New York Times originally, wrongfully, blamed on a fire-extinguisher wielding Trump supporter due to their egregiously sloppy and shoddy reporting. The Times relied on official statements and did not verify the death during one of the most contentious news stories of the past decade, with any reliable source other than gossip. It took them a month to update their story,  which is now being presented in court as a claim that a form of tear gas known as ‘bear spray’ was used on Sicknick and others, causing him to later have a medical episode while at home.
Since then, the Times has retracted the original Officer Sicknick story since they lacked sufficient evidence to make such a claim. This is a clear and blatant lie. Authorities have still not released an autopsy, toxicology or cause of death for Sicknick. Furthermore, the two men indicted by the grand jury have been charged with assault on an officer with a dangerous weapon, not manslaughter. So, not only do we not know the cause of death, no one is being currently charged with the death of Officer Sicknick and therefore it’s very disingenuous to blame his death solely on the protesters.
The other four deaths were Trump supporters, with only one dying from deliberate violence: unarmed Ashli Babbitt who was shot while posing no serious physical threat. So, the only person who died from deliberate violence during this supposedly armed insurrection was a pro-Trump protestor. At best, Skolnick has done a superficial investigation on the topic. At worst, he is continuing to push a lie.
As for whether or not these were armed protestors, there is no evidence to support the claim. Julie Kelly reports that of the 200 people arrested from that day, only 14 defendants face any sort of weapons charge. However, the most crucial part of this claim is that “Not one person has been charged with possessing or using a gun inside the Capitol. Further, no one has been identified as carrying a gun inside the building,” according to Kelly. So any “armed insurrectionists” were a tiny percentage of the 100,000 protestors, and they “stormed” the capital unarmed and hurt no one. This is a clear misrepresentation of the kinds of people who came to the Capitol on the 6th.
The crowd was present to hear Trump speak, and agitators confronted the Capitol Police, whose overreaction led to the situation spiraling out of control.
Finally, Skolnik, as many leftists have done before him, attempts to paint the BLM protests in contrast as largely peaceful. Sen. Johnson cites a study from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, saying that he would fear a BLM riot more than the rally of Jan. 6th because “Out of 7,750 protests last summer associated with BLM and Antifa,” he said, “570 turned into violent riots that killed 25 people and caused $1-$2 billion of property damage.”
Sam Jones, a senior communications manager from ACLED said Johnson’s claim lacks the context of the whole study that “determined that of the 10,600 demonstrations that swept the country from May 24 to Aug. 22, nearly 95 percent of them were entirely peaceful.” Jones also blamed the level of force used by the police and aggressive intervention from counter-protest groups as a cause of the violence.
Unfortunately, none of these explanations make the 570 riots that turned violent any more peaceful nor do they make Johnson’s claims seem unreasonable. As we’ve already proved, the “armed insurrection” of Jan. 6 was neither armed nor an insurrection with almost no real violence inflicted on either side. Even if you accept the inflated left-wing figures that only 5% of BLM rallies turned violent, that stands in contrast to the 0% of Trump rallies that turned violent even though Trump supporters waiting for the President to speak were being tear gassed, shot with paintballs in the eyes, struck, clubbed and more.
If the Trump protesters were armed insurrectionists intent on stopping the peaceful transfer of power, why didn’t they execute Ashli Babbit’s killer? Why didn’t they shoot the Capitol Police? Why didn’t they execute Senators or then-Vice President Mike Pence who had lied to the public about taking voter fraud seriously and then, at the last moment, claimed that he lacked the authority to stop an election certification he had expressed doubts about? These grievances may not be legitimate to a Salon writer living in Brooklyn, but they were not just a massed Trump crowd waiting for their moment to end democracy, and to portray the situation that way is fundamentally dishonest.
OUR RATING: Trash Journalism, aka the Daily Beast.