The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
BREAKING: Interior Dept. IG report says police cleared protesters from D.C.'s Lafayette Park over fencing installation, not for Trump photo op, @KenDilanianNBC reports. "A narrative we thought we knew is not the reality." #MTPDaily
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 9, 2021
For more than a year, it has been consecrated media fact that former President Donald Trump and his White House, on June 1 of last year, directed the U.S. Park Police to use tear gas against peaceful Lafayette Park protesters, all to enable a Trump photo-op in front of St. John's Church. That this happened was never presented as a possibility or likelihood but as indisputable truth. And it provoked weeks of unmitigated media outrage, presented as one of the most egregious assaults on the democratic order in decades.
This tale was so pervasive in the media landscape that it would be impossible for any one article to compile all the examples. "Peaceful Protesters Tear-Gassed To Clear Way For Trump Church Photo-Op," read the NPR headline on June 1. The New York Times ran with: "Protesters Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Could Pose at Church." CNN devoted multiple segments to venting indignation while the on-screen graphic declared: "Peaceful Protesters Near White House Tear-Gassed, Shot With Rubber Bullets So Trump Can Have Church Photo Op."
You can decide for yourselves how important, or not, this particular story was itself in the grand scheme of things. But it's a good reminder to be skeptical, whether one is a news reporter or a consumer of news reporting. Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.