New Narrative Emerges on Right About Protests

They're blaming antifa for the violence
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2021 10:20 AM CST
New Narrative Emerges on Right About Protests
Broken windows are visible as ATF officers and officials clean up debris and personal belongings strewn across the floor of the Rotunda early Thursday after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

In the wake of Wednesday's violence in Washington, a new narrative has emerged on the right about what happened. It boils down to this: Don't blame us, blame the far-left activists of antifa. The accusation is that members of the latter group infiltrated pro-Trump protests and turned them violent. Coverage:

  • House floor: The allegation gained wide traction Wednesday night when GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz declared on the House floor, "Some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters. They were masquerading as Trump supporters, and in fact were members of the violent terrorist group antifa." Vox notes that Gaetz's assertion was met with audible boos in the chamber.
  • The source: Gaetz mentioned an article in the right-leaning Washington Times that quotes a retired military officer. The unnamed officer says facial-recognition software identified at least two of the protesters who entered the Senate as antifa members. Gaetz acknowledged he didn't know if the report was true, but he found it "compelling."

  • Others: "This has all the hallmarks of Antifa provocation," tweeted GOP Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona. Republican colleague Mo Brooks seconded the claim while speaking to Lou Dobbs of Fox, per NBC News. There "could be any other number of groups, anarchists, or what have you, that could have taken advantage of this opportunity to ... vandalize the United States Capitol," he added. Sarah Palin also blamed "antifa folks."
  • Networks: Newsmax and One America News Network picked up the theme in coverage of the violence, per Axios. Newsmax host Greg Kelly, for example, condemned the unrest, while adding, "These people don’t look like Trump supporters. Trump supporters don't do these things," per the Washington Post.
  • Fox hosts: "I'd like to know who the agitators were," said Sean Hannity, per the Post. "Those who truly support President Trump ... do not support those that commit acts of violence." Fox's Brian Kilmeade also expressed skepticism that Trump supporters were solely to blame. Laura Ingraham: "I have never seen Trump rally attendees wearing helmets, black helmets, brown helmets, black backpacks—the uniforms you saw in some of these crowd shots." Tucker Carlson: "We may never know the truth here," he said. "I keep seeing all kinds of accounts of who they were and what their motives might have been."
  • On the other hand: The Post notes that many Trump supporters openly boasted of breaching the Capitol, even livestreaming it. The take of Jerusalem Demsas of Vox: "(A)t present, there is no evidence that there are members of antifa who were a part of this crowd. However, there is ample evidence that prominent Trump supporters and members of QAnon were present during the illegal takeover of the building."
(More antifa stories.)

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