How things do change! This week, nearly six months after the January 6th riot at the Capitol, the U.S. Department of Justice arrested several supporters of former President Donald Trump who participated in that insurrection by physically and/or verbally attacking news reporters, or news photographers, and/or destroying their professional equipment. And the Department of Justice, under the new leadership of Attorney General Merrick Garland, may not be finished with arresting these type of rioters.
Donald Trump had throughout his presidency constantly berated the news media by calling it FAKE NEWS or tweeting this description in capitals on his Twitter account to his approximately 80 million followers. He thereby churned up his political base to hate the press whenever it said anything, especially about him, that he didn’t like. The press is one of the most vital institutions in the U.S. that protects our democracy. It is enshrined in the Constitution. The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, I blogged many times expressing my disgust and worry about his constant barrage of attacks against the news media. I’ve always been a newspaper guy. In fact, in my senior years I’ve become sort of a news junkie.
Donald Trump was a resident of New York City his entire life until this year, and that is the place where his Trump Organization has always been headquartered. Yet as president he often criticized The New York Times and The Washington Post. I read both of those newspapers a lot and believe they are the two best newspapers in our land. So, the main impetus for these rioters attacking the news media at the Capitol on Certification Day was the very president himself.
FBI agents arrested these people in their home states of Virginia, Pennsylvania, two from New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Texas. Justice has hard evidence against these people to prove their cases, such as smart phone video that these people took of themselves during the riot and their own posts on social media.
For example, one of the accused says of destroyed reporter equipment in his own video, “Smash that [expletive]. You know what, the media did not want to do its job so now they [expletive] can’t.”
Court papers say another accused texted a friend, saying, “We attacked the CNN reporters and the fake news and destroyed tens of thousands of dollars of their video and television equipment here’s a picture behind me of the pile we made out of it.”
The accused from Texas–my former home state 40 years–posted a video online now calling himself “a political prisoner” and pleading, “Donald Trump, please pay for my legal fees because this all happened because of you . . . and I did nothing wrong.”