Media Outrage Over Capitol Riot Isn’t About Defending Democracy, It’s About Wielding Power
Media Outrage Over Capitol Riot Isn’t About Defending Democracy, It’s About Wielding Power By John Daniel Davidson for The Federalist
For our political and media elites, the capitol riot on Wednesday is the perfect excuse to ‘cleanse’ the country of Trump supporters.
After the pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Twitter blue-checks, politicians, and elite corporate journalists wailed and rent their garments in outrage. But they weren’t really outraged.
Yes, the breach of the capitol was appalling and disturbing. Most people didn’t see it coming and were understandably shocked when images of MAGA bros fighting capitol police began popping up on social media (although the authorities should have been better prepared, most of all D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who had earlier rejected offers of additional law enforcement.) There’s no question the protesters who decided to riot should be prosecuted, as all rioters everywhere should be.
But elite outrage is not really about what happened at the capitol—about the “sacred citadel of our democracy being defiled” and so on. The outrage, like almost all expressions of righteous indignation from our elites in the Trump era, is performative. It is in service of a larger purpose that has nothing to do with the peaceful transfer of power and everything to do with the wielding of power.
Specifically, it’s about punishing supporters of President Trump. If the pro-Trump mob can be depicted as “terrorists” and “traitors,” then there’s almost nothing we shouldn’t do to silence them. Right? Rick Klein, the political director at ABC News, said the quiet part out loud on Thursday when he mused (in a now-deleted tweet) that getting rid of Trump is “the easy part” and the more difficult task will be “cleansing the movement he commands.”
That’s not the kind of language you use when you’re in the business of reporting the news. It’s the kind of language you use when you’re in the business of social control.
A lot of people on the right have noted the supposed hypocrisy of media elites like Klein, but it’s not really hypocrisy because Klein and his comrades don’t really have a problem with violent mobs storming into buildings and smashing windows, so long as they agree with the mob’s agenda. That’s why corporate media was so tolerant of much larger and more dangerous mobs destroying American cities for months on end last year. When Black Lives Matter rioters stormed city halls and police stations, burned down churches, and ransacked shopping districts in major U.S. cities, killing dozens and destroying livelihoods, the media offered support for the rioters’ cause, which they invoked time and again to justify their criminal acts.
That’s why CNN’s Chris Cuomo said, “Please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful.” That’s why his colleague, Don Lemon, compared the riots to the Boston Tea Party, saying, “This is how our country started.”
That’s why Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued “the whole point of protesting is to make ppl uncomfortable.” That’s why incoming Vice President Kamala Harris urged her supporters to contribute to a fund to pay bail for militant anarchists who set fire to Minneapolis. That’s why reporters at MSNBC and CNN described fiery, riotous scenes as “mostly peaceful protests”—sometimes while buildings and cars burned in the background.