After the January 6 pro-Trump insurrection in Washington, D.C., right-wing media rushed to compare the Trumpist mob’s attack on the U.S. Capitol to various examples of violence over the summer of 2020, which they blamed on anti-fascist activists or Black Lives Matter demonstrators.
Perhaps the biggest problem with this ignorant comparison is that Wednesday's attack on the federal legislature — which forced Congress to evacuate from insurrectionists who destroyed federal property and planted bombs near the Capitol — posed a demonstrably graver threat to the integrity of the United States than property damage sustained after protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
Trump supporters quite literally staged an attack on democracy yesterday. It was an assault on the constitutional process of a peaceful transition of power, based on rampant “voter fraud” lies from the QAnon conspiracy theory, right-wing media, and President Donald Trump. There is no meaningful comparison between a seditious riot born from partisan lies and angry, even sometimes violent, protests after the police killings of George Floyd and other Black Americans in 2020.
Here are various dishonest comparisons between Black Lives Matter, anti-fascism, and the January 6 pro-Trump insurrection -- many from the same right-wing media figures who also pushed the “voter fraud” lies that inspired the insurrectionist mob in the first place.
- Fox contributor Jonathan Turley compared the Capitol attack to “the Lafayette Park incident,” a June 2020 Black Lives Matter protest he falsely described as “an attack on the White House.” What actually happened was federal security forces tear-gassed protesters and media, without warning or serious provocation, in order to violently clear a path for a Trump photo-op in front of a church whose leaders did not want him there.
- After also referencing protests in Lafayette Park, Fox host Laura Ingraham said: “We all have to be, as Americans, concerned when the system of government is not trusted by tens of millions of people on both sides. In 2016, the left tried to take down a duly elected president. In 2020, we have tens of millions of Americans who believe that state legislatures and state officials didn't follow their own rules and laws and did not properly account for votes. That has to be addressed.”
- Fox’s Charles Payne theorized that “the establishment” maintains power by using “the media'' to keep “the overwhelming majority of Americans … somewhat on the edge, somewhat fearful,” as shown by the “different coverage of this than you saw, for instance, of a summer of riots, a summer of looting, a summer of burning cities, a summer of cops being murdered.” Payne concluded that the Capitol attack “should be condemned equally as other things should be condemned. There’s no way to try to have any equivocation.”
- The Hill’s Joe Concha called the “shameful” attack on the Capitol “an extension, quite frankly, of what we saw during the summer of 2020, when antifa and others took over cities. … Nobody has the moral high ground here.”
- A One America News anchor complained that “Democrat officials and the mainstream media unleash[ed] vicious attacks on patriotic protesters in DC, despite endorsing violent riots by antifa and BLM.”
- Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said: “For those people that are condemning this violence, I ask you, where are you for 200-plus days in Portland? Where were you in Oregon, that’s still existing, as the CHOP zone took root? Where were you in New York City, when you said, ‘Hey, people have to blow off steam,’ as well as Illinois and countless other places? Don’t suddenly become law and order.”
- Rush Limbaugh favorably compared the coup attempt to racial justice protests.
- Right-wing commentator Matt Schlapp: “I was pretty harsh on the Black Lives Matter protesters and when they encroached the White House perimeter.” (They didn’t.) “I feel the same way today.”
- OAN personality, Pizzagate conspiracy theorist, and white supremacist Jack Posobiec tweeted several incendiary or misleading comparisons between the Capitol attack and anti-fascist or Black Lives Matter protests.
- On Fox News, an organizer of the pre-insurrection “Save America” rally claimed that “a few bad actors have completely spoiled it.” She said that “the intolerance from the left and Democrats of advocating that violence is OK with BLM and antifa has helped contribute to get us here to this situation today.” Anchor Martha MacCallum replied that media coverage of the Capitol attack “sort of lumped [the Trump supporters] together,” unlike Black Lives Matter coverage, which focused on people “upset about police brutality.”
- White nationalist Patrick Casey complained on Telegram, “Black Lives Matter is allowed to roam free, burning buildings, smashing windows, and attacking Trump supporters. But when an unarmed girl steps foot inside the US Capitol Building, she’s shot dead. That’s how this country works.”
- The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro also complained that “the double standard with regard to rioting in the media (it’s good when it’s BLM, it’s bad when it’s Trump supporters) is egregious. And vice versa for those who engage in whataboutism.”