When President Joe Biden delivered his speech before a joint session of Congress last month, he called the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”
This statement effectively ignored Pearl Harbor and 9/11, of course, but the point was clear: Not only was this a millstone the left planned to hang around the neck of Republicans for as long as they could, but the millstone was also going to be heavy and engraved with the word “traitor.”
CNN had another opportunity to drag out the millstones this week after Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar made controversial comments regarding Capitol rioters and associated protesters during a hearing Wednesday, calling many of them “peaceful patriots.”
According to The Arizona Republic, Gosar demanded authorities turn over security footage from the event because he said it would exonerate those who didn’t enter the Capitol building. (Admittedly, most of the protesters never set foot inside the Capitol and were indeed peaceful; we’ll let you decide on the merits of Gosar’s words for yourself.)
“Such footage would provide answers that would contain exculpatory evidence regarding outrageous accusations against members of Congress,” he said, “and most importantly, exonerate the many Americans who peacefully protested and never set foot in the Capitol.”
CLIP: @RepGosar at January 6th U.S. Capitol Attack hearing: “The DoJ is harassing peaceful patriots across the country.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 12, 2021
Gosar is no stranger to controversy — but, as these things go, he’s not a particularly powerful member of the House Republican caucus. His remarks were little more than a pretext for CNN’s Manu Raju to ambush Republicans in the halls of Congress in a search for quotes.
If they didn’t say anything, well, their silence speaks volumes — doesn’t it? And if they do say something that doesn’t fit the narrative, it can always be twisted.
That’s what happened when Raju talked to Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky. Massie, hardly the most controversial member of the Republican caucus, allegedly said something particularly cretinous during the Thursday interview — he “didn’t see any violence” on Jan. 6.
Tried to ask Paul Gosar today about his remarks yesterday downplaying the Capitol attack, and he wouldn’t take questions as he ducked into an elevator.
Thomas Massie says: “I didn’t see any violence” when asked about concerns that election rhetoric could lead to violence pic.twitter.com/neANWlydc3
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 13, 2021
The problem is that he didn’t actually that. Here was the actual back-and-forth:
“Do you agree with Trump that the election was rigged or stolen somehow?” Raju asked.
“We didn’t have hearings, there’s no way to litigate that up here. If you’re in the minority, the [Department of Justice] wouldn’t investigate it,” Massie responded.
When Raju said there was “no evidence of widespread fraud,” Massie smiled and said that was his opinion.
“Are you concerned by suggesting that there’s something wrong, it could lead to more violence here?” Raju asked later, implying any questioning of election integrity could lead to violence..
“No, no,” Massie replied. When asked why, Massie said, “I don’t see any violence.”
Not that he didn’t see any violence (past tense, specifically referring to Jan. 6) but “I don’t see any violence” (present tense, definitely not Jan. 6). Big difference, particularly given the context. Furthermore, while there is a bit of an echo as Massie walks away, it’s abundantly clear he’s saying “don’t,” not “didn’t.” This isn’t “Yanny or Laurel” stuff
The reason Raju and CNN hear “didn’t” is likely because, one reckons, that’s the only way this is a story.
Massie was nonplussed.
This is inaccurate too… pic.twitter.com/KCAdwQsF65
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) May 14, 2021
“I said ‘don’t,’ not ‘didn’t’ The audio is there for all to hear. Please fix your article @mkraju @CNN,” he tweeted Thursday.
“I’m one of the few GOP folks who will even talk to you in the hallway. There will be zero if you insist on misreporting our words.”
By Saturday morning, CNN had changed the headline on its video of Massie’s remarks and added a note: “This video headline has been updated due to an inaccurate characterization of Rep. Thomas Massie’s remarks.”
Good for CNN, I suppose, though the damage had already been done. It did not appear as though the outlet had issued a formal retraction or a public apology, though — something that credible outlets do when they mess up.
As the establishment media is busying itself with millstone-tying, people like Gosar are easy targets. To be fair, Gosar is likely unbothered, since he’s used to this treatment. Massie is different, though — and he’s an odd choice to pick on.
No one would accuse the wonky, libertarian-ish Kentucky Republican of being a firebrand, nor would they accuse him of being a Trump defender. In the immediate aftermath of the Capitol incursion, Massie put the blame squarely on then-President Donald Trump: “I think Trump is at fault here,” Massie told The Dispatch. “I watched almost all of his speech. I felt like it was inevitable.”
“There were a whole host of my colleagues who were just frankly terrified of the base that Trump had misled. It was much easier to go along than to explain to them that Trump was misleading them.”
Raju isn’t a naïf and he knows his way around Washington, which means he was aware of what Massie actually said and, one assumes, didn’t care. CNN needs those ratings, after all, and the more people they can weigh down by implying they’re underplaying or whitewashing what Biden reprehensibly called the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War,” the better.
Does it need to be factual? Who cares? The Nielsen ratings don’t.
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