'Hit Piece on a Dead Woman': AP News Attacks 'Insurrectionist' Ashli Babbitt's Character, Cites 2016 Incident


In an investigative report published on Monday about Ashli Babbitt, the 35-year-old Air Force veteran who was shot and killed by a police officer during the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion, The Associated Press said former President Donald Trump and his supporters “have sought to portray her as a righteous martyr who was unjustly killed.”

The AP made clear its intention to disabuse readers of that notion.

How, exactly, would the wire service go about doing this?

By drudging up lurid details of Babbitt’s past.

According to Michael Biesecker, the AP’s national investigative reporter, the life of Babbitt — whom he explicitly refers to as an “insurrectionist” — was “more complicated than the heroic portrait presented by Trump and his allies.”

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In order to back up this claim, Biesecker wrote about Babbitt’s alleged extramarital affair in 2015, a 2016 road-rage incident she allegedly perpetrated and various social media posts she had made leading up to her untimely death.

Biesecker spoke with Celeste Norris, the alleged victim of the 2016 incident, regarding Babbitt’s character.

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According to the report, the two women were put at odds “when Babbitt engaged in a monthlong extramarital affair with Norris’ longtime live-in boyfriend.” When Norris found out, she called Babbitt’s then-husband, which — according to Norris — prompted Babbitt to ram Norris’ vehicle three times with an SUV on July 29, 2016.

After spending several paragraphs detailing Norris’ side of the story, in one short sentence, Biesecker noted that “a judge acquitted Babbitt on the criminal charges.”

The AP reporter argued the incident “is an example of erratic and sometimes threatening behavior of Babbitt,” without providing any additional examples of such behavior.

Implicit in such a statement is the suggestion that Babbitt was acting in a threatening way when she was shot during the Jan. 6 incursion, but official police documents obtained by Judicial Watch and released in October seem to debunk this notion.

According to the report, witness testimonies indicate Babbitt was not armed at the time of the shooting, and one Capitol Police sergeant had no clue why Michael Byrd — the officer who killed Babbitt — had discharged his weapon.

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“I saw Lt. Byrd kind of. I don’t know if it was before or after,” the sergeant said. “I don’t know if something happened to him [that] caused him to take the shot or not.”

Byrd was exonerated of wrongdoing following a Capitol Police internal investigation.

The AP report also said Babbitt was a Libertarian and a supporter of the Second Amendment who often posted “profane rants against Democrats, COVID-19 mask mandates and illegal immigration.”

Biesecker wrote that some of Babbitt’s posts also repeated catchphrases used by QAnon, although it is difficult to gauge whether she believed the most radical views of the fringe right-wing movement.

Shortly after the AP report was published, many people on social media criticized the attack on Babbitt.

“Holy s*** you wrote a hit piece on a dead woman,” conservative commentator Cassandra MacDonald tweeted.

WARNING: The tweet below contains vulgar language some readers will find offensive.

Perhaps the most repeated criticism was the AP’s double standard. George Floyd — a man thought to be and characterized as a martyr by many on the political left after he died in Minneapolis police custody in May 2020 — has yet to receive such coverage detailing his own criminal past.

“Liberals get enraged when news outlets dig up dirt on the past of unarmed victims of police shootings in order to show they were ‘no angels’: i.e. to justify the shooting. Apparently it’s OK sometimes,” journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote.

“‘On social media, Babbitt identified as a Libertarian and ardent supporter of the Second Amendment. Her posts included videos of profane rants against Democrats, COVID-19 mask mandates and illegal immigration.’ Oh, in that case: glad the police killed her. Got what she deserved.”

Obviously, Ashli Babbitt has been unable to tell her side of the story when it comes to these accusations.

However, back in July, The Western Journal spoke with Michelle Witthoeft, Babbitt’s mother.

“The Capitol Police should be held accountable like every other police department in the country,” Witthoeft said.

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Michael wrote for a number of entertainment news outlets before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter. He now manages the writing and reporting teams, overseeing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Michael Austin graduated from Iowa State University in 2019. During his time in college, Michael volunteered as a social media influencer for both PragerU and Live Action. After graduation, he went on to work as a freelance journalist for various entertainment news sites before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter.

Since then, Michael has been promoted to the role of Manager of Writing and Reporting. His responsibilities now include managing and directing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Ames, Iowa
Iowa State University
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