Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center rushed to defend a Republican congressman accused to leading a tour of the Capitol complex in which suspicious behavior occurred. In a June 15 post, Kevin Tober clung to a Capitol Police investigation that allegedly cleared Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk of wrongdoing while downplaying additional evidence the committee released:
On Wednesday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Norah O’Donnell and congressional correspondent Seth MacFarlane erroneously linked Republican Congressman Barry Loudermilk (GA) to an alleged advanced reconnaissance inside the Capitol building prior to the January 6 riots at the Capitol. This despite Capitol Police stating that nothing suspicious or out of the ordinary was spotted on surveillance cameras.
Not letting facts get in the way, O’Donnell hyped the report claiming “there's some new developments in the January 6 investigation. The House Select Committee today released stunning new video that's raising questions about whether there was advanced reconnaissance inside the capitol the day before the insurrection.”
She then went to the January 6 obsessed MacFarlane who claimed “the committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol is focusing on the man in the gray sweatshirt. Seen on surveillance video taking photos of staircases and hallways in the Capitol complex on January 5, the day before the attack.” Adding that “a day later, they say he was recording this video amid a crowd marching to the capitol.”
Nicholas Fondacaro did the same thing in a post the next day:
With the Democrat-led January 6 Committee dredging up the long-debunked conspiracy theory that Republicans Congressman Barry Loudermilk (GA) was involved in helping the Capitol rioters plan the attack, ABC’s The View had all they needed to gaslight their viewers with lies and disinformation designed to smear Republicans. They even lashed out at the Capitol Police who exonerated Loudermilk after their own investigation found that neither he nor anyone in the tour group did anything wrong.
“So, Loudermilk insists, like last night, that the Capitol Police already investigated and found nothing shady, and he doubled down that it was just a wholesome family tour,” co-host Whoopi Goldberg announced in a mocking accent.
Following a soundbite of Loudermilk on Fox News explaining the nature of the tour group and how the Capitol Police had investigated and found no wrongdoing, self-proclaimed “Republican” Ana Navarro, who’s not known for her oversized wit, proclaimed Loudermilk should change his name to “lying butter.”
Gripping her tinfoil hat as tightly as she could, Hostin praised the committee for battling the Capitol Police. “And I'm not sure why they did that, but then in response to that, the January 6 Committee released some of that video that we saw,” she touted.
And just like that, the Capitol Police, who were portrayed as the bravest of paladins fighting off the Trumpist hoards, were suddenly relegated to the trash and called liars just because the Democrats on the committee have a false narrative to weave.
“They have all their stuff in order,” Goldberg touted the committee as the play-off music sounded. “Here's the proof. How you can deny stuff that's on tape, always knocks me out.”
The real question is, how can any sane or non-politically motivated person look at the Capitol Police’s findings and still push a debunked conspiracy theory?
Neither Tober nor Fondacaro commented on the fact that newly released evidence like this -- that the tour participants took photos of non-touristy things and one of them was part of the Capitol riot the next day -- tends to raise questions about previous denials and the Capitol Police's clearing of Loudermilk, which presumably did not have access to this video. As the Washingotn Post noted, Loudermilk long -- and falsely -- denied there was any tour at all and has made statements about the tour that seem to contradict the new evidence.
Despite the discrepancies, the MRC's defense of Loudermilk continued. Mark Finkelstein complained in a June 16 post:
Such a tough hombre, that Joe Scarborough! On Thursday's Morning Joe, Ragin' Bull Scarborough twice fantasy-bragged about what he would do if he saw someone taking photos of security areas in the Capitol, claiming he'd threaten them with feeding them the camera.
Joe's flight of macho fantasy came in the context of a discussion of a Capitol tour Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia had given the day before the January 6 riot. Video later emerged of a member of the tour taking pictures during the tour. Scarborough claimed it was of security areas such as metal detectors. But as NewsBusters analyst Kevin Tober has noted, that is apparently not true. The Capitol Police reviewed video of the tour and found nothing suspicious.
And in his hyping of staffers from "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" being arrested in the Capitol complex allegedly without authorization, Tim Graham used a June 18 post to quote a writer from the right-wing RedState claiming it was "incredibly ironic that Democrats went after Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) for just having guests at the complex taking pictures of the artwork." As we documented, the MRC portrayed the staffers' arrest as the next Capitol riot but censored the news when charges against the staffers were dropped because they had, in fact, been properly let into the Capitol.