During the all-important lead-up to the US election, a low point for President Trump was the Black Lives Matter riots in the capital. We learnt from the ABC 7pm TV news June 1 last year that Trump ordered his enforcement troops to clear peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Park next to the White House with tear gas and rubber bullets. This was to enable him to walk across to St John’s Church, “the Church of Presidents”, and wave a Bible for a photo opp.
It perfectly validated the narrative of Trump as the brutal, egotistical and unelectable buffoon — except that each element I’ve put in bold type above was false. The park was cleared to allow civilian contractors to put up a scale-proof fence to prevent further arson and vandalism in the park. Trump’s impromptu walk was never a consideration. When Attorney-General Barr told the on-site construction commander mid-afternoon that Trump was coming out, he replied, “Are you freaking kidding me?”
Nonetheless the media strategy worked and within a month, “support for [Joe] Biden shot up and it’s been pretty steady since then.”
The real story has emerged, a full year later, from a 41-page report by Inspector General Mark Greenblatt, of the Department of the Interior. It’s meticulously objective and referenced. It covered the role of the federal US Parks Police (USPP) which led the clearing of the square. The clearance had been arranged two days earlier. Park chief Gregory Monahan told the inquiry, “I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the Secret Service and the Park Police timeline did not change the entire day.”
NBC News is America’s top-rated broadcaster (and, like CNN, thoroughly captured by the Biden forces). Ken Dilanian is the network’s intelligence and national security correspondent. He told viewers last week about the report,“A narrative we thought we knew is not the reality.” Nice to hear a confession about the media’s pervasive fakery.
The ABC recycles these networks’ material into Australian homes, covering the Trump walk with its usual bias and incompetence. Let’s take just one element of the coverage, the “tear gas”.
To the ABC, the white stuff in the air around the park was “tear gas”, whereas it was actually harmless smoke fired by law enforcers to intimidate rioters pelting police with missiles. Stills and movie footage showed troopers walking around in the “tear gas” without gas masks, a detail overlooked by the stupid journos.
The Parks Police convincingly denied at the time that they had used any tear gas that day, while acknowledging using tear gas Saturday and Sunday against violent mobs.
Keith Windschuttle: The ABC and Corruption in High Places
I actually tangled with my buddies in the ABC Complaints Panel over that, telling them tear gas was not used on June 1. They refused to correct anything partly because the “tear gas” expression covered virtually any irritant, they said. They also responded that actual tear gas was present. Guess what? Tear gas was used in a side-street separate from the crowd at the square, by the Metropolitan Police hours after the square had been cleared. Those police said they were defending against oncoming protestors throwing missiles, including an incendiary device that burnt one officer.
The ABC Complaints crowd were thus correct — well done, ABC! However, these police were in fact under the command of the Democrat’s black Mayor Muriel Bowser. These police actually defied orders from the federal forces not to use tear gas. You can see now how narratives unravel.
The mayor has tied herself in knots over what she called the “shameful” affray: “If you are like me, you saw something that you hoped you would never see in the United States of America.” This, notwithstanding that her own cops did the tear-gassing. Irony of ironies, BLM activists are sueing the city over their tear gas injuries. In defence the mayor’s legal team argue that tear gas was fully justified to enforce her 7pm curfew and any future curfew.
If you can stand any more irony, the Biden administration is now backing the mayor and arguing that clearing of Lafayette Square was justified: “Presidential security is a paramount government interest … federal officers do not violate First Amendment rights by moving protesters a few blocks, even if the protesters are predominantly peaceful.”
The enormous skill of the ABC today is in ignoring awkward news (as here) when not actually suppressing it to assist their favored candidate’s election (as with the national broadcaster’s scant attention to Hunter Biden’s laptop scandal).
To be fair to the ABC, which I always am, the forces did use other irritants, pepper balls and pepper spray, which they fired from devices like paintgun launchers. The forces using it were firstly Secret Service officers who acted independently of the Park Police and in several ways fouled up the Park’s quasi-military planning. Secondly, pepper balls were used by federal Bureau of Prisons police, again contrary to Park Police rules of engagement. Third, SWAT officers embedded with the Park Police also used pepper ball rounds, stinger ball grenades without irritant, and white smoke without irritant – in self-defence, they say.
To be even more fair to the ABC, to my surprise it didn’t totally deep-six the Inspector General’s report negating their hysterical wall-to-wall accounts of a year ago. It ran a puny print piece about it last week from AP: “No political interference in decision to clear protesters from park ahead of Donald Trump photo op, investigation finds”.
AP gave the report contents six paras, followed by four sceptical paragraphs starting, “The conclusions… are likely to be dismissed as insufficient by critics of last summer’s crackdown.”
We need to pause here to describe the afore-mentioned crowd-control munitions. From the Inspector-General’s report:
Stinger ball grenades are handheld grenades that dispel rubber pellets, a bright flash of light, and a loud sound. Stinger ball pellets are intended to cause only temporary pain. Flash-bang grenades are handheld grenades that emit a loud sound and bright light and are used as a distraction tactic. Smoke is a handheld canister that delivers non-irritant smoke and is a distraction tactic. Pepper balls are plastic balls that contain a pepper-based irritant powder and cause irritation. Pepper spray is a vapor, derived from cayenne pepper plants, that can be dispersed through a handheld device or shoulder delivery system and causes irritation.
All these are a far cry from the media’s “tear gas” and “rubber bullets”, which are low-velocity but tough enough to cause exploding eyes, permanent disablement and death. No such bullets were used.
Victims of the lightweight munitions actually used included none other than our Channel 7’s reporter Amelia Brace and her cameraman Tim Myers, reporting live. Brace testified to Congress that while shouting “Media!” she was hit by non-lethal but painful projectiles from “police”. She and Myers were “not too bad” and the effects from the tear gas were worse [sic – no tear gas was used on the street where the pair were reporting].
“We’re a bit sore,” she said. “I actually managed to get a rubber bullet to the backside and Tim got one in the back of the neck, so we’ll have a few bruises tomorrow but we’re perfectly safe.”
This regrettable incident even gets a footnote in the Inspector General’s report.
The ABC news report about Brace and Myers, likewise regrettably, included the untruth that the park was cleared to permit Trump’s photo opp.
The ABC and every other Left outlet called the Washington DC demonstrators “peaceful” (an outright lie) or “mostly peaceful”, meaning that at worst, only 49 per cent of the individuals present were torching buildings and throwing Molotov cocktails. Among similar classics was a US commercial TV news presenter saying “peaceful” while a city tower blazed behind him, and a hack emphasising “peaceful” an instant before a rioter threw a well-aimed bottle at his head. I also rather liked the ABC’s,
A day of mainly peaceful protest in New York City is marred when a man is shot after stabbing a police officer in the neck.
According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, 93 per cent of the US riots have been peaceful, which leaves a healthy 7 per cent wriggle-room for arson and looting. The January 6 invasion of the Capitol building by Trump fans and FBI undercover agents is never described as “mainly peaceful”.
The Inspector-General says the total Park Police injured on Saturday and Sunday was at least 49, including one needing surgery after a brick hit his head. Attorney-General Barr said at the time – and the Washington Post didn’t dispute – that total police injuries that weekend were 150. Perhaps the police were getting a bit edgy?
It was May 25 that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed fentanyl-addled ex-gaolbird and thug George Floyd and started the riots. In Washington DC pillagers got busy in what the local news called an “escalating citywide rampage of looting and arson.” This is vital context for the park clearance on June 1.
Among victims and targets in the 4km downtown war zone were the mainly black night-guards, some huddling and crying in fear. ATM machines and bank lobbies were smashed and robbed. Activists scrabbled for small change from shop cash registers on footpaths. At least two pharmacies and many liquor stores were looted. Near the woke Washington Post’s own offices, looters smashed a Starbucks, a Corner Bakery and a health-food store.
Rioters smashed windows of unionists’ AFL-CIO headquarters and set blazes in the lobby. There were so many small fires — including by the World Bank headquarters — that plumes of smoke partly covered the Washington Monument. The New York Post’s account:
Shortly before 1 am Monday, a sizable group proceeded uninhibited [read ‘unimpeded by police’] toward the east of the downtown area, smashing windows of office buildings as they went as firetrucks and police vehicles waited on standby blocks away. Mannequins were ripped from Jcrew near Chinatown and H&M and Sephora stores were attacked.
In Georgetown, one of the oldest and ritziest residential areas of Washington, retail shops were ransacked, with significant theft and destruction at Lululemon, Nike, Warby Parker and Sunglass Hut…
A shaken African-American man working as a security guard on K St shook his head and said he refused a free bottle of booze. He said he knew the man who ran the shop.
‘They say they’re doing this for George Floyd, but they’re doing the same thing to people that police did to him,’ he said.”
On Friday, May 29, Secret Service officers hustled President Trump to a secure White House bunker, fearing that even the White House perimeter could be breached. On Saturday lines of officers defending the darkened White House were pelted with hundreds of bottles and bricks.
According to Park Police at the time, “Intelligence had revealed calls for violence against the police, and officers found caches of glass bottles, baseball bats and metal poles hidden along the street.”
Police made a puny 18 arrests on Saturday and 88 on Sunday. The police chief explained that arrests “agitate the crowds and it becomes very volatile and very dangerous for our officers.” He did offer a $US1000 bounty per looter.
The Trump saga and stitch-up by the media occurred on the Monday and its focus was the 205-year-old historic St John’s, known as the Church of the Presidents, only 300m from the White House and hit by arsonists on Sunday May 31.
The bishop, Mariann Budde, was at the church that day praising the BLM crowds. Regardless, rioters that evening occupied the church grounds, graffitied the exterior, and stole the church’s American flag and burnt it, to cheers of the mob.
About 10.30pm arsonists broke in and lit a fire in the basement which burnt out the newly-renovated nursery there. It failed to spread and the church’s many priceless historic items were saved. According to reports next day, riot police fought to get the fire-fighting trucks through the mob to the church, the mob hurling fireworks and at least one Molotov cocktail.
The bishop and the rector next day “stressed that the systemic racism and police brutality that ignited the recent unrest are far bigger concerns” than the fire. Nonetheless a year later the church was still damaged and needing six-figure donations to see it fixed.
That same Sunday, Democrat Mayor Bowser ordered an 11pm curfew, arguing, “numerous businesses and government buildings were vandalized, burned, or looted. Over the past nights, there has been a glorification of violence particularly in the later hours of the night … The health, safety, and well-being of persons within the District of Columbia are threatened and endangered by the existence of these violent actions.”
She claimed her police’s tear-gassing of crowds that evening was to enforce the curfew. “We certainly empathize with the righteous cause that people are here protesting,” Bowser said. “However, smashed windows and looting are becoming a bigger story.”
Unfazed, she had the words “Black Lives Matter” painted 10m tall on 16th Street near the White House a few days later, and renamed the site “Black Lives Matter Plaza”. Within a day BLM painters added “Defund the Police”.
When something fits the ABC’s narrative, like Trump’s walk, the ABC organises a pile-on from all points of its commentariat. When its own reporters tire, it summons anti-Trumpers from outside to join the fray. Here’s bits of the pile-on:
The ABC’s Zoe Daniel managed to cram a maximum of wrong stuff into one feature. She began by alleging Trump “had presided over the [Covid19] deaths of more than 100,000 Americans” – which is like saying that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has “presided over the deaths of more than 900 Australians” – 90 percent of whom died through Premier Dan Andrews’ Victorian incompetence and political cupidity.
The first outright untruth:
Others, of course, saw the President’s excursion very differently, as the historic Lafayette Square, now trampled and graffitied, was forcibly cleared of protesters and press to allow for it.
The ABC linked the Zoe Daniels piece to Four Corners reporter Stephanie March writing about Antifa. She claimed, ludicrously, that Antifa looters and arsonists were mums, dads and others “doing their part to stand up for the oppressed” against Trump. She also resurrected the lie that Trump had praised Nazis at Charlottesville.
Lies sprouted in ABC headlines. “Why did Trump have the area cleared?” He didn’t. This article claimed, “It was [Attorney-General] Barr who then gave the order for law enforcement to clear out the protest before Mr Trump’s walk.” He didn’t.
The ABC was delighted to quote religious leaders and cranks:
Rabbi Jack Moline, the president of Interfaith Alliance, slammed the fact peaceful protesters [untrue] near the White House were gassed [untrue] and shot with rubber bullets [untrue] so Mr Trump could hold his photo opportunity [untrue]. This only underscores the President’s complete lack of compassion for Black Americans and the lethal consequences of racism.
Another columnist dredged up to buttress the ABC narrative was Professor John J. Thatamanil at Union Theological Seminary in New York. To say he’s Trump-deranged is putting it mildly:
Trump has inflicted greater damage to St. John’s Episcopal Church than any arsonist ever could … Trump reduced the church and the Bible alike to profane props in his grandstanding theatricality…By waving a Bible after violently quashing a peaceful protest of George Floyd’s murder, Trump places it once more on the side of white supremacy — a long and unholy American tradition.
And so on, a lot. The ABC’s religious editor loves to run Thatamanil.
The ABC’s then-US bureau chief David Lipson did his tribute to pack-journalism via pastes from the Washington Post, enlivened by his own presence near the allegedly brutalised “peaceful protestors”, including fellow hacks and priests. He wrote, “Former CIA operatives found the events outside the White House so troubling, they were reminded of the strongmen ruling over failing states that they used to monitor.”
Lipson’s chief quote-whore was Marc Polymeropoulos, who he says ran CIA operations in Europe and Asia, and who tweeted, “Saddam. Bashar. Qaddafi. They all did this”. Hey David! Why not just call Trump “Hitler” and be done with it?
ABC News perpetually brags about how trusted it is. Pardon my scepticism.
Tony Thomas’s next book from Connor Court, Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars, will be launched on June 30. The venue is il Gamberos Restaurant, 166 Lygon St, Carlton Vic at 6.30pm. All welcome. To register (free) click on this Eventbrite event or email Tony at email@example.com
 Greenblatt was a Trump appointee to the position but the report’s careful sourcing and forensics speak for themselves.
 Strictly-speaking, tear gas involves CS gas 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile and is seriously incapacitating compared with typical crowd-control gases. Exposure causes a burning sensation and tearing of the eyes to the extent that the subject cannot keep their eyes open, and a burning irritation of the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth and throat, resulting in profuse coughing, nasal mucus discharge, disorientation, and difficulty breathing. It is named after the initials of its inventors, Ben Corson and Roger Stoughton.
 There were seven federal and state bureaus involved in the affray, with their own enforcers, all of whom I call, for convenience, “police”.
 As someone says, no military plan survives contact with the enemy.
 “As the USPP and ACPD civil disturbance units approached the comfort station near the intersection of H and 16th Streets, two USPP officers engaged in a physical encounter with a news crew. As previously noted, specific uses of force by USPP officers are outside the scope of this review, and this specific incident is being reviewed separately by our office.”
 Lipson cited the lying Washington Post: “Barr personally ordered removal of protesters near White House, leading to use of force against largely peaceful crowd”. WaPo proudly published a fake 12-minute video timeline for which it won a 2021 duPont-Columbia Award. The citation read:
Piecing together cell phone video, police phone logs, and other artifacts, the Washington Post’s digital team reconstructed the clearing of Lafayette Park for President Trump’s “Bible photo op,” driving home the disconnect between political ends and violent means.