05:13 GMT20 January 2021
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    The US mainstream media coverage of the Capitol Hill clashes contrasted starkly with how it treated last summer's Black Lives Matter riots, say US political commentators, who offered their explanation as to what appears to be a double-standard approach.

    Wednesday's Capitol Hill protests were excoriated by the US media, which described the event as an "attempted coup" and "insurrection", calling the mob "pro-Trump extremists". US President Donald Trump and the GOP leadership also condemned those who infiltrated the Capitol and were involved in looting and violent clashes.

    Still, some pundits have questioned the wording chosen by the mainstream press to portray the DC event, versus how the media characterised the months-long nation-wide Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd's death in May 2020. American journalist Andy Ngo wondered in his tweet as to why similarly strong language was not applied to the rioters "who stormed, destroyed, looted and torched government buildings" in the summer of 2020. "Why were the months-long attempts to burn down the federal courthouse in downtown Portland not called an 'insurrection'?" Ngo asked rhetorically.

    War of Narratives: Pro-Trump "Insurrection" Vs BLM "Peaceful Protests"

    "The mainstream media in America has been very biased", says National Security Public Safety Executive Derek Maltz. "And this is obviously very hypocritical, because when they were burning down Washington, DC, and Seattle, and Portland, Oregon, and Minneapolis, we never heard too many Democrats come out and speak about and condemn that kind of activity. They were breaking laws every day, they were destroying businesses, they were putting innocent business owners out of business. They were causing fear and anxiety from legitimate residents. And we never really heard anything."

    ​There is a big difference between how the BLM and Capitol Hill protests have been portrayed in the American media, Maltz emphasises, adding that this summer, the press was acting "like it was legitimate protest", while rioters were committing crimes. He denounced the group of DC demonstrators who "stepped well above the line" on 6 January, and "did something that was outrageous, and that should not be tolerated".

    "We don't approve of any of that type of violence," he says. "And it's really, really sad because the media is supposed to give the public the accurate information." 

    "The small mob of agitators that stormed into the capitol was a minuscule minority of the vast crowd of Americans who came to protest," argues Vlad Davidiuk, GOP strategist and political analyst. "To call the entire day of largely peaceful protest an insurrection or an incitement is a betrayal of the American promise of freedom and liberty."

    Davidiuk highlights that hundreds of thousands of Americans from across the country gathered in DC on 6 January – "young, old, black, white, Jews, Christian, Muslims." The gathering was aimed at "demanding accountability and transparency in the electoral process", while "the failure of leadership and law enforcement to maintain control led to the chaos we saw at the Capitol", according to him.

    "To label the largely peaceful protest as violent riots when no businesses were looted, no churches were burned, and no police stations were destroyed not only undermines reality but slanders good patriotic Americans who were marching and bringing their concerns to Congress," the Republican strategist opines.

    ​In contrast, the summer riots which were accompanied by "burning, looting and murdering innocent people and police officers" were referred to as "peaceful protests" by the mainstream media, Davidiuk points out.

    "Most experts now agree this was because the left viewed the rioting as beneficial to their political agenda to depict America as chaotic and out of control under Trump leading up to the election," he suggests. "The American people were not entirely on the side of BLM and Antifa - most Americans objected to the way these groups inflicted violence and disorder on their communities."

    In September 2020 national polls showed that US public approval towards the BLM movement had decreased since June. The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicated that 44% of Americans disapprove of BLM protests with 39% still endorsing the movement down from 54% in June 2020.

    ​"Both events, the BLM protests and the storming of the Capitol, were entirely stage-managed for use by the US state media except at the level of a certain percentage – it could even be the majority, I don’t know – of gullible, unknowing participants," presumes Ron Coleman, a New York attorney and political commentator. "There is no such thing as perception; easily half the American public 'perceives' what they are told by the official media."

    According to Coleman, the majority of Americans rely on official mainstream media brands, "which are part" of the Democratic Party, technocracy and Wall Street: "[The people's] opinions and even 'factual' understanding of the world are based on what these outlets spoon-feed them," he believes.

    A protester walks past the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.
    © AP Photo / Patrick Semansky
    A protester walks past the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.

    Biden, Harris Adding Fuel to the Fire

    Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden branded those breaching the Capitol building as nothing short of "domestic terrorists" while delivering a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday.

    “Don’t dare call them protesters. They were a riotous mob. Insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists. It’s that basic. It’s that simple," he said, pledging to pass a law against domestic terrorism.

    Having accused President Donald Trump of what he called "inciting the violence", Joe Biden also lashed out at the Capitol police, claiming that "if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday" they would have been treated "very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol".

    Biden's BLM remark has raised some eyebrows with Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, who criticised the president-elect for "play[ing] the race card by supporting the violent BLM group" and pitting it against the police. "Attacking cops in danger with baseless charges of racism [equates] healing!" For her part, ex-Fox News host Megyn Kelly accused Biden of "attacking cops in danger with baseless charges of racism".

    ​Vice President-elect Kamala Harris echoed Biden's criticism towards police, claiming that the Capitol police was not tough enough with Capitol Hill intruders, while "releasing tear gas on peaceful protesters last summer".

    ​However, Julio Rosas, a Townhall journalist and military veteran, called Harris out for making a "false" statement and arguing that "tear gas, pepper balls, pepper spray, and flashbangs were all used [on 6 January], just as they were used on rioters in 2020".

    American lawyer, author and radio personality Mark Levin referred to relatively mild rhetoric used by Kamala Harris towards BLM protesters. In particular, she said on record during The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on 18 June 2020 that anti-racism protests would not end until Election Day and "that they are not gonna let up and they should not".

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    police, violence, Capitol Hill, Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump, US
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