Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, one of four people to die during the Capitol building riots on January 6, died of natural causes, according to the Washington, D.C., medical examiner, Francisco J. Diaz. Sicknick suffered two strokes after returning to his office on January 6 and died on January 7.
But between the time of the riot and the ME’s report, officer Sicknick’s tragic death was used as a bloody shirt to inspire and inflame the emotions of the American people. Democrats and the media made full political use of the tragedy, despite plenty of evidence that should have given pause to the partisans. Sicknick’s body lay in state in the Capitol and his life was praised by members of both parties.
Politicians will be politicians and being a member of Congress means never having to say you’re sorry about lying. But what’s the media’s excuse?
On January 8, the New York Times kicked off the disinformation campaign by publishing a gut-wrenching piece claiming that Sicknick’s skull was bashed in by pro-Trump rioters who used a fire extinguisher to murder him. Incredibly, if you ask people today how Sicknick died, most people will cite the New York Times story as if it were gospel — despite the fact that we’ve known for weeks that the Times story was a fairytale.
Glenn Greenewald has been a skeptic from the beginning.
As I detailed over and over when examining this story, there were so many reasons to doubt this storyline from the start. Nobody on the record claimed it happened. The autopsy found no blunt trauma to the head. Sicknick’s own family kept urging the press to stop spreading this story because he called them the night of January 6 and told them he was fine — obviously inconsistent with the media’s claim that he died by having his skull bashed in — and his own mother kept saying that she believed he died of a stroke.
But the gruesome story of Sicknick’s “murder” was too valuable to allow any questioning. It was weaponized over and over to depict the pro-Trump mob not as just violent but barbaric and murderous, because if Sicknick weren’t murdered by them, then nobody was (without Sicknick, the only ones killed were four pro-Trump supporters: two who died of a heart attack, one from an amphetamine overdose, and the other, Ashli Babbitt, who was shot point blank in the neck by Capitol Police despite being unarmed). So crucial was this fairy tale about Sicknick that it made its way into the official record of President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, and they had Joe Biden himself recite from the script, even as clear facts mounted proving it was untrue.
Incredibly, Greenwald was denounced by many Democrats as a “Sicknick truther” for questioning the dominant narrative.
Glenn Greenwald has been on the Sicknick Truther case for weeks now and he hasn't even heard of Rosanne Boyland. Which is either a measure of how deep his bubble of disinformation is or how little he gives a fuck about reality. https://t.co/u0mi63vodV
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) February 25, 2021
It must have been a source of enormous satisfaction for Greenwald to achieve vindication about this story.
Truth matters. Noble lies are never justified no matter the cause, especially in journalism. But these employees of corporate media outlets have been taught the exact opposite model: that their primary obligation is to please and flatter the partisan agenda and political sensibilities of their audience even if it means lying or recklessly spreading unproven theories to do it. That is their profit model. And they have trained their audiences to want and expect this and that is why they never feel compelled to engage in any self-critique or accountability when they get caught doing this: their audiences want to be lied to — they are grateful for it — and would prefer that they not admit they did it so that their partisan interests will not be undermined.
What is most depressing about this entire spectacle is that, this time, they exploited the tragic death of a young man to achieve their tawdry goals. They never cared in the slightest about Officer Brian Sicknick. They had just spent months glorifying a protest movement whose core view is that police officers are inherently racist and abusive. He had just become their toy, to be played with and exploited in order to depict the January 6 protest as a murderous orgy carried out by savages so primitive and inhuman that they were willing to fatally bash in the skull of a helpless person or spray them with deadly gases until they choked to death on their own lung fluids. None of it was true, but that did not matter — and it still does not to them — because truth, as always, has nothing to do with their actual function. If anything, truth is an impediment to it.
The New York Times eventually got around to correcting their original “reporting” that Sicknick’s head was bashed in on February 15.
The article, headlined “Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump Rampage,” now prominently features an “update” at the top of the page.
“New information has emerged regarding the death of the Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick that questions the initial cause of his death provided by officials close to the Capitol police,” the note reads, without a concession or apology from the Times for perpetuating a conspiracy about Sicknick’s death that Democrats weaponized to pursue a second impeachment of Donald Trump.
These are the kind of things that the KGB and the Stasi used to do. Now Democrats are doing it here. And they’re getting a helping hand from a “free press” that has stooped to licking the hands of its political masters to gain favor and wealth.
Officer Sicknick was indeed a hero. He died while in service to his country and community. The injustice done to his memory will go unpunished and little-noted — just a few gadfly journalists like Glenn Greenwald and bomb-throwers like me.
Welcome to 21st-century America.