Earlier this week, we learned that the inspector general of the U.S. Department of the Interior officially debunked the claim that former President Donald Trump had used tear gas to clear protesters from Lafayette Square last year. However, readers of my bestselling book, Breaking the News: Exposing the Establishment Media’s Hidden Deals and Secret Corruption, would already have known the story was pure, uncut fake news.
On June 1, 2020, in the middle of the season of Black Lives Matter riots, Trump delivered a speech on law and order from the White House and then walked across the NW D.C. plaza to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo op where he held a bible. Law enforcement cleared a path for Trump and a small cadre of White House officials. This became one of countless anti-Trump media-induced hysterias, with Democrat politicians and establishment media outlets reporting that Trump had personally gassed citizens who were protesting peacefully.
If you are someone who gets news from outlets like CNN and popular twitter leftists, or believe prominent Democrats are trustworthy on such matters, the I.G. report would have been news to you. Yet, if you were a reader of conservative new media outlets like Breitbart News or a listener to conservative talk radio that week, then you probably have known for over a year that this was another example of pure, uncut fake news.
I documented the fake news cycle in Breaking the News. We are publishing the relevant excerpt below unedited.
We at Breitbart eagerly await corrections and retractions from the outlets and individuals who pushed this smear on Trump and law enforcement personnel.
On June 1, 2020, President Trump took a short walk from the White House across Lafayette Square to the church, which also became a brief media obsession. In order to clear a path for the president and a select few members of his administration, the police took relatively extreme measures to disperse a group of protesters so that POTUS and his coterie could pass. (Lafayette Square is a common location for political protests and gatherings and has become a main rallying point for Black Lives Matter activism in D.C. A few days later, Mayor Muriel Bowser would create Black Lives Matter Plaza just north of the square.) The Democrat Media Complex, as they so often do, wildly exaggerated the law enforcement response, stating that they had used tear gas on peaceful protesters. Jake Tapper’s CNN show featured a chyron at the bottom of the screen that said “Peaceful Protesters Tear Gassed for Trump Church Photo-Op.”
Some other examples of how the events were described by prominent media and Democrat figures:
Elizabeth Warren: “The President of the United States tear-gassed peaceful protestors”
Joe Biden: “He’s using the American military against the American people”
Hillary Clinton: “Tonight the President of the United States used the American military to shoot peaceful protestors with rubber bullets & tear gas them”
CNN’s Oliver Darcy: “. . . [P]eaceful protesters just had rubber bullets and teargas shot at them so the President could have that photo op”
Podcast host and Obama bro Jon Favreau: “The President had peaceful protesters shot with tear gas and rubber bullets so he could get his picture taken”
Kamala Harris: “Donald Trump just tear-gassed peaceful protesters for a photo op.”
The list is endless.
Now, I don’t think the president was wise to make this jaunt to the famed house of worship at that particular moment, and I said so on my radio show Breitbart News Daily at the time. The president had just given a tight and persuasive speech on the need for law and order and he distracted from his own narrative. But clearing out a couple of protesters was hardly gassing his own people.
Still, former president Obama even repeated the tear gas lie at the funeral for congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis.
Not one of these statements was retracted when Washington, D.C.–based WTOP reported that the Park Police said they deployed smoke canisters, not tear gas. They also said the protesters, who were warned multiple times to disperse, hurled water bottles at cops. When a curfew took effect a few minutes later, many of these same protesters ignored it.
From a statement put out by the USPP:
As many of the protestors became more combative, continued to throw projectiles, and attempted to grab officers’ weapons, officers then employed the use of smoke canisters and pepper balls. No tear gas was used by USPP officers or other assisting law enforcement partners to close the area at Lafayette Park.
So not only was there no tear gas used, but the smoke wasn’t used until the protesters had become violent and attempted to grab officers’ weapons.
Even Nancy Pelosi ultimately acknowledged perhaps it might not have been tear gas after all. She said to MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “Maybe they didn’t have tear gas, I don’t know. But they had the elements of it.” Whatever that means.
Actress Mia Farrow tweeted, without irony, that the president should have stopped and listened to the unruly mob outside the White House on his way to St. John’s. As silly as this sentiment is, it’s also dangerous.
All of this lying was to suggest that violence was carried out on Trump’s behalf.
As the expression goes, the boy was crying “wolf.”
Soon after the president’s controversial walk across Lafayette Square, new eight-foot-tall barriers were placed along the White House perimeter. Violent “protesters” tried and failed to take them down.
Alex Marlow is the Editor-in-Chief of Breitbart News, the host of Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM’s Patriot Channel 125, and the author of the new book, Breaking the News: Exposing the Establishment Media’s Hidden Deals and Secret Corruption. You can follow Alex on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @AlexMarlow.