Saturday, July 31, 2021


By the standards of mainstream journalism, this New York Times story by Lisa Lerer and Nicholas Fandos about the Republican Party in the aftermath of the January 6 Capitol riot is surprisingly forthright.
Already Distorting Jan. 6, G.O.P. Now Concocts Entire Counternarrative

... This past week, amid the emotional testimony of police officers at the first hearing of a House select committee, Republicans completed their journey through the looking-glass, spinning a new counternarrative of that deadly day. No longer content to absolve Mr. Trump, they concocted a version of events in which accused rioters were patriotic political prisoners and Speaker Nancy Pelosi was to blame for the violence.

Their new claims, some voiced from the highest levels of House Republican leadership, amount to a disinformation campaign being promulgated from the steps of the Capitol....

This rendering of events ... pointed to what some democracy experts see as a dangerous new sign in American politics: Even with Mr. Trump gone from the White House, many Republicans have little intention of abandoning the prevarication that was a hallmark of his presidency.
If I wanted to be churlish, I could point out that I told you in early February that the GOP was blaming Pelosi for the riot. Still, I'm pleased that Times readers understand this now.

We're told that the disinformation is coming from Trump himself and from "leading House Republicans" such as Kevin McCarthy and Elise Stefanik. But then we're given the impression that there's a large segment of the party that's not on board with the disinformation campaign, although they lack the courage to do anything about it
Some senior Republicans insist that warnings of a whitewash are overwrought.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to be successful erasing what happened,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas. “Everybody saw it with their own eyes and the nation saw it on television.”

For Mr. Cornyn and other lawmakers, continuing to talk about the attack is clearly an electoral loser at a time when they are trying to retake majorities in Congress and avoid Mr. Trump’s ire.

Most Republican lawmakers instead simply try to say nothing at all, declining even to recount the day’s events, let alone rebuke members of their party for spreading falsehoods or muddying the waters.

Asked how he would describe the riot, in which a hostile crowd demanded the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence, his brother, Representative Greg Pence of Indiana, responded curtly, “I don’t describe it.”

Yet the silence of party stalwarts, including nearly all of the House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump for his role in the attack and the Republican senators who voted to convict him, has created an information void that hard-right allies of Mr. Trump have readily filled.
Do you buy this? Do you believe that this is merely reticence or cowardice that's created "a void" the extremist fringe takes advantage of?

I don't. John Cornyn and Greg Pence know that they're benefiting from what the extremists are saying. It fires up the base and keeps the contributions flowing, and will likely lead to high turnout in 2022.

They also know that it's important to keep persuading the mainstream media -- and, with it, swing voters -- that the GOP isn't completely crazy. They know they need to preserve the myth, for centrist voters and the MSM, that the "real" GOP is people like Cornyn and Pence (and Pence's brother).

They're sending two messages into two different media environments. And as long as the worst than can be said of Republicans like Cornyn and Pence is that they're not doing enough to stop the crazies, they can still insist that the whole party isn't crazy even if it is clearly dominated by crazies.

Meanwhile, they let the crazies thwart any effort to hold those responsible for January 6 accountable, and they reap the benefits while keeping their own hands clean. What's not to like?

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