Over a year and a half later, why do journalists continue to share their purported trauma from January 6?
Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
It’s been more than 18 months, but the trauma Jan. 6 caused in the minds of our esteemed political class, be they politicians, journalists, or pundits, supposedly lingers on.
“Yikes. Just saw this gang walking around the Capitol and had a wave of #Jan6 anxiety,” Patricia Zengerle, a reporter for Reuters, tweeted. The “gang” in question wasn’t Patriot Front or the Oath Keepers, nor were they the Boogaloo or Proud Boys. The photo depicts less than ten people, not one visible under the age of 40 and a majority clearly over the age of 60, holding American flags and marching behind a red white and blue banner that reads “1776RestorationMovement.com.”
The group’s mission statement, per its website, reads that the “1776 Restoration Movement stands UNITED to peacefully redress our grievances and demand OUR government restore the Rule of Law and restore Our Constitutional Rights” (emphasis theirs).
Is that insurrection talk now? Our political elites, those on the receiving end of such grievances, would have it so.
By all accounts, even those the January 6 Committee allowed to be espoused during its Hollywood-produced hearings, Jan. 6 was a bizarre day in American history. A rag-tag group of Trump loyalists made their way to the U.S. Capitol Building after the Save America rally. A few hundred were let into the U.S. Capitol Building by Capitol Police after being egged on by members of the crowd that reportedly have ties to federal law enforcement. Others raided the Capitol themselves. President Donald Trump allegedly tried to pry the steering wheel of “the Beast” from the hands of a Secret Service agent to personally join the revelry. Capitol Police left the Capitol heavily under guarded, only to rapidly expand their presence in states across the Union to punish the “insurrectionists.” For its part, the FBI failed to convey the potential threat to the Capitol, but assisted in the capture of the “domestic extremists.” The alleged participants and lawbreakers that were rounded up, charged, and put in pretrial detention have been held in the D.C. federal jail in horrid conditions, even solitary confinement, since their arrest. Most have only been charged with some form of trespassing, with some notable exceptions.
The corporate media’s pundit class kicked into high gear. Finally, they had something that might actually justify more than four consecutive years of telling the public its DEFCON 1 for American democracy because of Trump. Jan. 6, they said, was the new 9/11 or Pearl Harbor or Bull Run or the Burning of Washington in 1812, and somehow worse.
The media’s strategy worked for a while, but the narrative didn’t stick like they hoped, and they know that. Why, then, over a year and a half later, do journalists like Zengerle continue to share their purported trauma from January 6? Because it was always about more than just sticking it to Trump on his way out the door.
There’s an old Trump meme that flies around the internet from time to time. It’s a picture of Trump sitting in a chair, pointing towards the camera. The text, in the classic Impact font, reads, “In reality they’re not after me, they’re after you. I’m just in the way.”
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It’s true. They don’t hate Trump because he’s Trump. They hate Trump for the people he represents: the steel worker from Youngstown; the auto worker from Dearborn; the farmer from Algona; the shipbuilder from Mobile; the small business owner from Prescott; the handyman that lives in a Kentucky holler. Trump himself isn’t in the “basket of deplorables,” as Hillary Clinton famously said on the campaign trail in 2016. They’re just the people who follow him. Remember, many of Trump’s most vocal critics spent decades making him the symbol of the modern American business titan—the Clintons included.
That’s what the Jan. 6 trauma tweets are really about. Maybe, Zengerle and company think, the deplorables can live freely, so long as they know their place: unseen, unheard, and far, far away from where us civilized, refined, and powerful people reside—and that includes online.