Conservative website RedState on Monday published and then retracted an article that angrily and falsely declared “Enough! There Was No Riot, Insurrection or ‘Storming!’” at the U.S. Capitol last week.
“Let me be real clear. There was no riot in DC. There was no insurrection. There was no ‘storming’ of the Capitol Building,” wrote the piece’s author Mike Ford, a retired infantry office. “There was a peaceful rally. There was a largely peaceful protest that was marred by some bad acts by a very few people. There was and is, absolutely nothing to be traumatized or intimidated by. It’s time to tell the press, the politicians and even our pastors, stop the gaslighting.”
The piece dismissed last Wednesday’s riot—which resulted in five deaths, including a police officer defending the building—as the actions of merely a “couple of bozos.” The vast majority of the rioters, Ford claimed, “were all staying inside the velvet guide ropes, surely not the actions of a rabid mob bent on violence or chaos.” The conservative writer also described the violence as being akin to “some pushing and shoving along the barrier line,” and claimed the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick was not “officially connected to any illegal, violent act.”
After immediate backlash online from critics pointing out the article’s numerous factual inaccuracies and potentially dangerous suggestions, RedState deleted the post. “Overnight, this article about January 6th was published,” the publication wrote in a note replacing the article’s text. “Many details, opinions, and analysis contained in the piece were either incorrect or inappropriate. It has been retracted and we regret its publication.”
Following its deletion, Ford retreated to the article’s comments section to justify his work, telling readers that his article was retracted for showing how “factually there was no ‘riot,’ ‘insurrection,’ or ‘storming’ of the Capitol Building.” Elsewhere in the comments, he traded in the popular right-wing conspiracy theory—one debunked by numerous reports and an FBI investigation—that “ANTIFA/BLM infiltrators wee [sic] definitely proven to be on the ground in advance and within the crowd.”
Over the past several years, RedState—launched in 2004 and currently owned by Salem Media, a publicly traded Christian conservative company—has morphed into yet another vociferously pro-Trump blog on the right, at times expelling any potential critics from within its own ranks.
As The Daily Beast reported, in April 2018, the site fired a handful of its most prominent writers, all of whom were openly and often critical of Trump. “There was a time that Republican politicians were terrified if [RedState] excoriated them from the front page,” then-fired contributor Ben Howe said at the time. “But the modern conservative movement seems to have grown tired of accountability. ‘Liberal tears’ is the new operating principle. Unless you’re causing those tears to flow you aren’t being a team player.”
And just last year, the right-wing site was caught up in a media scandal when, as The Daily Beast first reported, its trollish managing editor, who went by the pseudonym “streiff” and wrote blogs trashing immunology official Dr. Anthony Fauci as a “mask nazi” and suggesting some government officials should be hanged for the “massive fraud” known as the “Wuhan virus scare," turned out to be William B. Crews, a public-affairs specialist working for Fauci’s agency.