Around this time last year, then-President Donald Trump was on the receiving end of widespread media outrage over allegations that he authorized the use of tear gas against protesters near the White House.
Now, a watchdog agency’s investigation reveals that narrative to be fundamentally incorrect, as The Sun reports.
The myth is born
As a candidate, President Joe Biden latched on to the claim that the Trump administration cleared Lafayette Square of “peaceful protesters” in pursuit of a public appearance in front of the historic St. John’s church nearby.
Although Trump supporters largely applauded his decision to hold a Bible as he stood in front of the church, critics on the left and in the press dubbed the symbolic display a partisan photo op.
Worse still, they accused his White House of using violent force on protesters just so he could pose for the cameras.
The backlash struck many Americans as disproportionate amid the worst riots America had seen in decades and continuing impact of COVID-19. As a new report from the Department of the Interior’s inspector general asserts, the criticism wasn’t even rooted in the truth.
According to the investigation, Park Police cleared protesters so additional security fencing could be installed to protect the park from protesters.
The truth comes out
Notably, the order to clear the area was initiated “before they knew of a potential presidential visit to the park,” the report confirmed.
The explanation echos the response provided by the Trump administration at the time. Then-White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that then-Attorney General Bill Barr “determined that we needed to expand the perimeter by one block on each side” earlier that morning.
Of course, the mainstream media has long been accused of largely biased coverage of both the Trump administration and the often violent protests that broke out across the U.S. last summer. Whether by design or through carelessness, reporters spread a story about Trump enforcing an excessive response to the “peaceful protests” taking place outside of the White House.
With time, the narrative hardened into an election-season myth cited as fact by countless progressives — including Biden, who claimed that Trump was “using the American military against the American people…for a photo.”
For his part, Trump did not hesitate to celebrate the “total exoneration” against these claims, prompting the question: What other misinformation did Biden’s media allies spread in their goal of taking down Trump?