Politifact or Politihack?

Politifact’s Amy Sherman Spreads Misinformation, Lies about Jan. 6 Capitol Protest

  • Smears Rep. Andrew Clyde for properly defining “insurrection”
  • Controversy continues over the events of January 6, but most basic facts have emerged
  • Rep. Andrew Clyde smeared by Politifact relying on cherry picked facts, exaggerated claims

OUR RATING = Trash Journalism, aka the Daily Beast.

Indicted Outlet: Amy Sherman | PolitiFact | Link | Archive

Rather than give a balanced and fair presentation of the January 6 Capitol protest, Politifact fact checker Amy Sherman relies on exaggerated media reports and hyperbole to smear Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde’s statement that: “Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol … . If you didn’t know the TV footage was from Jan. 6, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.”

Major Violations:

  • Unbalanced
  • Missing Context
  • Misrepresentation
  • Lying

According to Fact Checker Sherman, “Clyde’s comparison of the breach of the Capitol to a ‘normal tourist visit’ is a ridiculous assertion.” 

Fact Checker Sherman gives us two images to compare, and on the basis of the disparity between the two, rates Rep. Clyde’s claim “false.” 

Here’s the first image of a tourist visit in the Capitol presented by Sherman: 

“…here is what a normal visit looks like for tourists: They go on guide-led tours of historic areas. They buy souvenirs at the gift shop. They view temporary exhibits. They dine in the restaurant. And they do it all without bringing in weapons (or even water).” 

Now, for the so-called “insurrection” that happened on January 6, here’s the image Fact Checker Sherman gives us: 

“They forced their way through barricades and past law enforcement to breach the building. They smashed windows and broke doors. They ransacked offices. They chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” They attacked police officers. They caused the House and Senate to shut down for several hours on the day they were certifying the presidential election. One put his feet up on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and left her a nasty note. None of these actions are things that tourists normally do at the Capitol.” 

This second image is false, misleading and full of lies. Sherman is taking Clyde’s comparison and blowing small events out of proportion to make it seem that the minuscule acts of vandalism represent the majority of the protesters. Sherman says “They” to mean every protester, but the truth of the matter is that the actions she complains about were very limited on January 6th. 

Here’s the list of verbs that Sherman uses to imply that every protester engaged in violence during the protest:

  • forced
  • breach
  • smashed
  • broke
  • ransacked
  • chanted
  • attacked
  • shut down

These are words meant to scapegoat every single attendee and to assign collective guilt.

Sherman is not delineating who broke windows versus who just walked into the Capitol. She’s saying everyone “forced” “breached” “smashed” “broke” “ransacked” “chanted” “attacked” and “shut down.” This is a fundamental misrepresentation of events.

Evidence shows that the majority of protesters resembled tourists but for the fact that they didn’t go through police security. It is important to note that multiple videos show police officers may have let the protesters in and were even seen taking selfies with the protesters. [1] 

Just this week video evidence emerged of Capitol Police allowing protesters to enter the building and remain if they continued to remain peaceful. [2]

Second, the only instance of attacking police officers is one, single, solitary case in which two men have been charged with assault on an officer with a dangerous weapon. [3] So there was no collective “they” who attacked police officers. It was two men who attacked a single police officer.

The media pattern on their reporting is to overemphasize the violence and to paint with such a wide brush that obviously false reports about the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick fooled the New York Times for months, where they originally reported he had a “bloody gash” and where, in reality, he died from an unrelated personal medical problem. Most of those being charged with federal crimes are not being charged with violence, they are being charged with some form of trespass. This is major context missing from all the media reporting on the Capitol protest. 

As for shutting down the House and the Senate, that does not prima facie prove the protesters were armed and dangerous. In fact, this isn’t the first time a group has breached the Capitol. In 2018, the Women’s March breached the barricades and sat on the Capitol Hill steps [4]. 

Finally, Sherman complains that a protester left a nasty note for Nancy Pelosi. It is ridiculous to claim a tourist would never do something like that. Is it ‘insurrection’ now to write nasty notes to politicians?

Fact Checker Sherman also excludes context by omitting the rest of Rep. Clyde’s statement, and in so doing she omits certain facts that make Rep. Clyde’s first-hand testimony more compelling. Clyde was at the Capitol January 6, and he gives his own first-hand testimony of events that are contrary to Fact Checker Sherman’s narrative.  

Here is a more thorough transcript of Rep. Clyde’s statement: 

“This hearing is called the capitol insurrection. Let’s be honest with the American people. It was not an insurrection, and we cannot call it that and be truthful. The Cambridge Dictionary defines an insurrection as: “an organized attempt by a group of people to defeat their government and take control of their country, usually by violence.” And then from the Century Dictionary: “the act of rising against civil authority or governmental restraint, specifically the armed resistance of a number of persons to the power of the state.” As one of the members who stayed in the Capitol on the House floor who, with other Republican colleagues, helped barricade the door until almost 3 pm that day from the mob who tried to enter, I can tell you the House floor was never breached and it was not an insurrection. This is the truth. There was an undisciplined mob. There were some rioters and some who committed acts of vandalism, but let me be clear: there was no insurrection and to call it an insurrection is a bold-faced lie. Watching the TV footage of those who entered the capitol and walked through the statuary hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. You know if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January 6 you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit…” 

If one watches the video Clyde is referring to, anyone would reasonably conclude that a comparison to a tourist visit is an accurate description. [5] The protesters are walking in an orderly fashion and staying within the stanchion barriers. So, no, this is not a ridiculous claim as Sherman claims. 

Rep. Clyde goes on to cite the fact that no armed protesters breached the Capitol and the only shots fired were by a Capitol police officer, which ultimately killed a Trump supporter, Ashley Babbitt. The Gateway Pundit has already written a fact check debunking the claim that the events on January 6 were an “insurrection.” [6] 

Of the estimated 100,000 people who came to see Trump’s speech that day, fewer than 1,000 “stormed” the Capitol. [7]  

As for whether or not these were armed protesters, there is no evidence to support the claim. Julie Kelly reports that of the 200 people arrested from that day, only 14 defendants face any sort of weapons charge. [8]  “Not one person has been charged with possessing or using a gun inside the Capitol. Further, no one has been identified as carrying a gun inside the building,” according to Kelly. So any “insurrectionists” were a tiny percentage of the 100,000 protesters, and they “stormed” the Capitol unarmed and hurt no one. 

If a mob of insurrectionists were breaching the Capitol intent on finding and killing Mike Pence, it seems odd that they just gave up after breaking a few windows. This is why it isn’t called Politilogic or Politicontext.

Only by distorting facts does Sherman manage to fact check Rep. Clyde as ‘wrong.’ With only 1,000 protesters entering the Capitol, only 14 of them facing weapons charges, and the only casualty being a pro-Trump protester and veteran Ashli Babbitt, the “armed insurrection” narrative falls apart. Rep. Clyde’s statement is totally reasonable given the facts.

Politifact’s Amy Sherman is engaged in dishonest misrepresentations meant to instill collective guilt for what is mostly minor property damage to all Trump voters and supporters.

OUR RATING = Trash Journalism, aka the Daily Beast.


1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FdQfbWKB-Y

2] https://thepoliticalinsider.com/u-s-capitol-police-gave-protesters-permission-to-protest-inside-capitol-building-video-shows/

3] https://www.revolver.news/2021/03/january-6-narrative-collapse-assault-charges-spell-problems-for-doj-fbi-in-officer-sicknick-case/

4] https://twitter.com/egsophie/status/1048634940169048064?s=10

5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHN4smAcjR4&feature=youtu.be

6]  https://tgpfactcheck.com/salon-keeps-lying-about-capitol-protest-weapons-double-standards/

7] https://amgreatness.com/2021/02/19/no-proof-january-6-was-an-armed-insurrection/

8] https://amgreatness.com/2021/02/19/no-proof-january-6-was-an-armed-insurrection/

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