OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
For months the media has accused President Donald Trump of staging a photo op by having demonstrators in D.C.’s Lafayette Park pepper-sprayed.
The media accused Trump of orchestrating the spraying of the demonstrators so that he could go to a church nearby and pose with a Bible, but a new Inspector’s report has revealed the truth about that day and Trump is taking a victory lap.
“When federal police officers violently cleared protesters from the city’s Lafayette Park in June 2020, they did it so a contractor could install fencing — not to let President Donald Trump hold a photo opportunity at a nearby church, an investigation by the Interior Department’s inspector general has found,” NBC reported.
“That finding, published Wednesday, is likely to surprise many critics of Trump, who have long asserted that the president or his attorney general ordered the operation to pave the way for an act of political theater,” it said. “That is also the central allegation of a federal lawsuit by Black Lives Matter against the Justice Department.”
“The report found no evidence of that, but did find that Attorney General William Barr urged officials to speed up the clearing process once Trump had decided to walk through the area that evening,” it said.
In an email to supporters, Trump celebrated the Department of the Interior Inspector General’s report.
“Thank you to the Department of the Interior Inspector General for Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!” he said.
“As we have said all along, and it was backed up in today’s highly detailed and professionally written report, our fine Park Police made the decision to clear the park to allow a contractor to safely install antiscale fencing to protect from Antifa rioters, radical BLM protestors, and other violent demonstrators who are causing chaos and death to our cities,” he said. “In this instance, they tried burning down the church the day before the clearing.”
“Fortunately, we were there to stop the fire from spreading beyond the basement – and it was a great honor and privilege to do so,” he said. “Again, thank you to the Inspector General!”
But let’s take a look at how the media, who will likely not be “fact-checked” or have their distribution limited by big tech, reported the incident in June 2020.
“Peaceful Protesters Tear-Gassed To Clear Way For Trump Church Photo-Op,” an NPR headline read
“The plaza between St. John’s Church and Lafayette Park was full of people nonviolently protesting police brutality late Monday afternoon when U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops, with the use of tear gas, suddenly started pushing them away for no apparent reason. And then it became clear,” the story said.
“President Trump wanted to walk from the White House through the park to the Episcopal church. Camera crews scrambled to keep up with him as he strode through the park, followed by his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, along with Attorney General William Barr and other administration officials,’ it said.
“How Trump cleared the park around the White House for a church photo op,” a headline from The Hill read.
“Protestors gassed Monday night on Trump’s orders – Vox,” a Vox headline said.
“Protesters cleared by tear gas and rubber bullets for Trump photo op,” Reuters said.
Bloomberg News shrieked “Trump, Barr Violated Free Speech in Clearing Lafayette Square.”
“Did President Donald Trump’s administration violate the First Amendment on June 1 when various police and other security forces tear-gassed peaceful demonstrators in Lafayette Square park so the president could walk to St. John’s Church for a photo op? That is the central question in a lawsuit brought over the weekend by the Washington, D.C. chapter of Black Lives Matter and a number of individual protesters,” the story read.
“The answer is almost certainly yes. And the lawsuit is extremely important, not because the plaintiffs will necessarily prevail, but because it is the best and maybe only way to prevent such a blatant constitutional violation from happening again just steps from the White House,” it said.
And The New York Times headline said, “How Trump’s Idea for a Photo Op Led to Havoc in a Park.”
“When the history of the Trump presidency is written, the clash at Lafayette Square may be remembered as one of its defining moments,” it said.
None of those stories, as of this writing, have been fact-checked or have corrections in them. That appears to be something reserved for conservative news organizations.