NYT Retracts Story First Published on Jan. 8 That Capitol Hill Police Officer Was Killed by a Fire Extinguisher Thrown by Protesters

Politics Uncategorized USA World

Wow, what coincidental timing.

The story claiming that a police officer was murdered by Trump supporters during the Capitol Hill protest on January 6 is, for all practical purposes, retracted by the NYT the day after Pres. Trump is acquitted on the impeachment charge of having instigated those protests — which were declared by Democrats and the media an “insurrection” against the government.

If you search for the original NYT story today, you find the following “Note” now at the top:

UPDATE: New information has emerged regarding the death of the Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick that questions the initial cause of his death provided by officials close to the Capitol Police.

Julie Strong at American Greatness has been aggressively pursuing this story for weeks, and two days ago she published a column that noted efforts by media outlets — including the NYT — to slowly back away from narrative created by the early reporting done by the NYT and acknowledging that the cause of Sicknick’s death was still undetermined.  (We’ve also reported on CNN’s about-face here.)  The narrative built around that early reporting was that he was struck by a demonstrator wielding a fire extinguisher — a narrative advanced by both liberal and conservative media outlets in their effort to railroad Donald Trump over the past 5 weeks. That narrative has now unraveled because there simply is no evidence to support the claim that the fire extinguisher episode actually happened.

Today, the “UPDATE” appears atop the story for the first time. Here is the way the story today reports on Officer Sicknick’s death:

The circumstances surrounding Mr. Sicknick’s death were not immediately clear, and the Capitol Police said only that he had “passed away due to injuries sustained while on duty.”

But now consider what reporters and editors at the NYT — with 72 hours to get their facts straight — made the editorial judgment to run as factual information on January 9:

“[P]ro-Trump rioters attacked that citadel of democracy, overpowered Mr. Sicknick, 42, and struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials.  With a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. He died on Thursday evening.”

This reporting brings to my mind a famous line uttered by Paul Newman’s character in the movie Absence of Malice.  He says to Sally Field’s character, a reporter who had written a scandalous article about him:

“You don’t write the truth. You write what people say. What you overhear, you eavesdrop. You don’t come across truth that easy.

But the NYT’s false narrative on how Officer Sicknick died was adopted by the national media, and it was used to brand Pres. Trump as a “murderer” in blaming him for the protests turning violent.  Strong points out in her story that both liberal and conservative commentators advanced the idea that Sicknick’s death should be a centerpiece in the House Manager’s presentation of their case during the Senate trial which concluded yesterday.

I’m a bit short in the technical capability department to be able to find on the web the prior versions of the NYT story in order to point out other instances where the text in the current story has been “massaged” in a manner to make it more consistent with their currently expressed view that the circumstances and cause of Sicknick’s death remain unresolved.  But in reading through the story as it appears on the NYT website right now, the following passages strike me as inconsistent with the original story of Sicknick’s death as published by the Times on January 8.

A United States Capitol Police officer died on Thursday night from injuries sustained “while physically engaging” with pro-Trump rioters who descended on the U.S. Capitol the day before

“Physically engaging” is quite a distance removed from having been “overpowered” and “struck [him] in the head with a fire extinguisher.”

Law enforcement officials initially said Mr. Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher, but weeks later, police sources and investigators were at odds over whether he was hit. Medical experts have said he did not die of blunt force trauma, according to one law enforcement official.

“He returned to his division office and collapsed,” the Capitol Police said in the statement. “He was taken to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.”

I’m quite confident based on my own experiences that if Officer Sicknick had been rushed to the hospital with a “bloody gash in his head”, the medical experts would have been able to agree on whether he was hit in the head with some object.”

It was unclear where Mr. Sicknick’s encounter with the rioters took place, but photos and a video posted by a local reporter during the night of chaos showed a man spraying a fire extinguisher outside the Senate chamber, with a small number of police officers overlooking the area on a nearby stairway.

A video of a man spraying a fire extinguisher while a small number of police officers look on, and a story that a police officer was getting bludgeoned on the head by a protester wielding a fire extinguisher, have only two facts in common — the presence of a fire extinguisher and the presence of a police officer.  The factual anecdote is otherwise useless “reporting” of irrelevant facts — except to advance the narrative that a police officer was hit by a fire extinguisher.

On January 9, the NYT ran a follow-up story on Officer Sicknick’s death.  That story now has the same “UPDATE” posted at the top.  In the follow-up story the NYT advanced the “Trump supporters murdered police officer” narrative with the following “facts”:

The editorial decision-making at the Times is idiotic. They have a story of significant national interest with a paragraph originally written on January 9 when the story first appeared that is factually inaccurate.  But other parts of the story have now been rewritten, and additional information inserted over the past 5 weeks that undermine the original facts as reported.  Rather than write a new story, and retract and remove the factually inaccurate story, they have a series of paragraphs in the piece now that make it a farcical piece of pseudo-journalism.

Consider the following:

Then on Wednesday, pro-Trump rioters attacked that citadel of democracy and overpowered Mr. Sicknick, 42, according to two law enforcement officials. With a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. He died on Thursday evening. [Note: omitted from this version are the words “and struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher” which appeared in the original article.]

Law enforcement officials initially said Mr. Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher, but weeks later, police sources and investigators were at odds over whether he was hit. Medical experts have said he did not die of blunt force trauma, according to one law enforcement official.

Instead, investigators increasingly believe that a factor may have been an irritant such as mace or bear spray that was sprayed in the face of Mr. Sicknick, the law enforcement official said. The Capitol Police said in a statement that Officer Sicknick died from injuries sustained “while physically engaging with protesters.”

In all, five have died since the riot began, though three of them were not killed by hostile action. But the beating of an officer brought waves of condolences from lawmakers in both parties still reeling from the event. It also exposed one of the many contradictions of the Trump presidency in his final weeks in the Oval Office. A president who campaigned as a “law and order” candidate, boasting about his relationships with police unions and demonizing those protesting racist policing, incited a riot that led to the death of a member of the law enforcement community.

Was Officer Sicknick beaten or wasn’t he?  Three individuals died from medical emergencies and one person was shot and killed by Capitol Hill Police.  So Officer Sicknick was the other person “killed by hostile action.”

But the truth is that the NYT no longer has any interest in the truth of what actually happened to Officer Sicknick.  The story can no longer be wielded as a political weapon against Donald Trump, and that was the entire purpose of the exercise from the beginning.

This news publication supports the constitution of the United States. As well as our President Donald J Trump