Legacy media pushed a story claiming that police cleared peaceful protesters from the area near Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., during a demonstration in order to let then-President Donald Trump pose for a photo-op. That story has been definitively proven false.
The Park Police cleared Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington, D.C., from the area between St. John’s Church and Lafayette Park in June 2020. Police used flash-bangs and other non-lethal crowd-control munitions to clear the area. However, a Wednesday report from Interior Department inspector general Mark Greenblatt determined that the Park Police had planned to clear the area before anyone knew Trump’s plans to walk over and that Trump’s presence had nothing to do with the Park Police’s decision to clear the area. (RELATED: Trump Thanks Inspector General For ‘Exonerating’ Him Over Lafayette Park)
Police had planned to clear the area in advance in order to install extra fencing after the riots that took place May 30 and 31, according to the report. Tear gas was used by Washington, D.C., police, but reportedly not by Park Police.
Still, establishment coverage ran with the narrative that the park had been cleared for a photoshoot. In a June 1 segment, CNN reported that “peaceful protesters” near the White House were “gassed” and “shot with rubber bullets” so that Trump could have a “church photo-op.”
That Park Police violently cleared Lafayette Park at Trump’s behest was treated as unquestioned truth by corporate media.
Today it was revealed by the independent IG Report to be an utter falsehood. Watch how readily and easily they spread lies. From CNN on June 1: pic.twitter.com/2CG7k3GpZN
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 9, 2021
NPR also claimed that the park was cleared so that Trump could take a photo. The outlet ran an article the morning of June 2, 2020, titled: “Peaceful Protesters Tear Gassed To Clear Way For Trump Church Visit.”
The New York Times cited an “official familiar with the events” who said the president’s advisors “hatched a plan” to have him visit the church.
Protesters “were hit with flash-bang explosions and doused with tear gas,” the Times reported. “It was because the president, who spent part of the weekend in a secure bunker as protests roiled, wanted to have his picture taken holding a Bible at a battered church just beyond the gates.” (RELATED: Ben Sasse Goes After Trump For ‘Photo Op’ Outside St. John’s Church — Says He Held Bible As ‘Political Prop’)
“At the time, none of the protesters or nearby journalists knew the reason for clearing the street,” NBC News said of the incident. “But the purpose became clear as soon as Trump finished his speech in the Rose Garden.”
Politico declared that Trump had faced “condemnation for clearing protesters.”
“President Donald Trump faced withering criticism in the hours after spurring a violent incursion against apparently peaceful protesters for the purposes of staging a political photo opportunity,” the outlet wrote.
On Good Morning America, host George Stephanopoulos repeated the false claim that police cleared the area for Trump.
Stephanopoulos said that “the administration asked police to clear peaceful protesters from the park across the White House so the president could stage a photo-op.”
Despite the claims being proven false, some in the media doubled down. MSNBC host Joy Reid refused to admit that the media got the story wrong.
“So we’ve now reached the ‘whitewash police history’ phase of our slow metamorphosis into Putinite Russia,” she said on Twitter. “Perfect.”