Newsweek and CNN accuse Trump of attacking 'protesters'

Voters must similarly rely on information provided by the Fourth Estate to make informed decisions on Election Day.  A strong argument can be made that fake news and distorted news that defrauds citizens is ethically identical to election fraud.  This is, in turn, a strong argument for holding media outlets to the same ethical standards as the U.S. Military Academy's Honor Code and disregarding sources that don't measure up.

The U.S. Military Academy's Honor Code states, "Cadets violate the Honor Code by lying if they deliberately deceive another by stating an untruth or by any direct form of communication to include the telling of a partial truth and the vague or ambiguous use of information or language with the intent to deceive or mislead" (emphasis is mine).  Lying is cause for expulsion because military professionals must rely on the accuracy of information with which they are provided.

I once regarded Newsweek and CNN as mainstream news sources.  Their recent actions have lost my trust.

Newsweek: Police Use "Chemical Agents" on "Protesters"

Newsweek reported, "Virginia Police Use Chemical Agents on Protesters after City Dump Truck Set on Fire," which reinforces Media Bias/Fact Check's assessment that Newsweek is not only left-biased, but gets a rating of "Mixed for factual reporting due to multiple failed fact checks by IFCN fact-checkers."

The sensationalistic headline conveys the impression of First World War Germans in gas masks and spiked helmets, along with Dr. Poison from the Wonder Woman movie, spraying peaceful demonstrators with chemical weapons, although it is at least honest enough to stipulate that a city dump truck was set on fire.  Only when we read the body of the article do we find the details.  The "chemical agents" — nonlethal tear gas, of course — were used after one or more arsonists (not "protesters") set the truck on fire and, in addition, rioters committed other violent felonies.

The article also stipulates, "Virginia State Police said protesters tore down police tape and pushed forward toward the department's headquarters with lasers and firecrackers," thus again confusing protesters who are exercising a constitutional right with rioters who are attacking law enforcement officers with deadly weapons.  The lasers in question are not the Class 2 red laser pointers that can be purchased in office supply stores; they are far more powerful lasers that can cause rapid and permanent eye injury.  Three federal law enforcement officers were blinded (potentially permanently) with these weapons in Portland.

I cannot give legal advice, but aggravated (felony) assault — i.e., assault capable of causing death or permanent disability — usually justifies a lethal response.  I would have no problem as a juror with a cop who used his sidearm, as opposed to less than lethal force, on a laser-armed assailant.  Firecrackers also can cause serious injury or even death depending on their size.  Even M-80 firecrackers, which contain only 3 grams (a little more than a tenth of an ounce) of explosives, are illegal for recreational use, much less as weapons.

The content of the Newsweek article is therefore honest and accurate, but the headline — which is often all that people read — is sensationalistic.  Depiction of violent criminals as "protesters" is inherently dishonest because it implies that police are committing civil rights violations under color of law, a felony if weapons are involved, rather than defending themselves and others from arson and felony assault.  Accurate reporting, and this applies to conservative as well as liberal sources, demands that we limit the words "protesters" and "demonstrators" to law-abiding people who are exercising a constitutional right and depict rioters, looters, vandals, and arsonists in exactly those words as opposed to "protesters."  The Department of Homeland Security, by the way, uses the catch-all phrase "violent anarchists" for these criminals, and Newsweek and other media sources, as well as police departments, need to follow this example.

CNN Says Trump Calls Protesters "Terrorists"

I once believed CNN to be a trustworthy, although left-leaning, source.  Media Bias/Fact Check says, however, "[S]traight news reporting falls left-center through bias by omission," and "bias by omission" seems to constitute "lying" under USMA Honor Code standards because it withholds information the reader needs to make a genuinely informed decision.  To put this in perspective, "bias by omission" helped draw the United States into the First World War at a cost of 115,000 lives when newspapers reported accurately that a German submarine sank the passenger ship Lusitania but omitted the fact that the Lusitania was carrying munitions that made her a legitimate target.  The news industry contains as many Jonah Jamesons and his real-life counterparts William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer (the Yellow Press) as it does Edward Murrows.

CNN reported recently, "Trump is calling protesters who disagree with him terrorists.  That puts him in the company of the world's autocrats" and elaborates, "[H]e is willing to employ the repressive tactics used by autocrats to vilify those who challenge them."  The article goes on to compare the Trump administration to repressive regimes around the world.

My perception is not that Trump is calling protesters terrorists, but rather that CNN is calling violent criminals, if not actual terrorists, protesters. Protesters hold up signs, which they have a right to do regardless of whether I or anybody else agree with what the signs say. Rioters, vandals, arsonists, and looters (or collectively "violent anarchists") violate the rights of others by setting fires, throwing projectiles at law enforcement officers, destroying property, blocking highways, threatening and even shooting at motorists, and using high-power lasers to disable law enforcement professionals for life and also menace aircraft (a Federal felony). There is indeed a point at which this kind of behavior rises to domestic terrorism and should be treated as such.

Read the Insurrection Act Before You Blame Trump

Let us make no mistake, by the way, as to why Trump is sending his so-called "storm troopers" to the cities in question. Their almost universally Democratic mayors and governors have abdicated their duty to protect their citizens from violence and property damage by tying the hands of their police and failing to deploy the National Guard. Andrew Cuomo could, for example, deploy the New York National Guard to New York City to protect the rights of the law-abiding people there; he has not done so. Whether it's racist local governments that have their police stand down while the Ku Klux Klan trashes Black-owned businesses, or "woke" leftist ones that have police stand down while Black Lives Matter trashes everybody's business (including those owned by Black people), Section 252 of the Insurrection Act not only permits, but by implication requires as a duty, the President to deploy Federal forces to restore order.

Civis Americanus is the pen name of a contributor who remembers the lessons of history and wants to ensure that our country never needs to learn those lessons again the hard way. He or she is remaining anonymous due to the likely prospect of being subjected to "cancel culture" for exposing the Big Lie behind Black Lives Matter.

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