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Is Lying Protected By The 1st Amendment?

"Make America Safe Again" by Nancy Ohanian

Early in 2012 the Supreme Court took up a case of Xavier Alvarez, who falsely claimed he was awarded the congressional medal of honor, violating the Stolen Valor Act. During the proceedings corporate Republican whore Anthony Kennedy (now retired) chastised the Solicator General saying, memorably, "it's a sweeping proposition to say that there's no value to falsity." Kennedy voted with the majority in striking down the law as an unconstitutional abridgment of the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech, whereupon Congress rewrote it and passed it again-- 410-3.

Trump was on Fox Last night claiming (falsely)-- well, as usual, all sorts of things, but particularly that he had personally requested 10,000 National Guard troops be deployed at the Capitol to quell the mob of insurrections he had sent there to stop the electoral vote count. He claims he alerted the department of Defense and that they passed it along to Pelosi and McConnell, who he further claims ignored his vigilance because Pelosi "didn't like the optics." Typical Trump gaslighting performance. Fox viewers will no doubt believe him to-- as did serial liar Gym Jordan. Lying is an integral part of fascism-- an ideology the Republican Party has fully embraced.

"Joseph Goebbels" by Nancy Ohanian

Early this morning a team of NY Times writers reported on how the Republicans and their media toadies made up the bullshit about Antifa and BLM activists disguised as Trumpists being responsible for sacking the Capitol and defecating all over the hallways, smearing their shit on the walls. They traced it to 2 right-wing radio hosts-- Michael D Brown and Todd Herman (who was subbing for Limbaugh), who said on the air that "It’s probably not Trump supporters who would do that. Antifa, BLM, that’s what they do. Right?"

No, not right... wrong-- and hundreds of far right Trump supporters have been arrested and admitted to their guilt, many blaming Trump for having sent them to the Capitol. But millions of Republicans believe the Antifa lie. The Times reported that "Subsequent arrests and investigations have found no evidence that people who identify with antifa, a loose collective of antifascist activists, were involved in the insurrection."

Far right politicians quickly jumped on board repeating the lies as facts-- some using it in fundraising pitches, others just to push their extremist, divisive ideological narrtive-- particularly crackpot Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rudy Giuliani, Matt Cawthorn (Nazi-NC), Gym Jordan (R-OH), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q-GA), Lauren Boebert (Q-CA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

But even as Americans watched live images of rioters wearing MAGA hats and carrying Trump flags breach the Capitol-- egged on only minutes earlier by a president who falsely denounced a rigged election and exhorted his followers to fight for justice-- history was being rewritten in real time.
Within hours, a narrative built on rumors and partisan conjecture had reached the Twitter megaphones of pro-Trump politicians. By day’s end, Laura Ingraham and Sarah Palin had shared it with millions of Fox News viewers, and Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida had stood on the ransacked House floor and claimed that many rioters “were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.”
Nearly two months after the attack, the claim that antifa was involved has been repeatedly debunked by federal authorities, but it has hardened into gospel among hard-line Trump supporters, by voters and sanctified by elected officials in the party. More than half of Trump voters in a Suffolk University/USA Today poll said that the riot was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack.” At Senate hearings last week focused on the security breakdown at the Capitol, Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, repeated the falsehood that “fake Trump protesters” fomented the violence.
For those who hoped Mr. Trump’s don’t-believe-your-eyes tactics might fade after his defeat, the mainstreaming of the antifa conspiracy is a sign that truth remains a fungible concept among his most ardent followers. Buoyed by a powerful right-wing media network that had just spent eight weeks advancing Mr. Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud, pro-Trump Republicans have succeeded in warping their voters’ realities, exhibiting sheer gall as they seek to minimize a violent riot perpetrated by their own supporters.
If anyone was responsible for desecrating the Capitol, Mr. Johnson said in a radio interview as the violence was unfolding that day, “I would really question whether that’s a true Trump supporter or a true conservative.”
In a telephone interview last week, Mr. Johnson delivered a handful of unsubstantiated or false statements that dovetail with much of the right-wing disinformation about the riot circulating online and on conservative radio and television programs. The senator said that while most of the people arrested at the Capitol were right-wing Trump supporters, he had not reached any conclusions about the political affiliations of those responsible for planning it.
He said he had “seen videos of other people claiming to be antifa” preparing in their hotel rooms.
“I don’t know if any of that’s been verified,” Mr. Johnson added.

Maybe that's because none have been. And, of course, Ron Johnson is hardly the only GOP politicians pushing these patently false narratives. Matt Gaetz (a closet case and therefore a practiced, congenital liar) from Florida's low-IQ, ultra-red Panhandle, "was a super spreader" of the lies that were being circulated. The Times also reported that Mo Brooks (R-AL), who was one of the speakers inciting the mob at Trump's pre-riot rally, "promoted the false antifa claims on national television. 'We did have some warning that there might be antifa elements masquerading as Trump supporters in advance of the attack on the Capitol,' Brooks told the Fox Business host Lou Dobbs. He amplified his baseless claim the next morning in a Twitter thread that was retweeted nearly 19,000 times. 'Evidence, much public, surfacing that many Capitol assaulters were fascist ANTIFAs, not Trump supporters,' Mr. Brooks wrote, providing no evidence. 'Time will reveal truth. Don’t rush to judgment.' In an interview last week, Mr. Brooks admitted that he had not verified his information before airing it publicly. But he insisted that several members of Congress-- whom he would not identify-- had warned him about an antifa presence in Washington, prompting him to sleep in his congressional office for two nights preceding Jan. 6. Brooks now says that the role of antifa and Black Lives Matter 'appears to be relatively minimal compared to the roles of more militant elements of other groups.' He said in the interview that he had 'very frequently cautioned that the information that we’re getting is incomplete, preliminary'-- a caveat that went unmentioned in his incendiary tweets at the time."

The role of the right-wing media has been insidious in this. The Times reported that "A review of media activity in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot reveals just how quickly the right-wing media machine, first online and then on radio and cable TV, advanced the fiction about antifa’s supposed involvement. The conspiracy gained new momentum after the Washington Times, a right-wing newspaper, published an online article shortly before 2:30 p.m. claiming that a facial recognition firm had identified antifa activists in the crowd at the Capitol. The newspaper corrected the article less than 24 hours later, after its claims were proved false-- but not before the story made an enormous impact. The article eventually amassed 360,000 likes and shares on Facebook, according to CrowdTangle, a tool owned by Facebook and used for analyzing social media... Snopes, the online fact-checking outlet, had already debunked the false antifa narrative-- but its story attracted only 306 likes and shares on Twitter at the time, an indication of how difficult it is for fact-checking efforts to gain traction over the original falsehood."

On the evening of the failed coup, the Antifa lie was repeated 8,700 times in one prime time hour-- between 4 and 5pm-- across cable television, social media and online news outlets-- statements like "Antifa openly planned to dress as Trump supporters and cause chaos today." Big name Fox hosts like Laura Ingraham have repeated it endlessly.

Thom Hartmann makes a good case for adding the Republican Party to the domestic terrorism watch list. "It’s time for American media," he wrote Sunday, "to tell the truth about what’s happening in the GOP: As the Republican Party continues to embrace Donald Trump and his white supremacist fascist ideology, that party is making the transition into a full-blown domestic-terror-supporting organization... [T]he acting Chief of the Capitol police tells us the same Republican sub-groups who planned and staged the January 6th coup attempt want another try, this time during a State of the Union address, to 'blow up the Capitol' and 'kill as many Members [of Congress] as possible.'.. The terrorism Americans so feared after 9/11 has now come to America. But it came from within, and we must have the courage to explicitly identify it, call it out, and begin honest and serious efforts to crush it."

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