For more than a year, it has been consecrated media fact that former President Donald Trump and his White House, on June 1 of last year, directed the U.S. Park Police to use tear gas against peaceful Lafayette Park protesters, all to enable a Trump photo-op in front of St. John's Church. That this happened was never presented as a possibility or likelihood but as indisputable truth. And it provoked weeks of unmitigated media outrage, presented as one of the most egregious assaults on the democratic order in decades.
This tale was so pervasive in the media landscape that it would be impossible for any one article to compile all the examples. "Peaceful Protesters Tear-Gassed To Clear Way For Trump Church Photo-Op," read the NPR headline on June 1. The New York Times ran with: "Protesters Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Could Pose at Church." CNN devoted multiple segments to venting indignation while the on-screen graphic declared: "Peaceful Protesters Near White House Tear-Gassed, Shot With Rubber Bullets So Trump Can Have Church Photo Op."
ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos "reported" that "the administration asked police to clear peaceful protesters from the park across the White House so that the President could stage a photo op." The Intercept published an article stating that "federal police used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear protesters from Lafayette Square in front of the White House," all to feature a video where the first interviewee said: "to me, the way our military and police have behaved toward the protesters at the instruction of President Trump has almost been Nazi-like."Nazi-like. This was repeated by virtually every major corporate outlet:
This was the scene outside of the White House on Monday as police used tear gas and flash grenades to clear out peaceful protesters so President Trump could visit the nearby St. John's Church, where there was a parish house basement fire Sunday night https://t.co/nFrCqYpqZR pic.twitter.com/DVP11iiVIh— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 2, 2020