In the big scheme of things this may be a minor story, but it also is an apt case study in media perfidy.
Of the five deaths reportedly related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, that of Officer Sicknick’s is the only one widely portrayed as murder by violent protesters. We have all been exposed to overheated media reports alleging that Sicknick was bludgeoned to death by a Trump supporter with a fire extinguisher. In fact, the mental image of that allegation has been used to symbolize the murderous intent of Donald Trump himself. Now we learn the allegation is false.
Media perfidy resides in the fact that Sicknick’s bludgeoning by fire extinguisher was known to be unsubstantiated from the very start. There were no credible eyewitnesses. There was no video. There were conflicting reports. And yet media sources repeated the story. Until they no longer could.
The other four deaths that day were of protesters, all but one of them a death of geriatric origin. That’s a truer symbol of the Capitol protest overall than the violence of the riot.