Conservatives go after Capitol police officers who testified before Jan. 6 commission

Right-wing media pundits spent much of Tuesday attacking the cops who fought off a violent mob on January 6

By Jon Skolnik
Published July 27, 2021 2:51PM (EDT)
US Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, DC Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone, DC Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges and US Capitol Police Private First Class Harry Dunn, are sworn in before members of the Select Committee, as they investigate the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, during their first hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2021. - The committee will hear testimony from members of the US Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department who tried to protect the Capitol against insurrectionists on January 6, 2021. (JIM BOURG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
US Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, DC Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone, DC Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges and US Capitol Police Private First Class Harry Dunn, are sworn in before members of the Select Committee, as they investigate the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, during their first hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2021. - The committee will hear testimony from members of the US Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department who tried to protect the Capitol against insurrectionists on January 6, 2021. (JIM BOURG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Four law enforcement officers who witnessed the violence firsthand at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 are again coming under attack — this time from right-wing media figures hoping to downplay the Donald Trump-inspired insurrection. 

On Tuesday, the House Democratic-backed select committee held its first hearing on the January 6 Capitol riot.But rather than defending law enforcement – a natural posture for right-wing media when discussing state-sponsored violence – conservative pundits pounced on the officers, belittling their grievances and outright denying their accounts.

Newsmax host Greg Kelly has largely been at the helm of the online brigade, suggesting that the officers may have been "used" as "pawns" to push a left-wing agenda. 

Referring to Capitol Officer Michael Fanone, who personally described his own assault by a horde of rioters, Kelly asked his Twitter followers: "Is it possible FANONE was mistaken for ANTIFA? He often, for media appearances, has worn all Black but no insignia, police patches, rank etc."

twitter.com/gregkellyusa/status/1420030448734982147

"Did they pick THESE cops because they're so Emotional?" Kelly followed up, latering asking: "Do these guys know who shot ASHLI BABBITT? Ask them!"

Kelly is likely referring to any number of baseless conspiracy theories about who killed Ashli Babbitt, a rioter who was shot and killed for attempting to breach the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives during the insurrection.

Raheem J. Kassam, the former editor-in-chief of Breitbart News London, also took aim at what he saw as the officers being overly emotional, despite them being nearly killed. "Is there really a Capitol Hill Police Officer crying about hurty words live on national television right now?" Kassam tweeted: "Fucking whole world is laughing at this shit."

Kurt Schlichter, a senior columnist for Townhall.com, called out Officer Harry Dunn, who during his testimony called it "disheartening and disappointing" to "live in a country with people … that attack you because of the color of your skin just to hurt you. Those words are weapons."

"You lying sack," Schlichter responded.

twitter.com/KurtSchlichter/status/1420040503806939138

Other conservatives, meanwhile, fell back on downright conspiracy. 

Julie Kelly, a former political consultant and conservative writer, called Fanone a "crisis actor."

"Crisis actor Fanone just beat on the table and said it's 'disgraceful!' that any elected official denies his narrative of what happened on January 6," Kelly tweeted. "Calls it an 'insurrection.' Blasting GOP lawmakers. Now says this isn't about politics, lol. He has many tattoos."

The first law enforcement officers to provide testimony included Pfc. Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the Capitol Police, as well as Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. 

Over 550 people have been arrested in connection with the Capitol riot, though thousands of Trump supporters had stormed the Capitol.


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, AlterNet, and The New York Daily News.

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Capitol Police Capitol Riot Hearing January 6 List Right-wing Testimony