Washington’s top medical examiner debunked a once-widespread media narrative on Monday by announcing U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes the day after he confronted Jan. 6 Capitol rioters.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald reminded readers that The New York Times “published an emotionally gut-wrenching but complete fiction that never had any evidence” by initially reporting, as Greenwald put it, that Sicknick’s “skull was savagely bashed in with a fire extinguisher by a pro-Trump mob until he died.”
The Times reported on Jan. 8 that Sicknick died from injuries sustained while physically engaging with pro-Trump rioters and cited two anonymous law enforcement officials who claimed he was “struck with a fire extinguisher” during the insurrection. House impeachment managers used the Times article as evidence in their impeachment pre-trial memo for former President Donald Trump.
Weeks later, the Times quietly updated its story to note new information “questions the initial cause of his death provided by officials close to the Capitol Police,” but the revision came weeks after the inaccurate information was initially published.
A separate Times story on Jan. 9 reported Sicknick died “from brain injuries he sustained after Trump loyalists who overtook the complex struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher,” but that version had not been corrected or updated as of Tuesday morning. A Jan. 11 piece still describes Sicknick as “the U.S. Capitol Police officer who died after being hit in the head by a rioter wielding a fire extinguisher.”
The chief medical examiner, Francisco Diaz, ruled on Monday that Sicknick, 42, died from “acute brainstem and cerebellar infarcts due to acute basilar artery thrombosis.” Diaz said the Jan. 6 riot “played a role in his condition,” but gave no indication he was struck by a fire extinguisher.
“As I detailed over and over when examining this story, there were so many reasons to doubt this storyline from the start. Nobody on the record claimed it happened. The autopsy found no blunt trauma to the head. Sicknick’s own family kept urging the press to stop spreading this story because he called them the night of January 6 and told them he was fine — obviously inconsistent with the media’s claim that he died by having his skull bashed,” Greenwald wrote.
While Sicknick’s death was tragic regardless of its cause, Greenwald felt the media wanted to use it to push a narrative. He wrote the “gruesome story of Sicknick’s ‘murder’ was too valuable to allow any questioning” or hesitation when it was initially reported.
“It was weaponized over and over to depict the pro-Trump mob not as just violent but barbaric and murderous,” he wrote. “So crucial was this fairy tale about Sicknick that it made its way into the official record of President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.”
Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway blasted the Times for the inaccurate reporting weeks before the medical examiner issued his official report.
“They did it for political purposes, our media unfortunately are so corrupt that they’re willing to put forth a false story, a knowingly false story in some cases, and use it for political gain,” Hemmingway said on “Fox News Primetime.”
“They think they can quietly backtrack when the reality is too difficult for them to ignore,” she continued. “They were completely wrong in what they reported.”
Author: Brian Flood