Media Memoryholes
the Sicknick Story

During his Senate testimony, FBI Director Christopher Wray publicly admitted his agency does not know how Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died. “We’re not at a point where we can disclose or confirm the cause of death,” Wray, clearly uncomfortable, told Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday morning.

Unfortunately, no one on the Senate Judiciary Committee confronted Wray with the now-retracted story that Officer Sicknick was murdered by Trump supporters using a fire extinguisher. Republicans missed a golden opportunity not just to expose the New York Times’ primary role in seeding the bogus account but also to confront their Democratic colleagues who voted to convict Donald Trump partially based on the notion his comments on January 6 led to the death of a police officer. “The insurrectionists killed a Capitol Police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher,” according to the House Democrats’ impeachment memo.

But suddenly, the news media have lost all interest in what happened to Sicknick. After nonstop coverage—including somber videos of the police procession in his honor and a memorial in the Capitol Rotunda, attended by Joe Biden, just days before the impeachment trial began in February—major news organizations have memoryholed the initial account about the fire extinguisher; some apparently have forgotten about Sicknick altogether.

The New York Times, the paper responsible for launching the lie, didn’t bother to mention Sicknick in its coverage of Wray’s testimony—the paper of record, however, did publish a lengthy piece Monday detailing how “Pro-Trump Forces Pushed a Lie About Antifa at the Capitol Riot.” Take a moment and savor the irony.

The only mention of Sicknick in the Washington Post is from an Associated Press article. None of the paper’s original reporting on Wray’s testimony, a total of 13 articles so far, include the late officer’s name. The Post ran 82 articles, editorials, and op-eds since January 7 about Sicknick but, of course, his political usefulness is now over. MSNBC also couldn’t be bothered to report Wray’s disclosure about Officer Sicknick.

CNN buried the exchange between Grassley and Wray in its wrap-up of the FBI director’s testimony with just a five-sentence summary. Nothing about a fire extinguisher. Ditto for the Wall Street Journal, which still has not corrected a January 8 article claiming Sicknick was “struck in the head with a fire extinguisher,” and seems eager to help promote another anonymously-sourced version of Sicknick’s untimely death. “FBI agents have video that appears to show an assailant spraying Mr. Sicknick with a chemical irritant during the riot, and are working to identify possible suspects who may have attacked him, according to people familiar with the matter,” the Journal reported Tuesday afternoon.

It’s like they never learn.

Now that the media and lawmakers on both sides achieved their common goal of weaponizing Sicknick’s death against the president and his supporters, they’ve crudely abandoned his cause. It’s very likely the public never will get the truth, as if those who exploited his death ever really cared.

The D.C. Medical Examiner’s Office refuses to release Sicknick’s autopsy report even though he died two months ago and was cremated. No matter—everyone has moved on with the exception of his grieving family, friends, and colleagues who now surely realize their loved one was used in the most despicable way imaginable by the most despicable people in power.


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