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The Capitol Hill riot’s long shadow is visible in day-by-day news coverage

A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Despite the best attempts of some 1/6 denialists and apologists, the aftermath of the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol is still with us every day. Sometimes it deserves to be a lead headline while more often it’s a little lower down on the homepage, but the stories continue to stretch outward like tentacles.

“The world looks to us for the rule of law and order and democracy. And that was shattered, I think, on that day,” Michael Sherwin, the former acting DC US attorney, said on Sunday’s “60 Minutes” broadcast on CBS.

“And we have to build ourselves up again,” Sherwin said. “The only way to build ourselves up again is the equal application of the law, to show the rule of law is gonna treat these people fairly under the law.”

There was lots of news in Scott Pelley’s exclusive interview with Sherwin, who is leaving his DOJ post leading the DC prosecutors’ office and its sprawling investigation into the riot. His successor is acting US Attorney for DC Channing Phillips. CNN’s Katelyn Polantz has the top takeaways from the interview here, including Sherwin’s confirmation that investigators are looking at President Trump’s role.

>> Still, Sherwin said, there is more to piece together about the January 6 puzzle. When Pelley asked if there was a “premeditated plan” to breach the Capitol, Sherwin said “that’s what we’re trying to determine right now.”

New reporting nearly every day

— The NYT released a harrowing video on Sunday with a you-are-there quality. The video combines DC police radio traffic with footage from the scene “to show in real time how officers tried and failed to stop the attack…”

— The lead story on Sunday evening, by Bart Jansen: “Charges against police officers, public safety workers and military veterans in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol have reignited concerns among lawmakers and law enforcement officials about violent extremists infiltrating government agencies…”

— Just the other day a Florida man who was “known to online sleuths as #FloridaFlagJacket” was arrested for his role in the riot “following a HuffPost investigation revealing his identity…”

“Spring thaw” in DC

Outer perimeter fencing at the Capitol was removed over the weekend. CNN congressional reporter Daniella Diaz said, “it’s surreal to see some normalcy return at the Capitol after experiencing the fencing and restrictions for the last few months.” WH producer DJ Judd likened it to a “spring thaw…”

→ At the same time, Lisa Mascaro’s story for the AP conveys how the riot fallout and Covid restrictions have resulted in a “toxic mood on Capitol Hill…”

The “Schneider standard”

The aforementioned AP story hit on the lack of trust between Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Last weekend, Rep. Brad Schneider told NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell that he had a basic requirement before working with any Republicans: “I need an affirmative statement that Joe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States and the 2020 election was an honest and fair election.”

Schneider said it’s about showing a “commitment to the truth.” But some of his GOP counterparts are noncommittal — as CNN’s Pamela Brown demonstrated during an interview with Rep. Michael Burgess. After that interview, Schneider’s comms director Matt Fried asserted that “the Schneider Standard should be used any time a Republican who questions the election is given TV time.” For the congressman, Fried told me via email, “it’s about having a credible partner. But for the media, it’s both about accountability and credibility to their own viewers.”

The GOP’s divide, the media’s dilemma

Revisionism about both the election and the riot are part of the post-Trump war on truth. Over the weekend the NYT’s Trip Gabriel and Reid J. Epstein pointed out that Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, is now the GOP’s “foremost amplifier of conspiracy theories and disinfo” since Trump is largely offline. Johnson keeps making false claims to downplay the attack and reporters keep pointing out that he’s full of it.

Sunday on “Meet the Press,” Sen. Roy Blunt rejected Johnson’s efforts, saying “We don’t need to try and explain away or come up with alternative versions. We all saw what happened.” I respect what Blunt said, but I think the reality is more complicated. Everyone saw what happened, but some people have buried it deep down the memory hole and made excuses for the crimes, and that’s both a GOP divide and a media dilemma…

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