Debunking The Photo Op Myth: Inspector General Investigation Refutes Media Account On The Clearing Of Lafayette Park

For over a year, there has been one fact that has been repeated in literally thousands of news stories: former Attorney General Bill Barr ordered the clearing of Lafayette Park on June 1, 2020 to allow former President Donald Trump to hold his controversial photo op in front of St. John’s Church.  From the outset, there was ample reason to question the claim echoed across media outlets. As I noted in my testimony to Congress on the protest that month, the operation was clearly a response to days of violent and destructive protests.  Now the Inspector General has completed its investigation and the report debunks the conspiracy theory that the Lafayette Square area was cleared to make way for the Trump photo op.

While many today still claim that the protests were “entirely peaceful” and there was no “attack on the White House,” that claim is demonstrably false. It is only plausible if one looks at the level of violence at the start of the clearing operation as opposed to the prior 48 hours.  There was in fact an exceptionally high number of officers were injured during the protests. In addition to a reported 150 officers were injured (including at least 49 Park Police officers around the White House), protesters caused extensive property damage including the torching of a historic structure and the attempted arson of St. John’s.  The threat was so great that Trump had to be moved into the bunker because the Secret Service feared a breach of security around the White House.

The expansion of the perimeter with the fencing was a logical and necessary move. It is the same decision reached (and indeed the same fencing) by Congress when it responded to January 6 riot this year. Absent such fencing, an extremely dangerous situation could have arisen where a major breach of the White House perimeter would have triggered the use of lethal force with the potential of a major loss of life.

Ample evidence emerged in the days after the protests to reinforce the account of Barr and others that the plan to clear the park area was proposed days before any plan for a photo op. There was never any evidence that Barr knew of the photo op plan before approving the operation.  Nevertheless, media and legal experts continued to claim as a fact that this was all done for the photo op.  University of Texas professor and CNN contributor Steve Vladeck continued to claim that Barr ordered federal officers “to forcibly clear protestors in Lafayette Park to achieve a photo op for Trump.” In a still uncorrected segment still up on the Internet, NPR declares “Peaceful Protesters Tear-Gassed To Clear Way For Trump Church Photo-Op.”

Democratic leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeated the conspiracy theory about the photo op and the Washington Post ran an article by Philip Bump titled “Attorney General Bill Barr’s Dishonest Defense of Clearing of Lafayette Square.” Not only did the Post refer to the “debunked claim” that no tear gas was used by the federal government, but goes on to state incredibly:

“It is the job of the media to tell the truth. The truth is that Barr’s arguments about the events of last Monday collapse under scrutiny and that his flat assertion that there was no link between clearing the square and Trump’s photo op should be treated with the same skepticism that his claims about the use of tear gas earns.”

It turns out that both assertions were true.

The Inspector General of the Department of Interior has conducted an investigation over the last year and the Biden Administration just released the findings. The IG states unequivocally that there is no evidence to support the allegation that Barr or others ordered the clearing for the photo op. The report further concludes that “the USPP had the authority and discretion to clear Lafayette Park and the surrounding areas on June 1.” It further “the USPP cleared the park to allow the contractor to safely install the antiscale fencing in response to destruction of property and injury to officers occurring on May 30 and 31.” It was not done “to allow the President to survey the damage and walk to St. John’s Church.”

That is not the only contraction of the almost universal media accounts. The federal government has long denied using “tear gas” in its operation as opposed to pepper balls in the clearing operation on June 6th. The difference has little real significance either legally or practically. However, critics latched on the denial to show that Barr and others were lying. The IG found that “the USPP incident commander did not authorize CS gas for this operation. Expecting that CS gas would not be used, most USPP officers did not wear gas masks.”

The IG found no evidence of approval or use of tear gas by the federal operation. However, it confirmed “and the MPD confirmed, that the MPD used CS gas on 17th Street on June 1. As discussed above, the MPD was not a part of nor under the control or direction of the USPP’s and the Secret Service’s unified command structure.”

In fact, last week, the District admitted that it used tear gas about a block away in its enforcement of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s curfew. The admission was itself breathtaking since the media lionized Bowser for her stance against the operation and specifically the use of tear gas. For a year, the District knew that it used the tear gas and said nothing to the public as Bowser basked in the media glow – and Barr was attacked as a liar.

Now, on the anniversary of the operation, the Bowser Administration is in court asking for the lawsuit by Black Lives Matter be dismissed. Her attorneys are arguing that the use of tear gas was entirely appropriate and that the clearing of the area was reasonable. This is the same mayor who received national acclaim for painting “Black Lives Matter” on the street next to the park and renaming it “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”

The Biden Administration is also joining in the effort to dismiss the BLM case. It told the court “Presidential security is a paramount government interest that weighs heavily in the Fourth Amendment balance.” The DOJ’s counsel, John Martin, added that “federal officers do not violate First Amendment rights by moving protesters a few blocks, even if the protesters are predominantly peaceful.”

The media has largely ignored the admission of the District and the change of the position on the legitimacy of the law enforcement actions. Moreover, none of the media outlets have corrected their prior stories reporting that Barr ordered the clearing to allow for the photo op, let alone apologize to Barr.

In today’s echo journalism, it is doubtful that any of this will matter. The myth of the photo op fueled the anger and fed the ratings. It is doubtful that these same media and legal experts will now acknowledge that they fostered a conspiracy theory without any concrete support.

The IG Report may have more to say about our media culture than the clearing operation itself. As with the effective media blackout on the Hunter Biden story and the Chinese lab leak theory before the election, the media actively shaped the news to fit a narrative. It worked. Biden was elected and the public still believes these false accounts. For many Democrats, Bill Barr will remain the man who violently crushed protesters for a photo op. As the old media saying goes, it was (and remains) “a fact too good to check.”

113 thoughts on “Debunking The Photo Op Myth: Inspector General Investigation Refutes Media Account On The Clearing Of Lafayette Park”

  1. Throughout the article, Turley continues to use the term “photo-op” with the implication that the president’s sole purpose in visiting the church, which sits right across from the White House, was for a a photo-op. In reality, he wanted to see the damage for himself. Now, every time a president ventures outside of the White House, it presents a photo opportunity for photographers but that doesn’t mean it was conducted solely for that purpose. Me thinks Democrat Turley is still not willing to give up his partisanship.

    1. He brought someone else’s bible with him to hold as he posed for photos. It was a photo op.

  2. The Fake News will continue to repeat the now debunked lies and hoaxes.

    The Fake News will continue to ‘let stand’ all of Joe Biden’s lying about the debunked lies he continues to tell.

    The Fake News will continue to let Kamala Harris repeat debunked lies without correction, just as they do for Biden.

    The Fake News will let Pelosi, Schumer, and all the rest of the liars in Congress repeat debunked lies without correction.

    The White House ‘correspondents’ working for the Fake News media will continue pushing out fake news, lies, flattering PR pieces –also known as propaganda –and continue carrying water for the Biden administration, acting as nothing but the sycophantic propagandists they are.

    This is the Fake News that day in and day out knowingly lies to its dwindling audience –which truly makes them the Enemy of the People. Just as Trump said they are.

    Trump was right again.

  3. Makes ZERO difference. The only thing the liberal media cares about is their anti-conservative agenda.. and nothing will stand in their way. Just above every media-driven, media-manufactured conspiracy theory since Trump talk office has been debunked, yet many, probably most, are still reported as fact day in and day out. Truth literally doesn’t matter anymore to the media, nor the choir they preach to, it simply does not matter.

  4. Fm AG Bill Barr, were the Death & Injury to Millions of people more then Nazi Dr Josef Megele by people like Dr Fauci, Bill Gates, etc., worth it to you?


    Dr. Fauci in 2012 – The Benefits of Gain-of-Function Research Outweighed the Costs
    By Joe Hoft
    Published June 9, 2021 at 4:00pm


    And where does the Buck Stop Fm Prez Trump? Pro Tip: Nuremberg 2 might be messy in Warp Speed time, you might best fire all that screwed us citizens over last time. The VAERS report will be getting timely reports before long we hope. has some limited info.

  5. Yet another reason to turn off network TV and unsubscribe from traditional newspapers. When will they decide to tell the whole truth?

  6. Without writing multiple dozens books Trump really screwed up hiring/not firing/attacking people like Deep State Fm AG Bill Barr, Durham, Frank Figliuzzi 33 to 50% of the rest.

    IE: I haven’t sorted these articles for accuracy but I know there are creditable ones available in the relevant time period. Confirmation info is about to be released on multiple topics on Burr’s time.

    ** Report: Bill Barr Told President Trump That Stolen …
    [Search domain]
    While that claim will be questioned for generations to come, according to The Hill, former U.S. Attorney General William Barr apparently was one of the first people in Trump’s orbit to tell the president that he believed the claims that the election was “stolen” were “bulls-t,” according to reports from others present in the room …**

    KT McFarland Explains Why the Intelligence Report on the …
    [Search domain]
    Dec 17, 2020Yesterday the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced a report about foreign interference in the 2020 election will be delayed. Reportedly, there is a dispute about how much **

    Bill Barr, what a disgraced career!

  7. the media lies and does so deliberately to fit their political agenda. I don’t believe anything they report about anything. I don’t know why anyone believes anything reported by the Washington Post, et al.

    1. Since the US Govt is paying all of the Fake Media the payments to each is supposed to be made Public!

  8. This calls for the ” I told you so ” dance!!! We’ve GOT to teach this to Prez Trump!

    1. Good luck! He isn’t a good enough dancer to do it, but he could use the exercise.

      1. Anonym…….but don’t forget those smooth moves ( actually a little jerky) that he does when they start playing YMCA after his speeches! It cracks me up, but he has a great time with it. I love watching him.

  9. That the propaganda media got it all wrong is not a good look, is it?

    The propaganda comes in when we find out they had no evidence to support anything they published.

    That is why they are propaganda. Stories invented from nothingness with the intent to smear a political rival.

    I keep going back to the same conclusion. If President Trump is even half as bad as the propaganda agents want us to believe, why are they always reduced to lying?

    Just like examples of racism are so rare, the propaganda agents have to report on obvious false flags. Demand so outstripping supply of examples

    And then we have those poor souls that insist on arguing….absent evidence.

    1. Attkisson also asks:

      “Will NPR and others now correct their false reporting?”

  10. Another mayor, this time in the district of corruption, federal denied, federal aid sought, federal aid stigmatized, another Katrina controversy.

    That said, more than 16 trimesters of riots, protests, and insurrections across the nation, in our capitals, and capital buildings, in our businesses, in our neighborhoods, protected by urbane cultures and authorities. Several hundred assembled, invited, then denied civil rights, and one unarmed woman murdered as a public spectacle, an impetus to progress and taking a knee.

  11. Barr did go down and speak to the Park Police, let them know Trump was coming, and ask them to speed the process up. Let’s not leave out that part of the report.

    1. “Barr did go down and speak to the Park Police, let them know Trump was coming, and ask them to speed the process up. Let’s not leave out that part of the report.”
      Nope: “Instead, the evidence we reviewed showed that the USPP cleared the park to allow the contractor to safely install the antiscale fencing in response to destruction of property and injury to officers occurring on May 30 and 31. Further, the evidence showed that the USPP did not know about the President’s potential movement until mid- to late afternoon on June 1—hours after it had begun developing its operational plan and the fencing contractor had arrived in the park.”

        1. Scooter…give us a break here.

          You quote the ABC…..and insist their account is correct….but deny the accuracy of the DOI IG Report.

          Come On Man….don’t be a two faced lying Pony Soldier…..which is the more likely to be accurate?

          1. Ralph, I didn’t quote ABC, I showed a picture of Barr meeting with the Park Police. I think that’s highly accurate. I also didn’t deny anything in the IG report. I did say Turley left out a part that doesn’t make Barr or Trump appear to be so innocent. They didn’t create the situation but did take advantage of it. You probably didn’t do so well at reading with comprehension.

  12. All to defend your buddy, Barr, who denies that HE ordered the clearing of the park. Well, someone did. Who was it? Given the mendacity of the Trump administration, we don’t believe Barr. “No evidence to support the allegation” doesn’t mean there wasn’t any–it means they didn’t find any. Not the same thing. Finding evidence might mean someone would stop lying. So, Turley, are you trying to say that it was just a coincidence that the park was cleared right before the fat election cheater strutted over to pose in front of St. John’s and that Barr knew nothing about it in advance? How much planning does a move like this take, because there were 35 Secret Service placed in hiding, like bushes and trees, so the obese narcissist could play macho man and strut over to the church without being surrounded by armed men, which would make him look like the coward he was. And…if the protests right there at that specific place and time were so violent, why was fatso allowed to go out there to begin with? The fact is, there were no violent protests in front of St. John’s at that specific time, and noxious respiratory irritants were used on Episcopalian clergy and seminarians so chubby could have his photo op, surrounded by his bottle blondies.

    You’ve once again tried to blur the facts about Mayor Muriel. The tear gas incident involving her was A BLOCK AWAY. Not the same thing at all. Keep that pot stirring, Turley. The disciples might start watching CNN or MSNBC and hear the truth.

    1. Natacha wrote, “The disciples might start watching CNN or MSNBC and hear the truth.”

      After seeing what CNN and MSNBC have done since 2016, associating “the truth” with CNN or MSNBC is signature significant of someone completely consumed by the hive minded borg; aka a blithering idiot.

      1. Natacha wrote, “The disciples might start watching CNN or MSNBC and hear the truth.”

        Hear THIS truth and never forget it: all they do is lie.

    2. Her name is Mayor BOWzer, Muriel BOWzer.

      Her name sounds like a cartoon character and she acts stupider than one too.

    3. What Turley’s article reports has been a known fact for a year. Today an IG report proved it again.

  13. The political left and their lapdog Pravda like media machine have shown me over and over again since 2016 that they are untrustworthy to accurately present the news, instead they twist events into pure propaganda lies to actively demonize anyone and anything that stands in their way of absolute power.

    I have absolutely no reason to trust anything that comes from the political left or their lapdog media.

    Propaganda Is Destroying Trust In The Fourth Estate and Wreaking Havoc On Society

  14. Lefties are liars (as are many ordinary people), but the Lefties try to rewrite the history books.

    And their TDS leads them to the most stupid lies, which are inevitably discovered.

    And then there are the Lefty bloggers here who are impervious to truth, facts, or logic.

    Some of them, like Anonymous, will post 20 times in the hope of convincing us through repetition that he is right. Way to become an object of contempt.

  15. Thank you Professor Turley, for highlighting the facts, exposing the truth.

    I would be shocked to see any of the MSM give coverage to this news as you have.

  16. If Democrats are not allowed to lie like this, what hope do they have of bringing about the downfall of the United States?

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