“A Thursday night news brief on Fox News contained a remarkable claim — that the network doesn’t have enough information to determine what motivated a man spouting right-wing conspiracy theories to shut down a significant portion of Washington, DC, around the Library of Congress by claiming to have a bomb earlier in the day.
“So far, no word on a possible motive,” said anchor Jackie Ibanez at the conclusion of a 15-second brief that amounted to the entirety of Fox News’s Thursday night coverage of the incident.
The brevity could conceivably be excused: No one was injured, and US Capitol Police announced Thursday evening they had cleared the suspect’s black pickup truck. And Fox News covered the incident as it was ongoing earlier in the day. But Ibanez’s claim about motive bears more scrutiny.
It’s true that after the bomb threat suspect — later identified as 49-year-old Floyd Ray Roseberry, of Grover, North Carolina — surrendered to law enforcement, police said “we don’t know what his motives are at this time.” (Fox News didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry from Vox asking the network to explain Ibanez’s “no word on a possible motive” report.)
But Ibanez’s comment may have been intended to obscure an uncomfortable truth for America’s most-watched cable news network. In videos streamed to Facebook before and during the bomb threat while he sat in a truck, Roseberry made clear he’s immersed in right-wing conspiracy theories and grievances that receive heavy play on Fox.
“Once this dickhead Biden’s out of office and the Democrats sitting down there in the f**kin’ jailhouse, our president’s gonna be Donald Trump, and this is no limit on his pardons,” claimed Roseberry in a video posted early Tuesday morning, alluding to a lie propagated by former President Donald Trump on Fox News as recently as Wednesday about the 2020 election being stolen from him.
“I just got chose for the job. Unlike you,” Roseberry added. “This ain’t about politics. I don’t care if Donald Trump ever becomes president again. I think y’all Democrats need to step down. Y’all need to understand people don’t want you there.””
“Facebook eventually removed Roseberry’s profile, but not before his videos were widely watched and summarized in media reports. Yet if you’d watched Fox News Thursday night, you’d have no idea those videos existed.”
“This isn’t the first time in recent years a violent right-wing extremist has been motivated by the same sort of incendiary rhetoric that the network traffics in.
In October 2018, social media posts from the lone suspect in a shooting that killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh indicated he was motivated by conspiracy theories about migrant caravans to the southern border representing an “invasion” of the country, conspiracy theories that continued to receive play on the network even in the days immediately following the shooting.
That same month, Fox News strained to avoid acknowledging the right-wing fanaticism that inspired a man to send explosive devices to CNN and other perceived enemies of then-President Trump
Hammering people with lies about Democrats stealing elections and overseeing an immigrant invasion of the country can have deadly consequences. It’s notable but not surprising that Fox News is unwilling to reckon with those consequences — especially in comparison to the wall-to-wall coverage that would likely ensue if an adherent of antifa or Black Lives Matter shut down the Capitol area with a bomb threat.”
“The attacks and retaliatory strike marked the first major military action of the Biden administration. The strike was calculated to signal to Iran that such attacks through proxies in the region would not be tolerated, the officials said, while avoiding escalation into a wider conflict as Biden seeks a diplomatic breakthrough with Tehran on the Iran nuclear deal.
The “proportionate” military response was conducted along with diplomatic measures, including consulting with coalition partners, the Pentagon said.
“The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel,” said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby. “At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both Eastern Syria and Iraq.””
“”The targets were chosen to correspond to the recent attacks — the facilities are utilized by KSS and KH — and to deter the risk of additional attacks over the coming weeks,” the spokesperson said. “The strikes were necessary to address the threat and proportionate to the prior attacks.”
At around 6 p.m. EST on Thursday night, U.S. fighter jets dropped seven 500-pound precision bombs on seven targets in eastern Syria, the official said. All bombs hit their targets, a crossing used by several Iran-backed militia groups to move weapons and other goods across the border. Initial reports suggest there were no casualties, militant or civilian.
Biden made the strategic decision to conduct the strike in Syria, rather than on Iraqi soil, in order to avoid pressure on the Iraqi government, the official said.
Conducting an airstrike in Syria is also less politically complicated for the Biden administration than an operation in Iraq, said Becca Wasser, an analyst with the RAND Corp. The U.S. does not need to request the permission of the Syrian government as it does not recognize Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, she said.
The airstrike came after Biden spoke Tuesday with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. The White House readout of the call hinted at the coming action. The men “discussed the recent rocket attacks against Iraqi and Coalition personnel and agreed that those responsible for such attacks must be held fully to account.””
“The United States dropped 7,423 bombs on Afghanistan last year—that’s an average of more than 20 per day—narrowly surpassing the previous record set in 2018.
It’s a statistic that belies the notion that President Donald Trump is an anti-war commander-in-chief, and one that suggests America is still no closer to winning its longest military conflict.
Trump has overseen a massive escalation in the amount of ordnance fired at Afghanistan in the past two years, according to a new report from the U.S Air Force. But other than blasting thousands of new craters in the war-torn country and terrorizing the people unfortunate enough to live there, there is little evidence that bombing the hell out of what’s left of the country is accomplishing any vital U.S. interest. Amid the record-breaking year of attacks, the Trump administration was holding on-and-off peace talks with the Taliban—you know, the same group we went to war nearly two decades ago to remove—aimed at handing over control of the country.”
“now the Trump administration does not even appear willing to explain its Afghanistan strategy to Congress. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to appear at a congressional hearing this week in which lawmakers grappled with the “Afghanistan Papers” published in December by The Washington Post. The Post’s document dump showed that the Pentagon has been lying for years about the status of the war in Afghanistan, while top military brass have privately concluded that the U.S. has no clear strategy or path to victory.”