New York: Donald Trump, whose "seditious rhetoric" incited a violent attack on the Capitol, is a "menace" and is unfit to remain in office and must be removed, US media outlets have asserted, as they tore into the American President, demanding that he be held accountable through impeachment proceedings or criminal prosecution.
Thousands of Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol and clashed with police on Wednesday, resulting in at least the death of four persons and interrupting a constitutional process to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the election.
In an editorial titled 'Trump is to blame for Capitol attack', The New York Times said, "President Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress incited a violent attack Wednesday against the government they lead and the nation they profess to love. This cannot be allowed to stand."
The NYT editorial said Trump's "seditious rhetoric" prompted a mob of thousands of people to storm the US Capitol building, some breaking onto the House and Senate floors, where the nation's elected representatives had gathered to perform their constitutional duty of counting electoral votes and confirming the election of Joe Biden as president.
"The president needs to be held accountable — through impeachment proceedings or criminal prosecution — and the same goes for his supporters who carried out the violence. In time, there should be an investigation of the failure of the Capitol Police to prepare for an attack that was announced and planned in public," the report said.
"This is not just an attack on the results of the 2020 election. It is a precedent — a permission slip for similar opposition to the outcomes of future elections. It must be clearly rejected, and placed beyond the pale of permissible conduct. The leaders of the Republican Party also bear a measure of responsibility for the attack on the Capitol," it said.
The Washington Post in an editorial titled 'Trump caused the assault on the Capitol. He must be removed' said the president's "refusal to accept his election defeat and his relentless incitement of his supporters led Wednesday to the unthinkable: an assault on the US Capitol by a violent mob that overwhelmed police and drove Congress from its chambers as it was debating the counting of electoral votes".
"Responsibility for this act of sedition lies squarely with the president, who has shown that his continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to US democracy. He should be removed," the Post editorial said.
Trump is "unfit" to remain in office for the next 14 days, when on January 20 President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn-in as the next leader of America, it said, adding "Every second he retains the vast powers of the presidency is a threat to public order and national security”.
Vice President Mike Pence, who had to be whisked off the Senate floor for his own protection, should immediately gather the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, declaring that Trump is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office," it said.
The Congress, which would be required to ratify the action if Trump resisted, should do so and Pence should serve until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20.
"Americans put on their seat belts, follow traffic laws, pay taxes and vote because of faith in a system — and that faith makes it work. The highest voice in the land incited people to break that faith, not just in tweets, but by inciting them to action. Trump is a menace, and as long as he remains in the White House, the country will be in danger," the editorial said.
The NYT editorial said January 6, 2021, will go down as a "dark day".
"The question is whether, even as Trump’s time in office ends, America is at the beginning of a descent into an even darker and more divided epoch or the end of one. The danger is real, but the answer is not foreordained," it said.
Media Captures Unprecedented Storming of U.S. Capitol
The Associated Press reported that storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump played out on television in searing fashion Wednesday, with stunning pictures of guns drawn in the House of Representatives and hand-to-hand combat with police.
The scenes of bedlam and fear at the centre of national government erupted quickly, but journalists wondered whether they should have been a surprise.
“It's hard to believe that this is going on,” said CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
“This is unprecedented, it is dangerous and this is so, so embarrassing for the United States of America.”
The social media giants Twitter and Facebook took the unprecedented step of suspending Trump's privileges to post messages on their platforms, at least temporarily. Both companies said Trump had violated their policies.
Journalists had gathered to follow Congress' counting of electoral college ballots to seal the victory of President-elect Joe Biden, a normally routine event turned tense by the challenge to the vote by some of Trump's political allies.
As that debate was ongoing, the media's focus shifted to outside Congress, where supporters who had gathered to hear an aggrieved president fume about his defeat began streaming to the Capitol. They climbed the Capitol steps, where one person held a placard saying “fight for Trump.”
After breaching the building, pictures emerged of an armed standoff in the House as politicians cowered behind desks and people smashed the building's windows and climbed in. Newsmax showed stunning footage of police and rioters squaring off in the Capitol Rotunda.
“The mob has overtaken the process of trying to certify the Electoral College,” said Fox News Channel reporter Chad Pergram. “Security here at the U.S. Capitol has failed.”
Given Trump's speech and two months of baseless charges that the election was rigged, several journalists raised questions about why law enforcement seemed so unprepared.
“The shock I have is how easy this was,” said NBC's Chuck Todd.
As images of people banging on a door at the Capitol aired, ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos said, “that is not Ukraine, that is not Belarus.”
There were debates in newsrooms across the country about what terminology to use to describe the participants. Demonstrators? Protestors? Rioters? A mob? CNN's Jake Tapper said, “We call them terrorists.” NBC's Lester Holt said “there are some elements of a coup attempt.”
CBS News Norah O’Donnell conducted an extraordinary interview with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, pressing him on whether he has urged Trump to do something to stop his supporters and confronting him on whether the false claims of widespread electoral fraud had led to it.
On CNBC, Shepard Smith ordered a tape of Trump's message stopped in midstream. “Stop the tape,” he said. “That is not true, and we are not airing it.”
CNN's Abby Phillip said Americans needed to question whether Trump was even capable of leading the country for the next two weeks.
“He is inciting violence against the government itself, lawlessness, vandalism and he's also completely MIA in terms of his principal job, which is to keep this country safe,” she said.
Even as the building was being stormed, Trump supporters in the media were calling into question who was responsible. On One America News Network, anchor Dan Ball said the violence was nothing like civil rights demonstrations last summer, and suggested without evidence that Antifa demonstrators may have disguised themselves as Trump supporters for the siege on the Capitol.
“We don't have all the facts,” he said.
Fox anchor Martha MacCallum, during the demonstration, called the breach of the Capitol a “huge victory” for protestors. She said they have “disrupted the system in an enormous way” and said it was an escalation of protests that included a demonstration in front of Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley's home.
There were tense moments for reporters outside the Capitol. A Fox News reporter asked a man to stop blocking his camera. A crew from The Associated Press had its equipment stolen and destroyed.
The nation's deep divisions played out in the media before and after protestors moved on the Capitol. Fox News Channel, Newsmax and OANN all carried the president's speech Wednesday live. CNN and MSNBC, meanwhile, ignored the president's words.
When Congress resumed debating Wednesday evening, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC played all or a portion of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney's speech condemning objections to the vote certification. Fox did not show Romney.