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Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

You can't understand America, 2021, without watching how right-wing media explained a mob storming the U.S. Capitol for the first time since the early 19th century.

The big picture: The right's favored media — conservative TV, websites and social networks — offered an alternate reality in which everyone but pro-Trump rioters were to blame for the mayhem at the Capitol.

Here's the version of events a good chunk of America got:

  • Instead of condemning the pro-Trump mobs that stormed Washington, right-wing media outlets mostly blamed left-wing activists, the media, Vice President Pence — and even police officers — for the riots that some suggested were the start of a "civil war" in America.
  • Hosts on Fox News, One America News Network and Newsmax went so far as to baselessly suggest that the unlawful protestors at the Capitol may have been members of Antifa.
  • Conspiracy theorist Lin Wood tweeted to his over 1 million followers before having his account suspended: "Mike Pence @VP @Mike_Pence is a TRAITOR, a Communist Sympathizer & a Child Molester. Lock him up."

Even when it became obvious that the riots were becoming destructive, right-wing networks downplayed the severity of events, calling those marching on the Capitol mostly peaceful protestors.

  • Presenters on OANN argued the riots were nothing compared to racial-justice protests over the summer.
  • One meme that was posted to TheDonald.win, a fringe-right alternative social network, featured a cartoon of a police officer telling a Black Lives Matter protester, "Please stop, we can work this out" — while holding a police shield, but holding a gun up against a white MAGA protestor.

Other themes that were prevalent on right-wing websites and TV networks were that rioters had no choice but to storm the Capitol in order to fight for investigations into a "fraudulent" election.

  • Some posters suggested that the Democrats' Georgia runoff wins implied that the country was turning communist.

The bottom line ... Tucker Carlson ended the monologue at the top of his Fox News show by saying: "We got to this sad, chaotic day for a reason. It is not your fault. It is their fault."

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”

Off the Rails

Episode 6: Last stand in Georgia

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer, Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 6: Georgia had not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 and Donald Trump's defeat in this Deep South stronghold, and his reaction to that loss, would help cost Republicans the U.S. Senate as well. Georgia was Trump's last stand.

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.

2 hours ago - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."