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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

Capitol Police officer who died after pro-Trump riot will lie in honor

A vigil honoring United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 28. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died in early January from injuries sustained while responding to the siege on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Friday evening.

Why it matters: Lying in honor is a final tribute reserved only for private citizens who have rendered distinguished service to the nation, according to the Architect of the Capitol.

Abbott says he'll hire Border Patrol agents who whipped at migrants

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday defended the actions of U.S. Border Patrol agents who charged at Haitian migrants on horseback, blaming the Biden administration for not preventing them from crossing the border.

Why it matters: Abbott's remark on "Fox News Sunday" comes amid increased backlash over the incident, with President Biden saying, "I promise... those people will pay,” and the Department of Homeland Security launching an investigation.

Everyone wants to be an influencer

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The number of people looking to become online influencers has exploded during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Almost anyone can find themselves in a position to become an influencer, and brands are throwing billions of dollars at online content creators.