Far-right apologists for the January 6 insurrectionists, from Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia to Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin to Fox News' Tucker Carlson, have seriously downplayed the violence that occurred that day at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Johnson has defended the rioters as "people that love this country" and said there was "no violence" during that attack; Clyde has compared the January 6 attack to a "normal tourist visit," while Carlson has defended the insurrectionists as "sad, disenfranchised people." But conservative columnist Charlie Sykes sees nothing innocent or harmless about the January 6 insurrection, and he emphasizes that Republican apologists for the rioters have given Russian President Vladimir Putin an anti-U.S. talking point.
In his June 17 column for The Bulwark, the Never Trump conservative writes, "Our current sludge of disinformation, bilge and crackpottery is thoroughly domestic, amplified by a million voices on social media, national networks, and until recently, the White House itself. And now, it has come full circle as Russian President Vladimir Putin feeds back our homegrown disinformation. (The Washington Post's) Dana Milbank notes the symmetry: 'For the past few years, Republicans in Congress have echoed Russian propaganda. On Wednesday, in Geneva, Vladimir Putin returned the favor: He echoed Republican propaganda.'"
Putin's allies in the Kremlin, Sykes laments, "have adopted the talking points of" American "right-wing media about January 6." On June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland, Sykes notes, Putin pointed out that the January 6 rioters are facing "very harsh sentences."
"Putin took the opportunity to emphasize the point," Sykes writes. "Asked about his repression of political dissent, Putin put on a bravura performance of whataboutism."
In Geneva, Putin brought up Ashli Babbitt, a Capitol rioter fatally shot on January 6 — and Sykes writes that comparing the shooting of Babbitt to human rights abuses in Russia is ludicrous.
"Afterward, President Biden called the comparison 'ridiculous,' as indeed it was," Sykes observes. "But the whole episode showed how our political world has devolved in just a few years."