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The Associated Press this week ran a 49-paragraph story some online have likened to a "smear"
piece on Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old U.S. military veteran who was fatally shot by police in the Capitol during the January 6 riot.
"Ex-President Donald Trump and his supporters have sought to portray Ashli Babbitt as a righteous martyr. But the life of the Air Force veteran from California was more complicated than the heroic portrait presented by Trump and his allies,"
AP reporter Michael Biesecker captioned his story on Babbitt.
The piece outlines, in painstaking fashion, an account from a woman who claims Babbitt harassed her and had an affair with her boyfriend. Babbitt was hit with criminal charges from slamming into the woman's SUV. Readers only find out that the criminal charges were dropped against Babbitt, who claimed the crash was an accident, about three-quarters of the way into the piece; here's the sum of that clarification: "A judge acquitted Babbitt on the criminal charges."
Reporters and politicos online were quick to highlight the obvious media double-standard when covering unarmed fatalities with police involvement.
"This [Associated Press] article about #AshliBabbitt, a rioter killed by Capitol police on Jan. 6, is a remarkable act of victim-blaming,"
posted Nick Gillespie. "Babbitt is neither a martyr nor a sinner and her messy personal life shouldn't be used to imply she got what was coming."
"There is a reason the regime will smear Ashli Babbitt over her 'past' and promotes George Floyd as a martyr of excessive force,"
Jack Posobiec wrote.
"Liberals get enraged when news outlets dig up dirt on the past of unarmed victims of police shootings in order to show they were 'no angels': i.e. to justify the shooting,"
highlighted Glenn Greenwald. "Apparently it's OK sometimes: here's HuffPost on how Ashli Babbitt was no angel."
"Why is the media obsessed with smearing Ashli Babbitt's name almost a year after her passing?"
questioned Brigitte Gabriel.
Notably, the officer who fatally shot Babbitt, who stood at 5 feet, 2 inches, never had any charges brought against him. When the AP covered the death of George Floyd, the outlet ran a 55 paragraph story underscoring Floyd's upbringing in poverty, his athletic talent, and how much he was beloved in his hometown. The AP notedly glossed over Floyd's lengthy rap sheet - which totaled five sentences:
Between 1997 and 2005, Floyd was arrested several times on drug and theft charges, spending months in jail. ... In August 2007, Floyd was arrested and charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Investigators said he and five other men barged into a woman's apartment, and Floyd pushed a pistol into her abdomen before searching for items to steal. Floyd pleaded guilty in 2009 and was sentenced to five years in prison. By the time he was paroled, in January 2013, he was nearing 40.
The AP coverage on Floyd's "complicated life"
opened with the following anecdote:
Years before a bystander's video of George Floyd's last moments turned his name into a global cry for justice, Floyd trained a camera on himself.
"I just want to speak to you all real quick," Floyd says in one video, addressing the young men in his neighborhood who looked up to him. His 6-foot-7 frame crowds the picture.
"I've got my shortcomings and my flaws and I ain't better than nobody else," he says. "But, man, the shootings that's going on, I don't care what 'hood you're from, where you're at, man. I love you and God loves you. Put them guns down."
Here's how Babbitt's "complex"
The first time Celeste Norris laid eyes on Ashli Babbitt, the future insurrectionist had just rammed her vehicle three times with an SUV and was pounding on the window, challenging her to a fight.
Norris says the bad blood between them began in 2015, when Babbitt engaged in a monthslong extramarital affair with Norris' longtime live-in boyfriend. When she learned of the relationship, Norris called Babbitt's husband and told him she was cheating.
"She pulls up yelling and screaming," Norris said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, recounting the July 29, 2016, road-rage incident in Prince Frederick, Maryland. "It took me a good 30 seconds to figure out who she was. ... Just all sorts of expletives, telling me to get out of the car, that she was going to beat my ass."
Terrified and confused, Norris dialed 911 and waited for law enforcement. Babbitt was later charged with numerous misdemeanors.
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