Laura Ingraham Claims Tear Gas Wasn’t Used on Protestors, Gets Fact Checked By Reporters Who Were There

Media Most Influential List honoree Laura Ingraham at CPAC 2019

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Laura Ingraham claimed no tear gas was used on protestors outside the White House Monday night, after demonstrations were forcefully broken up to allow President Donald Trump to visit a Washington D.C. church.

Those claims were swiftly disputed by reporters who were at the scene, and are contradicted by Fox News’s own reporting on the protests.

Ingraham responded with outrage to the following statement from former Obama adviser David Axelrod: “Tear gas & rubber bullets, horses & batons to break up a peaceful crowd across from the WH apparently to clear them out all so the @POTUS could stage a photo op, holding up a bible. at St. John’s Episcopal Church.”

“False,” Ingraham replied, asking why Twitter had not fact checked the post.

“No tear gas,” she claimed. “Horses are used for safe crowd control. Mayor set 7p curfew. No coordination with Park Police. FALSE.”

According to footage of the scene and reports from the ground, heavily armed police and National Guard units flooded into Lafayette Square in Washington D.C. on Monday to crack down on a peaceful protest. It was around 6:30 p.m.: moments before Trump delivered a speech from the Rose Garden and 30 minutes before the 7 p.m. curfew.

Police used gas and flash grenades to clear the crowd of peaceful protestors. Live footage caught a police officer brutally beating an Australian journalist.

When Trump finished his Rose Garden speech, he walked through the now-empty Lafayette Square, under Secret Service protection, to pose in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church with a Bible. The church had been set on fire by rioters the night before.

Ingraham’s claim that no tear gas was used is likely based on several tweets from a WTOP reporter, who cited an anonymous source from U.S. Park Police claiming only smoke canisters were deployed on the crowd. The source also claimed police did not clear the square to for Trump to visit the church.

Those claims are refuted by reporting on the ground.

CNN national security correspondent Alex Marquardt called the notion that no tear gas was used “ridiculous.”

“I was in the middle of a crowd coughing up a lung. All sort of projectiles were being fired at a peaceful crowd,” he wrote.

Yahoo News White House correspondent Hunter Walker — who was at the protest — also fact checked Ingraham’s claim, linking to a video of the moment police gassed the crowd.

“To describe the sensation to you, my eyes are just filling with tears and absolutely stinging,” Walker reported, as he showed protestors dousing their eyes with water.

“This is like doubly Orwellian because I was gassed,” Walker wrote of the police denial. “These people are literally asking me not to believe what my eyes saw and felt. It’s actual teargaslighting.”

Despite that reporting from the ground, U.S. Park Police issued a statement later Tuesday claiming that they did not use tear gas, but conceding that pepper balls were deployed to disperse the crowd. The CDC considers pepper spray a form of tear gas. Its website makes clear that pepper spray is one of several “Riot control agents (sometimes referred to as ‘tear gas’)”.

Rev. Gini Gerbasi, who was at St. John’s Episcopal Church before Trump’s photo op, also said police cleared out clergy and protestors from the scene with chemicals.

“I was coughing, her eyes were watering, and we were trying to help people as the police – in full riot gear – drove people toward us,” she wrote in a post on Facebook.

UPDATE: Ingraham has demanded a correction of this article based on the claim from Park Police that the gas they deployed, which brought protestors to tears, was not tear gas. It bears repeating that Fox News itself reported that tear gas was used on protestors.

The Associated Press also published a fact check of claims tear gas wasn’t used, which quoted a public health expert:

“Tear gas is anything that makes you cry,” said Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, speaking of chemicals used in crowd dispersal. “Pepper spray is a tear gas. But there are all kinds of other ones, too.”

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Editor in Chief of Mediaite. Send tips via email: Ask for Signal. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin