Ahead of the Pennsylvania primary election, the media appeared to pull out all the stops in attempting to smear the Republican gubernatorial frontrunner, state Sen. Doug Mastriano for stonewalling the press and employing an “insurrectionist” who was at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
NBC News released a questionable report Monday about Grant Clarkson, a staffer for Mastriano’s campaign, providing images that they contend prove the aide was not only at the Capitol but entered the building despite denials. In setting up their “exposé” they pointed out Clarkson was videoed blocking the media from entering a rally Saturday that hosted both Mastriano and Senate hopeful Kathy Barnette.
Both Mastriano and Barnette have admitted to being in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 and NBC News reported them as “far-right” supporters of “Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.” Their report contended that “Photos and video obtained by NBC News appear to show Clarkson, a former congressional intern who more recently worked as a legislative assistant for the Republican caucus in the Pennsylvania Legislature, present on the restricted grounds of the Capitol on Jan. 6.”
At left, Grant Clarkson on the restricted grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. At right, Grant Clarkson denying @costareports and others access to Doug Mastriano’s campaign event.https://t.co/ql2ghH1Cu3 pic.twitter.com/aRt2dMhyc8
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) May 16, 2022
“Images unearthed by members of the ‘Sedition Hunters’ community investigating the Capitol breach appear to show Clarkson on the west side of the Capitol just over a retaining wall, standing on a pillar at the top of the stairs on the eastern side of the Capitol, as a mob breaches doors with shattered windows and then watching and smiling as rioters smash media equipment on Capitol grounds,” NBC News continued.
However, many noted the questionable veracity of the image outside the Capitol and suggested the high probability that the picture had indeed been photoshopped. Attention was drawn to Clarkson’s leg where his pants abruptly stop at a line.
As for the stonewalling of the media, the video linked from CBS News does in fact show Clarkson requesting media remain behind a designated line outside the event in Warminster, Pa., Saturday. A similar incident was reported by MSNBC showing a man in a tricorn hat politely asking a reporter to stand outside the designated area.
— MSNBC Reports: Weekends (@MSNBCweekends) May 14, 2022
NBC News did speak with Clarkson though, reporting that they had made contact on his cellphone. Excerpts of the conversation do not provide the specific questions that were asked of the aide. Instead, NBC News reported, “‘I, uh, don’t recall smashing any cameras,’ Clarkson said when he was asked why he was smiling as he watched while media equipment was destroyed.”
For his part, Clarkson objected to the reporting that he had entered the Capitol, “I didn’t go inside. That’s the only thing I will tell you is that I didn’t go inside.”
He also called out the press for playing games with the story and was reported saying, “You’re clearly going to put my name out there, and probably some photos of me.”
Mastriano’s campaign has not released a statement about the accusations and they, as of this posting, had not responded to NBC News’ request for comment.
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