‘Mysterious’ Jan. 6 rioter who got White House call identified, but ‘a-ha moment’ fizzles out

In a quite serious and most assuredly not at all coincidental act of journalism on the part of CNN following the “bombshell,” “a-ha moment” about a nine-second phone call from the White House switchboard to a Jan. 6 participant, the outlet demonstrated exactly why there is no trust in corporate media with a nothing burger reveal.

Since the mystery call was first reported Friday, most people likely hadn’t even heard of it yet. That didn’t stop CNN from acting as their own hype man with a headline that read like it was meant to be narrated by a movie trailer voice actor, “The mysterious nine-second call from the White House to a January 6 rioter: CNN reveals the rioter’s identity for the first time.”

After a short buildup of suspense, the outlet disclosed they had learned about the call “earlier this year” without specifying if that meant months or minutes and wrote, “The cell phone belonged to a 26-year-old Trump supporter from Brooklyn, New York named Anton Lunyk, who traveled to Washington DC the night before January 6 with two friends, Francis Connor and Antonio Ferrigno, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation, as well as a search of public records.”

As previously covered, CBS had teased an interview conducted by Bill Whitaker for “60 Minutes” with former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) where the one-time technical advisor to the Jan. 6 committee said, “You get a real a-ha moment when you see that the White House switchboard had connected to a rioter’s phone while it’s happening.”

Taken aback, Whitaker had asked after Riggleman gave the false impression that the call took place while Lunyk was in the building if he knew “who both ends of that call [were]?”

“I only know one end of the call. I don’t know the White House end, which I believe is more important,” he added.

Dousing cold water on their own report, CNN then went ahead and broke down how Lunyk, who, after pleading guilty to one count of “parading, demonstrating or picketing inside the Capitol” had been sentenced on Sept. 15 to a year of probation with two months of home confinement, $1242 in fines and 60 hours of community service. He reportedly doesn’t remember the call, doesn’t know anyone who worked at the White House and prosecutors who had access to his social media accounts and personal text messages made no mention of the nine-second call on any court documents.

“The phone call was not mentioned in Lunyk’s sentencing or any court documents. A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in Washington DC declined to comment,” they wrote before positing, “So is the call significant to the January 6 investigation?”

CNN then provided comments from Jan. 6 committee spokesman Tim Mulvey and California Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Zoe Lofgren, both on the committee, downplaying the call.

“Mr. Riggleman had limited knowledge of the committee’s investigation,” Mulvey offered as Schiff contended “it poses a real risk to be suggesting things.”

“He does not know what happened after April and a lot has happened in our investigation. Everything that he was able to relay prior to his departure has been followed up on and in some cases didn’t really peter out (sic), or there might have been a decision that suggested there was a connection between one number and one e-mail and a person that turned out not to pan out,” Lofgren offered before adding, “So we follow up on everything, and, you know, I don’t know what Mr. Riggleman is doing really.”

Without context, CNN went ahead and shared some of the messages between Lunyk, Connor and Ferrigno as they sought to maintain the narrative of violence from Jan. 6 wherein Connor had written on Jan. 8, 2021, “I would’ve said, “Our job yesterday wasn’t completed. Our end goal was to brutally murder [Vice President Mike] Pence and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, and sadly today they’re still breathing, therefore we must come back stronger and fiercely next time around.”

Lunyk then wrote to his friends on Jan. 12, 2021, “If they take my money I’m gonna shoot Pelosi.”

Capping off the likely lack of intent behind these messages, CNN shared another message from Connor on Jan. 8 about a crime that, if committed against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), there has remarkably been no word about.

“We raped AOC,” Connor texted.

Like the “bombshell” hearsay testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson that CNN used more hearsay to corroborate, corporate media, which has ignored the thousands of hours of video footage that detracts from their preferred “threat to democracy” retelling of Jan. 6, couldn’t help but speculate against the available facts as they concluded, “unless Lunyk or the person who placed the call comes forward publicly, the call’s contents or possible significance may remain a mystery.”

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Kevin Haggerty

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