For this assignment, I chose to look at a claim I saw on Twitter on far-right blogger Chaya Raichik’s feed, as well as on multiple other pages on Twitter, as it was being shared virally. The claim is that a 70-year-old grandmother from Colorado is currently on trial and has now been convicted for praying at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. She’s currently awaiting sentencing which could include jail time, a fine, or both.

The person in the claim is named Rebecca Lavrenz and she was indeed at the January 6th insurrection in DC. Lavrenz breached the Capitol building and has been found guilty on charges of entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct inside a restricted building, disorderly conduct in the Capitol, and parading or picketing in the Capitol. So no, she was not convicted of PRAYING. She committed crimes.

Why is Raichik’s claim worthy of evaluation? She is a very popular and well-known alt-right media entity now, thanks to the success of her “Libs of TikTok” branded videos and posts that she regularly features on her social media pages. As with most of her posts, red flags go up when she makes a specific claim, as she did here. This is a critical election year, and she’s trying to persuade voters. She presents many of her media posts in an “Us vs. Them” light, trying to paint Democrats and the Left as thugs going after innocent grandmothers praying in the Capitol building like she did with this recent post that she made. It’s important to call out misinformation as it spreads like wildfire online. It’s worthy to evaluate someone like Raichik and her claims because of her history of repeatedly spreading false information online to suit her agenda of trying to get Trump re-elected.

For me to evaluate this claim and post that Raichik made, I used the lateral reading technique we discussed this week, and I opened more tabs. I first wanted to see who Lavrenz was, and so when I googled her I saw a “go fund me” type of donation page dedicated to helping her cover her legal fees, etc. called Restoring Godly Culture. The page text says “Praying Grandma Gets Arrested
Help Rebecca Lavrenz with January 6th Related Expenses”.

I then opened another tab and searched specifically her name and “crimes” and found a newspaper in Colorado named The Colorado Sun, discussing her case in detail. The Headline: “Colorado Springs-area woman, known as “J6 Praying Grandma,” found guilty of breaching U.S. Capitol during Jan. 6 riot”.

The paper did its due diligence and fact-checking on this case. Nowhere do they say that she was convicted of “praying” in the Capitol as Raychik claims in her tweet post. That’s because praying isn’t a crime and there was not a single charge of hers that mentions praying. I also checked for other sources online, and numerous, credible sources came up reporting the same details as the Sun. Some of the reliable sources included The Washington Post, The Denver Post, The Colorado Springs Gazette, etc.

I also noticed on The Colorado Sun page, under the byline, a small link to “The Trust Project”, so I laterally read and opened another tab by clicking on the link. It mentions that “The Colorado Sun is proud to have gained The Trust Project mark, the first global transparency standard that proves a news outlet’s commitment to original reporting, accuracy, inclusion, and fairness.” So reliable and TRUTHFUL information is a standard this paper is proud of and accurate reporting is what they strive for.

I was impressed with the protocols they have in place to ensure correct information when reporting:

Verification & Fact Checking Standards

“This news organization commits to doing its best to publish accurate information across all of its content. We take many steps to ensure accuracy:

We guide our journalists to ask the following questions when they double-check information:

Through my claim analysis, It’s obvious and clear that Raychik’s claim that a grandmother who was innocently praying in the US Capitol caused her to get convicted in court, is a lie. It’s false, and it’s clearly and objectively false. Using the lateral reading technique, you can easily find out that this claim is nonsense. The body politic of the country really need to ensure they’re employing research tools such as lateral reading when seeing glib claims made online. It’s a crucially important tool and one to be regulalry used as an informed and dialed-in citizen.

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