Sit back with me for a moment and marvel at the level of sociopathy it took for our most recognizable members of Congress to feign arrest before a swarm of cameras, complete with imaginary handcuffs.

Of course, politics is just one big propaganda play, staged for the voters in pursuit of power. The media is supposed to apply scrutiny to the political theater, and separate nuggets of truth from hackneyed bluster for the audience’s benefit. But what happens when members of the media are not just complicit in the agitprop itself, but find themselves the mark?

This was the...

Sit back with me for a moment and marvel at the level of sociopathy it took for our most recognizable members of Congress to feign arrest before a swarm of cameras, complete with imaginary handcuffs.

Of course, politics is just one big propaganda play, staged for the voters in pursuit of power. The media is supposed to apply scrutiny to the political theater, and separate nuggets of truth from hackneyed bluster for the audience’s benefit. But what happens when members of the media are not just complicit in the agitprop itself, but find themselves the mark?

This was the case on Tuesday as members of Congress staged a protest in front of the Supreme Court. Capitol Police were called in to disperse the crowd that included the congressional “Squad” of Representatives Ilhan Omar, Cori Bush, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Once cameras arrived at the scene, the performance started. Police helped move the protesters out of the street and over to a shaded area. Omar and Ocasio-Cortez drew attention and ridicule online when they appeared to clasp their hands behind their back, as prisoners do once they have been handcuffed. Ocasio-Cortez even took a brief break from her pose to pump her fist in the air and give her hair the Neiman Marxist flip. Omar was filmed leading herself away in the same “cuffed” pose, before turning back to have a laugh with the crowd.

Even CNN Biden stenographer Edward-Isaac Dovere and back-at-it Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel couldn’t help but highlight the silliness. No protesters were detained or taken away in a police car. None were processed at a station and held. Not a one spent eight hours in a holding tank, nor did any see a judge. All were released after a gaggle with the press.

Not exactly the heavy-handed urban policing that Omar and Ocasio-Cortez claim to be fighting to reform!

The imaginary handcuff stunt drew an appropriate amount of ridicule, but it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. You see, Ocasio-Cortez and Omar are steeped in the art of agitprop and using the media for their own personal propaganda purposes. Neither is as interested in legislating as in deploying the media in this manner or hanging out on Instagram. In much the same way that PLO protesters feign injuries on stretchers, only to be caught by an unsuspecting camera a few moments later, the arrest stunt was textbook. And several members of the national media took the bait, because of course they did.

Within moments, outlets such as ABC News had published stories blaring that the congresspersons had been arrested. In a tweet, the network featured two photographs, one of Ocasio-Cortez shot from the front with her hands behind her being led away by an officer, the other of Omar in the same position. If your sole source of information on this event was ABC News, you would have the impression that the representatives were led away to the slammer in handcuffs. In a way, it’s surprising that Ocasio-Cortez has yet to fake handcuff bruises or claim police abuse while making margaritas on Instagram Live.

People on the right should have their fun over these theatrics — but there are lessons to be learned here too. Donald Trump used to set off four-day news cycles over the most anodyne of political exaggerations. Yet members of the Squad can do Rodney King cosplay for an eager and willing flock of cameras without ever being held accountable.