Washington, D.C., was on edge Thursday from an hourslong standoff with a man who parked his pickup truck near Capitol Hill while claiming to have a bomb, and spouting a number of right-wing conspiracy theories.
An analysis by Media Matters found that Fox News only covered the story for a total of about 23-and-a-half minutes on Thursday. Nine of those minutes came just after the suspect surrendered, when Fox aired a few minutes of live coverage of the Capitol Police briefing, followed by further commentary by a Fox News correspondent. Following that block, the story received only 40 seconds total of acknowledgment for the rest of the evening, in just two brief news headline treatments. There has been no coverage thus far today, as of noon EDT.
And not only did Fox News give scant coverage to the story, but the network then covered up the suspect’s motives by claiming they were “unknown” — even though the suspect, Floyd Roseberry of North Carolina, had used Facebook to livestream his own rantings, which were reported by plenty of other news outlets.
Roseberry repeatedly demanded that President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and other Democratic officials resign from office, while also repeating false claims about the 2020 election. “I just got chose for the job. Unlike you,” Roseberry reportedly said. “This ain’t about politics. I don’t care if Donald Trump ever becomes president again. I think y'all Democrats need to step down. Y'all need to understand people don’t want you there.”
The Associated Press also found that Roseberry’s Facebook account, before the company took it down Thursday, contained video of him marching at a November rally “with a crowd of hundreds of people carrying American flags and Trump flags and shouting ‘stop the steal.’” NBC's Ben Collins noted in a Twitter thread that one of Roseberry's claims echoed a falsehood that has been popular in right-wing Facebook for months, claiming that Afghan refugees and undocumented immigrants would get free health care, something that was not available “for us.” The Washington Post also noted that Roseberry had “called for a revolt against the federal government and claimed there were other ‘patriots’ waiting in vehicles elsewhere in D.C.” — though police believe that Roseberry was really acting alone.
Fox News’ reporting staff was certainly aware of all this, even if they did not spell it out for viewers. While the standoff was still going on, Fox News correspondent Mark Meredith explained in an update that the suspect had been livestreaming: “He was going on somewhat of a political tirade, but police are asking people not to go and try to find that video, they’ve already been taken down off of Facebook, as they’re trying to of course negotiate a peaceful end to all of this.” (Meredith did not explain any of the contents of that “political tirade.”)
In a later update, Fox News correspondent David Spunt added: “The man in the video mentions the president multiple times, calling him ‘Joe,’ also House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He continues to talk about a revolution, but claims he wants to end this peacefully.”
But after the standoff was over, even those slight references had been erased from the network’s knowledge. This started with coverage on Special Report by news anchor Bret Baier, who only addressed the story in a set of brief headlines and claimed that the suspect’s motive “remains unknown.”
The only time afterward that the story was mentioned at all was during another quick headline block, delivered by overnight news anchor Jackie Ibañez in between segments of The Ingraham Angle, with Ibañez also saying that there was, “so far, no word on a possible motive.”
Fox’s purported “straight news” side has downplayed its coverage of the continued investigations into the January 6 insurrection, when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol in an effort to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. The news side has also covered up its own role in having spread the election lies that helped lead to the attack. At the same time, the network’s opinion hosts have attacked police officers and Capitol security measures, and spread new conspiracy theories about the attack while also threatening another one.