Supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday at approximately 2:15 p.m. EST, breaking through several police barriers and forcing the building into lockdown. The House of Representatives and the Senate were in the process of certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory when they were evacuated as rioters broke into both chambers. At least one person has been shot and reportedly killed.
Approximately two hours after his supporters stormed the steps of the Capitol, Trump tweeted a video message listlessly suggesting the mob go home while continuing to repeat baseless claims that the election was stolen.
The entire D.C. National Guard along with members of the Secret Service, the Virginia National Guard, the Federal Protective Service and the Arlington, Virginia, Police Department have been called on to back up the U.S. Capitol Police, which were unable to prevent the mob from breaching the Capitol.
Meanwhile, multiple Fox News personalities used their platform to downplay the gravity of the situation over the course of the afternoon and evening, calling the people attacking the Capitol “protesters” or “demonstrators,” while outlets including The Washington Post and NPR designated them a “mob” and “pro-Trump extremists.” Some at Fox also absurdly compared the riot at the Capitol to racial justice rallies over the summer and even tried to justify the insurrectionists’ actions throughout the entirety of Wednesday afternoon and into the evening.
- At 2:40 p.m., The Story anchor Martha MacCallum called breaching the Capitol building “a huge victory” for the pro-Trump extremists because “they have disrupted the system in an enormous way.”
- About 10 minutes later, MacCallum also seemingly justified the actions of the pro-Trump extremists and asked viewers to feel sorry for Vice President Mike Pence: “I keep going back in my mind to Griff Jenkins speaking with that man on the street. I think a lot of this was that they were promised something. These people were told that today was going to overturn the election. And when you hear the passion in their voices, you can understand why they are severely disappointed.” MacCallum also asked viewers to feel sorry for Vice President Mike Pence, saying: “The pressure on the vice president in the past few days has been extraordinary. And now he was the first person who was ushered out of that chamber to safety because he is under an enormous amount of pressure for the decision that he made and the expectation that so many of these people had for what he was going to do. So just put yourself in his shoes in this moment. Very frightening time, to be sure, for him.”
- A few minutes after the insurrectionists breached the U.S. Capitol, Special Report anchor Bret Baier downplayed it: “It's not like it's a siege. ... It seems like they are protesting.”
- About 30 minutes later, Baier excused the failure of the Capitol Police to stop the attack: “We should be careful. The Capitol Police are doing the best they can. No police force like this could be able to stop a crowd rushing like this unless you have a big force like the National Guard. So, when we say it was a security failure, we should point out it is a political failure that this has come to this point.”
- Fox correspondent John Roberts downplayed the urgency of the situation and Trump’s culpability after “he aired his long list of continued grievances about the November 3 election and then sent them on their way to the Capitol,” saying, “Seems to me what we are seeing on Capitol Hill may be something that the president might want to address with a little more direction than we have seen so far.”
- Fox correspondent Griff Jenkins referred to the pro-Trump event in D.C. as “peaceful” just minutes after pro-Trump extremists began breaking into the Capitol.
- Fox reporter Mike Tobin downplayed the assault on the Capitol nearly an hour and a half after it began: “One of the points that the demonstrators are making is that this is different from what we've seen with the BLM-type demonstrations because aside from some of the things that were broken getting into the Capitol and disregarding the reports now of the woman who was shot, but aside from the things that were broken getting into the Capitol in terms of doors, they say there is no vandalism taking place. This is people sending a message.” He added, “I'm just reflecting their viewpoints and what people have said to me out here.”
- On Fox Business, Trump pardon recipient and former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik said at 3:08 p.m. that the mob is not “a powder keg about to explode” and justified their anger, saying: “There’s never been an inauguration like this. There’s never been anything like this where the election was stolen from a president. And that’s my personal opinion. But that’s the opinion of probably 75 million other people.” Kerik later added: “I understand people are upset. However, that doesn’t give you the right to storm the Capitol, to engage in any kind of acts of violence.”
- At 4:02 p.m., Fox News host Laura Ingraham likened the attack to Black Lives Matter protests: “A lot of the people who are, I'm glad, condemning any violence or intrusion into federal installations and so forth were markedly silent when there was widespread violence and pushing back on police and National Guard troops and attempts to breach that fence right outside the White House perimeter.”
- About 20 minutes after Ingraham made her comment, Fox contributor Katie Pavlich also claimed the Capitol attack is equivalent to racial justice protests from the summer of 2020: “Let’s not forget that the DNC and the Biden campaign refused to condemn the violence and the burning of our cities all summer long until the polling showed it was affecting their campaign.”
- At 5:08 p.m., Fox Business host Lou Dobbs defended the pro-Trump insurrectionists: “You would have thought it was a full-on riot with armed looters going through the building,” but “the protesters who had invaded the Capitol were walking between the rope lines.”