Trump supporters spread new conspiracy theory that ANTIFA was behind Capitol violence
Within hours of Wednesday's violent assault on the Capitol, many Trump supporters were already pushing a new conspiracy theory: that left-wing activists were to blame. The theory was even echoed on the floor of the House of Representatives.
"Some of the people that breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters," said Rep. Matt Gaetz. "They are masquerading as Trump supporters but are, in fact, members of the violent terrorist group, ANTIFA".
But Kane In Your Corner finds little credible evidence to support that theory, and much more to indicate right-wing activists were involved.
One of the earliest pieces of evidence circulated on right-wing social media was photos of a protester with his face painted, wearing a Viking-style helmet, among the group that had breached the Capitol building. As Trump supporters were quick to point out, the man had attended several Black Lives Matter protests last summer.
But the protester, 32-year-old Jake Angeli, is a well-known Trump supporter from Arizona. The original photo, which had been cropped by Trump supporters, shows he was attending the BLM event as a counter-protester.
Derrick Evans, a newly elected GOP state lawmaker from West Virginia, was in a group of protesters that forced its way past Capitol police. Evans live-streamed it on Facebook as it happened.
"We’re in! We're In" he can be heard screaming excitedly. "Derrick Evans is in the capitol!"
Evans later released a statement on Facebook, saying he only entered the building as "an independent member of the media."
Nich Ochs, founder of Proud Boys Hawaii, also took selfies of himself after breaching the Capitol. He too now claims he was acting as a journalist.
Tim Gionet live-streamed from inside the Capitol for more than 25 minutes. Gionet attended the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
"One of the most troubling things about the rise of these second level conspiracy theories, the idea that ANTIFA supporters rather than Trump supporters were running riot through the capital, was that it was echoed by some members of Congress," says David Greenberg, Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University and author of Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency.
Greenberg says, "context is everything" because images or brief video clips are viewed repeatedly.
"For those of us who follow mainstream news, there tends to be a fuller, more complete context," he says. "For people who are plugged into left-wing or right-wing sources, the same images can take on a very different meaning."
Consider another piece of evidence cited by Trump supporters: an article from a conservative newspaper that claimed a facial recognition company identified several people in the middle of the violence as ANTIFA members.
The company said that article was wrong, and the newspaper has since removed it from its website. But the conspiracy theory lives on.