Posts misrepresent rioter’s actions in Jan. 6 Capitol attack
CLAIM: Footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol shows that Jacob Chansley, who participated in the riot sporting face paint, no shirt and a fur hat with horns, was “led through the Capitol by police the entire time he was in the building.”
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Court documents and video footage from the attack on the Capitol make clear that Chansley, who is widely known as the “QAnon Shaman” and is one of the most recognizable Jan. 6 rioters, entered the Capitol without permission, was repeatedly asked to leave the building and was not accompanied at all times.
THE FACTS: After Fox News host Tucker Carlson broadcast Jan. 6 security footage previously unseen by the public on his Monday night primetime show, social media users began sharing segments from his program that misrepresented Chansley’s involvement in the riot.
“BREAKING: Never before seen video of January 6 shows Jacob Chansley, the QAnon Shaman, being led through the Capitol by police the entire time that he was in the building,” reads a tweet that had received more than 189,000 likes and more than 65,000 shares as of Tuesday.
The tweet includes a clip from Carlson’s show in which Chansley can be seen calmly walking around the Capitol with officers in tow. Similar social media posts received hundreds of thousands of additional likes and shares.
But the footage in these posts, provided to Carlson by Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, leaves out important context about Chansley’s time in the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot.
A statement prepared by the Department of Justice, which was signed by Chansley and his attorney, provides a timeline of the rioter’s movement in the Capitol.
For example, the statement explains that Chansley entered the Capitol through a broken door as part of a crowd that “was not lawfully authorized to enter or remain in the building” and that he was one of the first 30 rioters inside. It goes on to note that although officers asked Chansley and others multiple times to leave the Capitol, he did not comply and actively riled up his fellow rioters. The statement describes Chansley’s interactions with officers, but also points out that he “entered the Gallery of the Senate alone.”
Many of Chansley’s actions on Jan. 6 are documented in video footage from that day.
Chansley pleaded guilty in September 2021 to a felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding. He was sentenced in November 2021 to 41 months in prison for his guilty plea, as well as 36 months of supervised release and a fine of $2,000 in restitution.
Asked about claims that protesters were led through the building, a Capitol Police spokesperson pointed The Associated Press to an HBO documentary about the riot, “Four Hours at the Capitol,” in which an officer describes his encounter with Chansley, including how he asked the rioter and others to leave the Senate wing.
Footage from the interaction, which appears in the documentary at the approximately 47:30 mark, was filmed by New Yorker writer Luke Mogelson.
“Any chance I can get you guys to leave the Senate wing?” the officer says as Chansley sits in the presiding officer’s chair on the Senate Dais. “I just want to let you guys know, this is like the sacredest place.”
A video of Chansley walking into the Capitol through the broken door is publicly available on the website of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger lambasted Carlson’s segment on the Jan. 6 footage in an internal memo Tuesday. The Capitol Police spokesperson confirmed the memo’s authenticity to the AP.
“Last night an opinion program aired commentary that was filled with offensive and misleading conclusions about the January 6 attack,” Manger wrote. “The opinion program never reached out to the Department to provide accurate context. One false allegation is that our officers helped the rioters and acted as ‘tour guides.’ This is outrageous and false.”
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.