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NPR headline not written before Trump supporters stormed Capitol

January 7, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: A National Public Radio story headlined “Trump Supporters Storm U.S. Capitol, Clash With Police” was published on Wednesday at 9:33 a.m. before the insurrection, proof that the violence was staged.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The story provided a running account of developments around protests at the Capitol as Congress met to certify electoral votes in the presidential election. The story was initially published at 9:33 a.m. and the headline was changed later in the day as the protests turned violent. 


THE FACTS: President President Donald Trump called on followers to gather in Washington on Wednesday to demonstrate against the certification of the vote electing Joe Biden president. In addressing the protesters Trump repeated numerous unfounded claims of election fraud and then encouraged demonstrators to go to the Capitol as lawmakers debated the electoral votes.

The demonstration turned violent as thousands stormed the Capitol, breaching security and rampaging through the building where lawmakers had to be evacuated.

Following the violence, posts circulated on social media showing a screenshot of an NPR headline along with a time stamp to falsely claim that the rioting was staged. The posts were used as part of a false narrative that suggests the rioters who stormed the nation’s capital were anti-fascists, not Trump supporters.

Seriously, how’d they know? STAGED,” said a Twitter post shared Thursday morning with a screenshot of the article with the 9:33 a.m. time stamp. 

If social media users had read the article before sharing the screenshot, they would have seen that the article was updated at 3:08 p.m. Wednesday about two hours after Trump supporters headed to the Capitol following Trump’s rally. 

A spokesman for NPR confirmed to the AP that the original story was posted at 9:33 a.m. and that the text was updated throughout the day. The link of the article reveals the original headline, which referenced the electoral college tallying votes earlier in the day. 

I can confirm that NPR is neither clairvoyant nor were we a part of a conspiracy of people who staged the events yesterday,” Ben Fishel, a media relations spokesman, said to the AP in an email.



This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: