Cable news outlets had to dramatically shift gears on Wednesday afternoon, when planned coverage of Congress’ certification of electoral votes cast in the presidential election pivoted to reporting on a D.C. protest that resulted in violent mobs infiltrating the U.S. Capitol and bringing said proceedings to a frightful halt.
“We are watching an attempted sedition,” CNN’s Jake Tapper observed, not mincing words. “We are watching an attempt at a bloodless coup in the United States.” (Update: Well, it was not entirely bloodless. Around 3:15 pm, a woman was reportedly shot inside the Capitol and seriously injured. No other details at this time.)
Given that said had protestors congregated at the Capitol building for the implicit purpose of protesting the aforementioned vote count, Tapper noted, “This is attempting to undermine the rule of law through use of force.” To which his guest at the time, former D.C. police chief Charles Ramsey interjected, “They’re not attempting, they have done it.”
“This is as close a coup attempt as this country has ever seen,” Rasmey added. “That’s what you’re looking at.”
“Astonishing” was a word used over on MSNBC, before they threw to a field reporter, outside the Capitol, who was repeatedly harassed and interrupted by cries of “fake news” from passersby.
When President Donald Trump finally tweeted about the matter, shortly after 2:30 pm ET — saying, “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!” — CNN’s Tapper was moved to question that choice of words: “It’s odd that he said ‘stay peaceful’ given that this crowd has not been peaceful.”
Over on Fox News, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the Republican congressman from Illinois, declared that leading up to this, “The president’s tweets have been insane.” Rather than fanning flames, “The president needs to show leadership right now [and] bring order to this so we can move forward,” he said.
The joint session of Congress was abruptly shut down, to rush Vice President Pence to safety and shelter others in place, when protestors made their way past layers of barricades and law enforcement types and, ultimately, made camp inside the Senate chamber.
“Every member of Congress should not be voting to object to this election,” Kensinger said, “because this is nothing short of an attempt to take over the government.”
As of 3 pm ET, the Department of Defense had reportedly denied a request by D.C. officials to deploy the National Guard to the U.S. Capitol — because, Fox News reported, there was concern about the imagery of uniformed U.S. troops stationed at the Capitol building.
Early on in the melee, Fox News’ Martha MacCallum sought to explain what viewers were witnessing with the un-peaceful protest, saying, “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.”
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