The Storming Of The Capitol On Television News: Was It A "Protest," "Riot" Or "Treason?"


How did television news cover the storming of the U.S. Capitol? The graph below uses data from the Internet Archive's Television News Archive to count how many seconds of airtime Jan. 6-7 the onscreen text of BBC News London, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News contained the words sedition, insurrection, coup, mob, protest, riot, treason, violent or Black Lives Matter.


On BBC the breach was largely a "violent" "protest" with "riot" and "mob" appearing periodically as well. On CNN it was a "riot" and a "mob" but also an "insurrection" and a "coup." MSNBC saw it as a "mob," "violent," "riot" and "protest" while also describing it as an attempted "coup." Fox News largely described it as a "protest," a "riot" and "violent." Fox also invoked earlier Black Lives Matter protests in its coverage, as did CNN and MSNBC to a lesser extent.


In terms of spoken mentions, Fox News rarely referred to it as an attempted "coup," "insurrection," "sedition" or "treason," while Russia Today noticeably invoked the Black Lives Matter protests more than the others.

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