FACT CHECK: Did NPR Publish A Headline About The Capitol Riot Before It Occurred?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims National Public Radio (NPR) published a headline about Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol before the incident occurred.

Verdict: False

While the article was originally published at 9:33 a.m., its headline did not mention rioters storming the Capitol before the incident took place. Archived versions of the article show the story and headline were updated throughout the day, including later in the day to reflect the Capitol riot, as the events took place.

Fact Check: 

Rioters supporting President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to CNN. (RELATED: Viral Post Claims To Show ‘Photographic Evidence’ That The Rioter Pictured Is An Antifa Member)

Facebook users have since been sharing a screen grab of an NPR article, currently titled “Trump Supporters Storm U.S. Capitol, Clash With Police,” with a red arrow pointing to the 9:33 a.m. time stamp beneath the headline. The captions of such posts use the screen grab in an attempt to baselessly suggest that the Capitol riot was staged or a “false flag” attack.

While NPR did originally publish the article at 9:33 a.m. on Jan. 6, it did not bear the headline shown in the screen grabs at that time. The article’s URL shows that the original headline did not mention Trump supporters storming the Capitol. The story was later updated to include information about the Capitol riot, as evidenced by the line “Updated 3:08 p.m. EST” and archived versions of the article on the Wayback Machine.

A version of the article archived on the Wayback Machine around 10:10 a.m. EST shows the page reads “Congress’ Electoral College Tally: Live Updates” and “Diehard Trump Supporters Gather In the Nation’s Capital To Protest Election Results.” Another version archived around 1:15 p.m. EST on Jan. 6 reads “‘We Are Patriots’: Trump Supporters Gather In D.C. To Protest Biden’s Win.”

Ben Fishel, an NPR spokesperson, confirmed to Check Your Fact via email that the “original story was posted at 9:33am and the title and text was updated throughout the day,” adding, “I can confirm that NPR is neither clairvoyant nor were we a part of a (false) conspiracy of people who staged the events of Wednesday.”

Check Your Fact has debunked multiple claims related to the Capitol riot, including ones falsely alleging that people pictured at the Capitol during the riot are part of antifa. Evidence-less claims that people filmed and photographed breaking into the Capitol with pro-Trump flags and clothing were antifa activists started circulating widely on Jan. 6, NBC News reported.

Congress reconvened after the riot to resume the certification process and finalized President-elect Joe Biden’s win early Jan. 7, Politico reported. Biden received 306 electoral votes, while Trump received 232, according to the National Archives.

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
Follow Elias on Twitter Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected].