As the United States continued to reel from the January 6 2021 Capitol riots, an east Texas newspaper became the center of a related side story after it was caught repeating a debunked right-wing conspiracy theory surrounding the attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing United States President Donald Trump.
Jason Abbruzzese, a senior editor for NBC News, posted the photograph from the print edition of the Tyler Morning Telegraph, which was captioned:
Members of antifa dressed as supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in Washington.
“You might want to check your photo captions,” Abbruzzese wrote.
The photograph, which is credited to the Associated Press, was attached to an AP story about social media platforms Facebook and Instagram barring Trump’s access to his platform in the wake of the attack, which caused the deaths of five people as of press time. The photo does not appear in the newspaper’s online edition.
We contacted Associated Press for comment; the organization confirmed that it was their image, but they did not comment on the newspaper’s creative edit. According to the wire service’s website, the actual caption for Jose Luis Magana’s photograph reads:
Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
We contacted both the Telegraph newsroom and publisher Justin Wilcox, who is also listed as the chief revenue officer for the newspaper’s parent company, M. Roberts Media. Neither has responded. However, the newspaper did post a correction saying:
The Tyler Morning Telegraph is aware of an incorrect cutline on an Associated Press photo in our print edition on Jan. 8, 2021 on page A8 where we incorrectly identified protesters as members of Antifa.
This was inserted by one person and does not represent the views or opinions of the Tyler Morning Telegraph.
The error has been corrected in every place that we can correct it and we will run a correction in print.
Right-wing media outlets and lawmakers loyal to Trump — who incited the attempted coup at a rally near the Capitol — have attempted to deflect criticism of their supporters’ attack by invoking “antifa” as a boogeyman to blame for the violent mob. For instance, the Washington Times posted an article alleging that the company XRVision claimed that “Antifa infiltrated” the building based on XRVision’s facial recognition technology.
However the piece was soon deleted after the company debunked the allegation and demanded a retraction. According to one report:
An attorney representing XRVision, which says it was founded in 2015 in Singapore, issued a statement to BuzzFeed News refuting the Washington Times story. The statement said XRVision’s software actually identified two members of neo-Nazi organizations and a QAnon supporter among the pro-Trump mob — not antifa members.
The claim that anti-fascists were involved in the attack was further debunked by FBI Assistant Director Steven D’Antuono.
“We have no indication of that, at this time,” D’Antuono said in a press briefing.
Update January 8 2021, 9:04 p.m. PST:Updated with a correction from the newspaper.