TV Newsers on Reporting During the US Capitol Insurrection

By | January 7, 2021

Hundreds of Trump supporters attending the “Stop the Steal” protest rally in Washington over President Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential election loss on Wednesday proceeded to storm the United States Capitol building, moving through barricades, security and even breaking into offices.

Adweek’s TVNewser blog caught up with some of the correspondents who were there at the Capitol reporting on the insurrection to talk about their experiences and how they expect Capitol Hill to change as a result of Wednesday’s events. ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt, MSNBC correspondent Garrett Haake, Telemundo senior Washington correspondent Cristina Londoño, Fox News congressional correspondent Chad Pergram, PBS NewsHour Capitol Hill correspondent Lisa Desjardins and CBS News chief justice correspondent Jeff Pegues provided us with their observations and insights from the ground during what was a historic, chaotic day for America.

What moment from your experience on Wednesday stands out the most to you, and why?

Desjardins: As I walked up to the front door of the Capitol, I saw a horde of people smashing up against the door with no police presence in sight. That moment is going to be hard to forget.

Haake: The most haunting thing I saw on Wednesday were rioters walking through Statuary Hall. I was across the street in the Russell Building, watching on my monitor, and seeing these angry people in that space, just off the floor where we are so used to seeing lawmakers on big nights like the State of the Union was incredibly jarring and disorienting.

clip from nbc news special report of garrett haake at the capitol with a blue mask on
Garrett HaakeNBC News

Hunt: I was live on our special report when I saw pictures on the screen of people who weren’t supposed to be in the Capitol walking toward the door of the House Chamber, and then Haley Talbot, our producer inside, started texting us they were being told to put on gas masks. The space where we were broadcasting from in the Russell Building was never breached or evacuated so I was never in personal danger—so I was worried about Haley’s safety and I also was just in disbelief that not just the Capitol but the actual floor of the House had been breached. It’s unfathomable; I have been at the Capitol dozens of times during protests, some rowdy, and the safest place has always been inside. That sudden sense of vulnerability while inside these walls was chilling.

Londoño: Amid the chaos, as legislators were hiding on the floor or rushing out of their chambers in fear, I met Carmen, who works at a cafeteria inside the Capitol. Emotional and fighting back tears, Carmen said to me that her family had been calling her like crazy before she realized what was going on inside the building. The first thing they said to her was: “We wanted to make sure you didn’t get shot.” Her comment stunned me. When you have a microphone in your hand, eager and ready to do what you need to do to get the story, sometimes you don’t stop and think of the danger. Carmen helped put the human element of yesterday’s events into perspective for me.

Pegues: Just standing on the lawn of the Capitol building, watching people climbing the walls, my first thought was: How did we arrive at this point in this country? Thousands of people thought storming the landmark of democracy was a good idea.

Pergram: I think the thing that I remember the most is seeing the image of the police officer shooting the woman at the edge of the speaker’s lobby, which is a main place where reporters, aides and other staff members just kind of work. Right past that doorway, there’s a transom above the main entrance to the speaker’s lobby on the Democratic side and on the Republican side, too. And as soon as that woman started to scale these glass doors and try to get in over top of the transom, that’s when he fired his weapon because there’s a door that leads right to the chamber. They were almost in the chamber with members in there having just immediately suspended the joint session of Congress.