The Capitol insurrection didn’t come out of thin air: It was a result of rage and a web of delusion that many supporters of President Donald Trump are entangled in.
“A web of delusion had real life consequences on Wednesday and it will continue to have real-life consequences,” CNN’s Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter said on “Reliable Sources” Sunday.
A large number of Trump followers cleaved to misinformation they were fed by the president, right-wing media and social media platforms. That led some to believe the most extreme creed imaginable: that Trump was “an agent of God,” reported The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, who spoke to Trump supporters ahead of the Capitol siege on January 6.
“Many people I talked to were completely untethered from observable reality,” Goldberg told Stelter Sunday.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg of delusions that created a deluge of chaos in Washington last week.
Far-right Trump supporters often live in alternative information ecosystems, sharing and recycling false information from unreliable sources, from QAnon conspiracy theories to conversations surrounding “Stop the Steal” – the false belief that Trump won the 2020 election. Many of those misinformed people are discussing further action based on those lies.
Trump’s false claims of election fraud, perpetuated by hundreds of Republican politicians and the right-wing media machine, primed the rioters with lies and conspiracy theories. That helped fuel that web of delusion that led to the Capitol riots last week, Stelter said. Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Maria Bartiromo and many others have enabled, encouraged and spread that misinformation, noted CNN Business’ Oliver Darcy.
Traditional media outlets are struggling to find the words to cover the chaos.
“Part of the reason that [Trump has] continued to go on and succeed is because the unthinkable becoming reality is actually very hard to cover,” Susan Glasser, New Yorker staff writer told Stelter. “The novelty of this movement – domestically – really caught us on the back foot. We need to almost be like foreign correspondents in our own Capitol at a certain point.”