Misleading Headline of the Day

Demonstrators once again breached Hill security.

WTTG Fox 5 DC (“Hundreds arrested after Pro-Palestinian demonstrators flood Cannon Rotunda, Capitol complex“):

Hundreds were arrested Wednesday after pro-Palestinian protests broke out on Capitol Hill, with demonstrators flooding into the Cannon House Office Building and large crowds gathering with flags and signs around the Capitol complex.

The Cannon House Office Building holds several House Committee and congressional offices. By 2:30 p.m., its rotunda was full of protestors singing and chanting “ceasefire now” and “free Palestine.”

U.S. Capitol Police put out an alert about the demonstrations, saying the activity was not allowed inside Congressional buildings. They worked for hours to clear the crowd that had grown inside. Police say they arrested about 300 people in total.

The detained protesters were lined up outside the building and shuttled to a temporary holding area in the Capitol complex. Capitol Police say demonstrators inside the Cannon Rotunda will be charged with illegally protesting inside a House Office Building.

They say among the arrests, three people were charged with assault on a police officer during processing.

USCP monitored the situation as more protesters gathered around the House side of the Capitol Complex through the afternoon and evening hours. For safety, they set up temporary rolling road closures and only allowed Capitol staff and employees to enter and exit in certain areas.

The protest began on the National Mall around noon and eventually made its way to the Cannon building, which is situated at Independence Ave. and New Jersey Ave. adjacent to the Capitol building.

I was pointed to the story by memeorandum and, among my first thoughts upon reading it was, “Well, I guess we now have the answer to the question ‘What would have happened if brown people stormed the Capitol.'” (See here, here, here, here, and here for context.)

But, as I searched for images to support the post, I noted that only Fox affiliates, the Daily Mail, and other somewhat suspect sites covered the story. I then stumbled on a TNR report headlined (“‘Not in Our Name’: Jewish Activists Take Over Capitol to Demand Ceasefire in Gaza“) and, checking the date, was shocked that two protests on the same day managed to breach Hill security.

But, of course, there weren’t. You had to get down to paragraph 8 of the WTTG report to get to this:

Fencing went up overnight around parts of the U.S. Capitol ahead of the protest organized by the group Jewish Voice for Peace but the demonstrators were able to work their way into the building and by 3 p.m., it was packed with JVP members in black t-shirts reading “Jews say ceasefire now!”

JVP claimed on social media that at least 10,000 people were outside the Capitol while 500 made their way inside the rotunda, all there to “challenge the Israeli government’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.” 

Now, I suppose one can fairly characterize an organization describing itself as “the largest progressive Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the world” and which claims to be “organizing a grassroots, multiracial, cross-class, intergenerational movement of U.S. Jews into solidarity with Palestinian freedom struggle” as pro-Palestinian. But it seems rather clear that the headline writer was trying to create a different image of the protesters than the reality on the ground.

Indeed, while it used a similar headline, the main Fox News site at least made it clear in their second and third paragraphs:

Footage from inside the Cannon Office Building showed a large group chanting “Ceasefire Now!” and calling for Congress to demand the fighting stop in Israel. The protesters were spotted wearing black T-shirts reading, “Jews Say Ceasefire Now!”

The group Jewish Voice for Peace said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that “over 350″ demonstrators,” including two dozen rabbis, were inside the large rotunda while thousands of others protested outside.

Alas, we still don’t know for sure what would have happened if they had been people of color.

FILED UNDER: Media, Race and Politics, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. MarkedMan says:

    This is an example of why I think the attitude of “I read a variety of sources to stay informed” is often misguided, because all too often people don’t discriminate between propaganda outlets like Fox and legitimate news sources. Fox, Reason Magazine, Wall Street Journal editorial section and the like are actively seeking to lie to you, and they are good at it. To me, once a “news source” has shown an intent to deceive, it actually makes me stupider to follow them.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: I’ve got subscriptions to NYT, WaPo, WSJ, and the Economist among others but also use a variety of aggregators (GoogleNews, YahooNews, and memeorandum) to keep up with sources I don’t directly follow. Oddly, the major city local news networks—even the Fox affiliates—don’t usually strike me as skewed. But this particular story clearly was.

  3. JKB says:

    @James Joyner:

    That odd, the NY Times has a long history of intent to deceive. Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize winning deceptions for the NY Times are very well documented.

    As this historian says of British media is true of American media as well. What they choose to promote in their daily shaping of the opinion is less revealing than what they ignore in the world.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    What they choose to promote in their daily shaping of the opinion is less revealing than what they ignore in the world.

    The same can be said of people.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: FWIW I think the WSJ news section still has integrity, I was specifically referring to their editorial page. And I’m not a good judge of any of the TV news shows. I haven’t watched any TV news since I was in college, after I realized it was essentially people in suits reading just the headlines from the newspapers and wire services and that they wouldn’t spend their own resources on a story unless it had “great visuals”, usually involving car wrecks or fires. The only exception to this was the Macneil Lehrer News Hour in my 20’s, and I actually ran it through my stereo system and listened to it rather than watched it.

    I know someone who works in a technical capacity at one of the most conservative television corporations in the US, controlling well over a hundred stations, mostly Fox affiliates. From what he says, even though the billionaire owner is as repulsively racist and conservative as you could imagine, the station management have almost total control over what is aired. After all, you can’t hold someone accountable for making their numbers if they don’t control the product. When he worked in the engineering department of the Fox affiliate in a moderately sized and fairly liberal city in the Northeast and they were given a “must play”, i.e. the conservative hogwash “news” special reports produced to please the billionaire, they scheduled them between 1 and 4am.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    @JKB: JKB, back when I would read your screeds, you cited the most garbage “news sources” imaginable. Truly laughable partisan hacks and conspiracy loons. So the worth of your opinions on the validity of media are weighted according to that.

    (This is what I get for scrolling up after I post something and reading comments in reverse. I often don’t see the byline for short comments until I’ve read the comment itself.)

  7. James Joyner says:

    @JKB: Do you ever have examples from this century? Duranty won his Pulitzer in 1932.

  8. Matt Bernius says:


    As this historian says of British media is true of American media as well. What they choose to promote in their daily shaping of the opinion is less revealing than what they ignore in the world.

    Thanks for the link. As someone interested in historical analysis and critique of media, I clicked through to learn more about this historian, whose name is Simon Webb.

    Man, he’s totally on-brand for you as usual.

    He doesn’t disclose his academic background, and as far as I can tell proudly proclaims himself as “self taught” (so isn’t one of those icky academics*). His entire think on YouTube is “History Debunked” (so he’s promising to go against the narratives those liberal-leaning mushhead academics have been indoctrinating us with).

    Then we get to his videos: https://www.youtube.com/@HistoryDebunkedsimonwebb/videos

    Woof. So he doesn’t seem to believe in climate change, looks like he has issues with trans folks, and thinks multiculturalism is killing the UK. He’s upset by a Black Miss Ireland (because there never would be a White Miss Nigeria). He is pro-modern Russel Brand (or at least thinks the UK government is trying to destroy him). He really seems to have an issue with Immigrants and hey… issues with Black People again. And other indiginous groups… huh… Oh, also the first Africans were apparently White and then Black slavers invaded. Cool. Cool.

    Wow, lots of posts taking issue with Black People… Lots and lots of them.

    Yeah… totally on point for you. Great find as usual.

    * – BTW, I don’t want to cast shame on popular historians or people writing histories who don’t have PhDs (or even MAs). There are lots of great examples of those folks. I’m just not convinced by the materials on his website (and the few reviews of his books that I found) that Mr. Webb is one. And looking at the comments on his YouTube videos, the vocal audience he seems to attract doesn’t really fill me with a lot of great feelings. Also it’s worth reading the difference between his approach to advocacy writing on a topic versus a more classically trained historian.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Matt Bernius: Heh. How unfair of you.

  10. Franklin says:

    @JKB: Cherry pick much?

  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    If you want something more recent, how about the NYT’s blatantly anti-trans slant (which frankly seems like it’s just a continuation of their blatantly anti-queer slant from the 80s):


  12. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner: I’ve got two examples off the top of my head:

    First, the build up to the post-9/11 Iraq War, where The NY Times was happy to run stories with a single anonymous source in the Bush administration because they were being told what they wanted to hear. But, you might consider that just absolutely terrible reporting, rather than an intent to deceive.

    Second, the very recent reporting on trans kids, which has been amazingly one-sided and pursuing a very clear, anti-trans agenda. From basing a major story on the claims of a disgruntled receptionist who had a spreadsheet of which kids she thought weren’t trans enough to get medical care, to never putting the medical regret rate into perspective. to interviews with the families of the tiny number of kids who regret care rather than far the larger number who don’t — it’s a very clear agenda.

    I want to put Clinton’s emails vs. Trump’s everything in there, but the usual explanation is that they did only superficial reporting on Trump’s many scandals because they thought he couldn’t possible win and it thus wasn’t important, and so focused on what would affect everyone going forward. Alas, The NY Times is one of the papers that sets the agenda for mainstream reporting across the country.

    ETA: it’s a shame, because NY Times also does some truly excellent reporting. Alas, you never know what you’re getting.

  13. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: zerohedge is a fine news source, so long as you skip the articles about lawn maintenance, where they have a clear bias against hedges.

    The hedge is a shrub with the aspirations of a tree or a fence. It is attempting to get above its station.

    — von Mises, Groundskeeping, 1903

  14. just nutha says:

    @Franklin: Ever NOT cherry pick may be more to the point as a question.