As a mob swarmed the Capitol building on Wednesday, images and videos of the event spread across social media in close to real time, many going viral on Twitter and Facebook before cable news networks covering the events could verify or report them. One video showed a group of rioters surrounding a pile of Associated Press equipment, trying to burn or damage it. “We are the news now,” they shouted. Many in the circle were capturing the moment with cellphones.
“It’s a term or a phrase we’ve heard from QAnon supporters for a while now,” said Sharon Kann, research director at Media Matters for America, referring to the adherents of a sprawling conspiracy theory that has come to believe Donald Trump is waging a war against the forces of darkness, or Satan himself. And it means, she said, that they mistrust expertise and particularly reporting.