Reporters and anchors described scenes of chaos and fear, questioning how security and the nation’s leaders did not anticipate it.
“This is very, very embarrassing for the United States of America,” said CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
Television networks had gathered to watch the congressional debate on the election, but their cameras quickly turned to ominous scenes outside the building as a crowd that had heard an angry speech from Trump marched into the building.
When protesters climbed steps and entered the Capitol, it quickly spiraled out of control.
“The mob has gone through the process of trying to certify the electoral college,” said Fox News Channel reporter Chad Pergram.
“Security here at the United States Capitol has failed.”
“How were you not prepared for this?” Katy Tur of NBC News said.
“That’s not Ukraine, that’s not Belarus,” ABC host George Stephanopoulos said as footage of people pounding on the door of the US Capitol was played.
Some presenters were quick to blame: CNN’s Jake Tapper said it was violence incited by Trump, his supporters and leaders of the Congressional effort to challenge the electoral college vote, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri.
“It’s an absolutely embarrassing moment in American history and there are specific villains,” Tapper said.
CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell conducted an extraordinary interview with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, pressing him on whether he had urged Trump to do something to stop his supporters and confronting him on whether false claims of voter fraud widespread had led to it. .
“Why has everyone fled the Capitol?” O’Donnell asked him.
Earlier in the day, the deep divisions of the nation were evident in the media.
Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and One America News Network broadcast the president’s speech live outside the Capitol, even as the debate began inside the Capitol.
Meanwhile, CNN and MSNBC ignored Trump’s words.
Inside the riots in the US Capitol