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Here’s what reporting on the Capitol rioting was like for journalists who were there


Reporters, producers and photojournalists were our eyes and ears on Wednesday — showing the world what was happening as a group of Trump supporters mobbed the US Capitol.

Here’s what some CNN journalists had to say about what it was like on the Hill.

Alex Marquardt, senior national security correspondent

I knew we were walking into a hostile crowd, but I had no idea how bad it would get. We arrived just moments before the rioters broke through the police line and stormed the building. To watch them scaling the walls with not a single law enforcement officer in sight was simply surreal. I’ve seen parliaments stormed, coups carried out and violent mobs attack journalists in other countries; to see it and to have it happen to me two miles from my house in my own country was just extraordinary.

Jeremy Moorhead, CNN digital politics producer

Our team approached the west front of the Capitol after marching with Trump supporters down Constitution Avenue. When we arrived at the metal fences, I saw little to no law enforcement on the west front lawn. The metal barricades around the Capitol were pushed down. After 18 years covering many, many peaceful protests for CNN, I knew this was not going to be one of those.

Kristin Wilson, senior Capitol Hill producer

You’re in complete contrast with yourself. You feel paralyzed but are moving. You’re frantically trying to report out what’s happening but you’re desperately trying to find out where your colleagues are, if everyone is safe. It’s dead silent and deafeningly loud, hiding behind a door that they are trying to break down. Not sure what you will do if they make it through — fight or surrender.

One other thing that I think speaks for all of us on the Hill team. We go to work every day assuming we are in the second safest place in America, after the White House. That myth was shattered.

Lauren Fox, congressional reporter

I was in the Senate Russell building. I’d gone over for a hit when I started getting pinged by staffers who were being cleared out of some House office buildings. Sometimes that happens, but when I went downstairs to go back into the Capitol building, I was blocked. Everyone was saying we should try to shelter in an office, but I couldn’t get to mine. I’m on crutches right now so my mind was kind of spinning about what I was going to do if people started coming my way.

I think I speak for everyone who works on the Hill when I say, you tell yourself all the time you work in one of the safest buildings in the world. Then you see a picture of some guy you’ve never seen before standing in the presiding officer’s chair of the United States Senate. It was horrifying.

Nikki Carvajal, White House producer

I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot, but yesterday was totally surreal. I was on the mall, and watching an angry mob hang Trump flags on the Capitol is probably the most bizarre thing I’ve ever witnessed.

I wouldn’t say I felt much during our coverage. I had to be hyper focused on work and being aware of our surroundings because it was pretty dangerous at times. I covered a lot of MAGA rallies during the campaign and it was basically the same type of crowd. Most of them hate the media and in particular CNN. We had security, but as the Capitol Police can tell you there’s not much you can do when you’re that outnumbered. So there was a lot of adrenaline.

Ultimately, my team got lucky. Other field crews and particularly those in the building had it way worse than we did.

It wasn’t until I was walking home that I was really able to think about what I’d just witnessed, and it just made me feel so sad. I was sad for my city and sad for my country. I mean, I jog through there and it felt almost like a war zone. When I moved to DC I was so stunned by the beauty of the Capitol building. I still am at times. I can’t imagine any American of any party seeing that and wanting to destroy it.

Brian Todd, correspondent

I’ve covered a lot of riots, hurricanes, wildfires and mass shootings, and have never seen anything like what we witnessed on Wednesday. What stood out to my colleagues and I was the sheer chaos, and the fact that we were all waiting so long — several hours — for law enforcement to flood the zone, and it just didn’t come. When it did arrive it was too late. The rioters had won the day, and they were crowing about it. I heard one of them yell at police, “You didn’t take it back. We gave it back!”

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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