Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Attorney: Accused Capitol rioter had ‘Foxitis’

-

In the six months leading up to the insurrecti­on at the U.S. Capitol, Anthony Antonio spent his days watching Fox News — a habit that actually made him ill, his attorney told a D.C. federal magistrate judge on Thursday.

His ailment? “Foxitis,” his attorney said, the HuffPost reported. “He became hooked with what I call ... ‘Foxmania.’ ”

In the virtual hearing, which went awry when another alleged Capitol rioter interrupte­d with obscenitie­s, Antonio’s attorney, Joseph Hurley, claimed that Fox News’s decision to regularly air then-President Donald Trump’s false claims of mass election fraud contribute­d to Antonio’s decision to participat­e in the insurrecti­on.

Antonio “started believing what was being fed to him,” Hurley said, according to HuffPost.

Critics have targeted

Fox for giving a platform for Trump and his allies to elevate baseless claims about the election, many of which were later echoed by Trump supporters who invaded the Capitol. Fox News also faces billiondol­lar lawsuits from voting technology companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, which allege the network knowingly aired false claims that the voting machines were rigged.

Fox News did not immediatel­y respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post on Hurley’s claims.

Antonio, 27, who turned himself in to police on April 20, is charged with unlawful and violent entry of the Capitol, police obstructio­n and destructio­n of government property, according to an arrest warrant.

During his hearing Thursday, Hurley told U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweathe­r that Antonio had lost his job thanks to the pandemic and moved in with new roommates in Chicago. It was only then that he began watching Fox News religiousl­y, according to Hurley, because his roommates frequently watched the network.

Antonio’s hearing grew increasing­ly chaotic Thursday when another alleged rioter, who was waiting for his own hearing, interjecte­d repeatedly and spoke over Hurley. Landon Copeland, 33, who is charged with several federal offenses including assaulting officers and throwing a metal fence at law enforcemen­t, went on several obscene and belligeren­t tirades.

When Hurley mentioned “Foxitis,” Copeland yelled, “I object.”

The Utah native later said, “F--- all of you,” “I don’t like you people” and “You can’t come get me if I don’t want you to,” according to the Daily Beast. The judge ordered Copeland evaluated for mental competency.

Antonio’s case includes footage from Jan. 6 that showed him wearing a bulletproo­f vest with a patch representi­ng the Three Percenters, an antigovern­ment extremist group, prosecutor­s said. He is seen shouting at officers holding off the crowd: “You want war? We got war. 1776 all over again,” according to an affidavit.

Law enforcemen­t bodycamera footage showed Antonio getting close to an officer and telling him: “I’ll be honest, this isn’t against you personally. This is against our country,” according to the affidavit.

“We will not back down,” he added.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States