A man who took part in the Capitol breach on January 6 said this week that his actions weren’t 100 percent his fault. Rather, he said, was influenced into being a part of the violence that day by something his lawyer called “Foxmania,” which resulted in him believing false claims about election fraud in the 2020 election.
Anthony Antonio surrendered to police in April and was charged with five federal crimes related to the January attack, including violent entry and disorderly conduct while in the Capitol, and impeding law enforcement. One video of Antonio’s actions during the day shows him shouting at officers, telling them, “You want war? We got war. 1776 all over again.”
Joseph Hurley, the attorney defending Antonio, claims his client’s actions that day were due to misinformation he received from Fox News. Antonio, who was laid off from work last year due to the pandemic, spent around six months constantly watching the network in the run-up to January 6, Hurley explained.
“He became hooked with what I call ‘Foxitus’ or ‘Foxmania’ and became interested in the political aspect and started believing what was being fed to him,” Hurley explained to a D.C. magistrate judge on Thursday.
Hurley said that his client’s constant watching of Fox News, which regularly aired Trump’s false claims of election fraud in the run-up to January 6, resulted in Antonio’s ardent but errant belief in the election being stolen, which, according to his lawyer, inspired him to come to Washington, D.C., at Trump’s direction, and to take part in the Capitol breach.
Once in D.C., Hurley said, Antonio believed he was following Trump’s orders directly to go to the Capitol and disrupt the congressional certification of the Electoral College.
This reminds me of "affluenza." https://t.co/QzMc8GamYM
— Jonathan "Boo and Vote" Cohn (@JonathanCohn) May 7, 2021
Yet Antonio’s excuse that Fox News bears primary blame for him attacking the Capitol building comes in the same week that another man, charged with voting on behalf of a dead relative, also said his actions occurred because of false information he regularly heard.
Bruce Bartman admitted in court this week that he mailed in an absentee ballot on behalf of his deceased mother in order to cast an extra vote for Trump in Pennsylvania. The registration for his mother was flagged as coming from a person who had died, but Bartman also fraudulently signed a letter attesting that she was alive, investigators discovered.
Bartman, who pleaded guilty to his crimes and received a sentence of five years of probation (during which he is barred from voting for the first four years), also blamed being at home more, due to the pandemic, for why he decided it was necessary to cast an illegal vote. Being stuck at home led him to taking in more media that wrongly influenced him, he said.
“I was isolated last year in lockdown. I listened to too much propaganda and made a stupid mistake,” Bartman said in his apology last Friday.
Six months after the 2020 presidential election took place, and four months after the Capitol breach, most right-leaning Americans still do not accept the outcome of the race, which saw now-President Joe Biden win with 306 Electoral College votes compared to Trump’s 232 (Biden also won the popular vote by more than 7 million votes).
According to a CNN/SSRS poll published in late April, 65 percent of Americans believe that Biden’s win was legitimate. But among Republican respondents in the poll, only 23 percent believe Biden was the rightful winner, with 70 percent saying he was not.
While the pseudo-medical terms expressed by Hurley are by no means demonstratively real, conservative voters, particularly those who consume right-wing media like Fox News, are indeed more likely to believe false notions of the election. A Civiqs/Daily Kos poll conducted in December asked viewers of that network whether they accepted the outcome of the presidential election, with only 18 percent of “frequent” Fox News viewers saying they did.
That same poll seemed to suggest that less consumption of conservative media resulted in higher rates of accepting the true election results. Among those who described themselves as “occasional” viewers of Fox News, 43 percent said they accepted that Biden had won the race, a number that’s more than twice as high as those who were frequent watchers of the network.