Fox News made me do it: Capitol attack suspect pulls ‘Foxitis’ defense | US Capitol breach

The lawyer for a Delaware man charged over the Capitol attack in January is floating a unique defense: Fox News made him do it.

Anthony Antonio, who is facing five charges including violent entry, disorderly conduct and impeding law enforcement during civil disorder, fell prey to the persistent lies about the so-called “stolen election” being spread daily by Donald Trump and the rightwing network that served him, his attorney Joseph Hurley said during a video hearing on Thursday.

Antonio spent the six months before the riots mainlining Fox News while unemployed, Hurley said, likening the side effects of such a steady diet of misinformation to a mental health syndrome.

“Fox television played constantly,” he said. “He became hooked with what I call ‘Foxitis’ or ‘Foxmania’, and became interested in the political aspect and started believing what was being fed to him.”

Antonio’s segment was somehow only the second most notable part of the hearing. Another defendant shouted obscenities, sending the proceedings into near chaos at one point.

Hurley’s argument calls to mind the infamous “the devil made me do it” defense, although you might argue the devil has nothing on the prolific manipulators at Fox News. And while there is certainly an element of believability to the harmful nature of persistent rightwing propaganda effectively manipulating a person’s ability to distinguish fact from reality – I’ve written here and in my newsletter about something I only half-jokingly refer to as “Fox News brain cancer”, something like a shared psychotic disorder that slowly sucks the life out of people and ruins their ability to connect with their families – it remains to be seen whether or not there is any legal merit to such a claim. Legal experts I’ve talked to certainly don’t think so.

Multiple videos obtained by the FBI from the day of the riot appear to show Antonio as especially active in the chaos. He is seen wearing a bulletproof vest featuring a patch of the anti-government extremist group the Three Percenters. At one point in video footage he can be seen shouting at officers: “You want war? We got war. 1776 all over again.” It was a revolutionary sentiment spread by the radical rightwing congresswoman Lauren Boebert and others on the day.

Elsewhere, Antonio is seen with a riot shield that appeared to be stolen from law enforcement, squirting water on an officer being dragged into a crowd, stealing one’s gas mask, and jumping through a broken window into the Capitol.

Fox News has continued to spread misinformation about what happened that day.

The network is being sued for billions of dollars by two voting machine companies, Smartmatic and Dominion, for spreading lies about their role in the “theft” of the election.

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