Members of a production team for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” were arrested by police earlier this week while filming a comedy segment in the US Capitol, in an incident used by prominent right-wing voices to further the investigation into the Jan. revolt.
US Capitol Police said in a statement Friday that officers observed “seven individuals, unaccompanied and without Congressional ID, in a sixth-floor hallway” at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington.
“The building was closed to visitors and these individuals were determined to be part of a group ordered by the USCP to vacate the building earlier in the day,” the statement said.
The Capitol Police Department said the individuals were charged with unlawful entry, adding that the case is considered “an active criminal investigation” and that “after consultation with the U.S. Attorney, it may lead to additional criminal charges.”
CBS said in a statement that the crew was on the scene at the Capitol on Wednesday and Thursday while filming a segment featuring “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog,” a doll voiced by comedian Robert Smigel. CBS said the production team’s interviews with members of Congress were “authorized and prearranged.”
The network said that after the interviews ended on Thursday, the production team “continued to film stand-ups and other final comedic elements in the halls as they were detained by Capitol Police.”
The incident, which comes as the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol is holding public hearings, was used by prominent right-wing media stars to attack the bipartisan probe.
On Fox News, the channel’s primetime hosts used the development to link Democrats to the security breach.
Most of the attacks have focused on Representative Adam Schiff, who has been portrayed as a top villain in right-wing media in recent years. The California Democrat, a member of the Jan. 6 committee and chairman of the House Intelligence panel, took part in an interview with the Colbert crew about 10 a.m. Thursday morning, an employee of his office told DailyExpertNews. Schiff’s interview with the Colbert team was many hours before the crew was detained.
While Fox News reporter Chad Pergram tweeted That it was someone other than a member of Schiff’s office who let the crew into the Longworth Building later in the day, the network repeatedly attacked the congressman, with hosts telling their millions of viewers that he had played a pivotal role in the case.
For example, Fox News host Jesse Watters had a chyron on Friday that read, “SCHIFF INVOLVED IN CAPITOL BREAK.”
Later in the evening, Tucker Carlson, who has repeatedly mocked the claim that a January 6 riot took place and promoted conspiracy theories about the day’s events, claimed the crew “revolted.”
“It’s exactly the same as what happened on January 6, so we’ll be looking closely at the penalties,” Carlson said.
Graphics on the screen during Carlson’s coverage read “PENCIL-NECK SCHIFF ASSISTED COLBERT INSURRECTION” and “COLBERT PRODUCERS BREAK INTO THE CAPITOL.”
Fox News continued to aggressively cover the story on Saturday morning.
“We need to get to the bottom of it,” presenter Rachel Campos-Duffy said on Fox & Friends Weekend.
Elsewhere in right-wing media, the coverage was similar. For example, the main headline of Breitbart’s homepage read: “UNLAWFUL ACCESS! REVOLT? STEPHEN COLBERT STAFFERS ARRESTED FOR VIOLATION OF US CAPITOL.”
It’s not clear when the filmed segment will air on “The Late Show.”
A CBS spokesperson declined to answer further questions about the incident. Colbert has also not yet commented on the matter.