Members of a production crew for ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ were arrested by police earlier this week while filming a comedy segment at the United States Capitol, in an incident that was used by prominent right-wing voices to attack the investigation into the January 6 Uprising.
United States Capitol Police said in a statement Friday that at approximately 8:30 p.m. Thursday, officers “observed seven people, unescorted and without congressional ID, in a sixth-floor hallway” in 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 that had been ordered by the USCP to vacate the building earlier in the day,” the statement said.
Capitol Police said the individuals were charged with unlawful entry, adding that the case was considered “an active criminal investigation” and “may result in additional criminal charges following consultation with the U.S. Attorney.”
CBS said in a statement that its team was on hand at the Capitol on Wednesday and Thursday as they filmed a segment featuring “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog,” a puppet voiced by comedian Robert Smigel. CBS said its production team’s interviews with members of Congress were “authorized and pre-arranged.”
The network said that after interviews ended Thursday, the production crew “remained to film stand-ups and other final comedy elements in the hallways when detained by Capitol police.” .
The incident, which comes as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol holds public hearings, has been used by prominent right-wing media stars to attack the bipartisan investigation.
On Fox News, the channel’s prime-time hosts used the development to tie Democrats to the security breach.
Most of the attacks have focused on Rep. Adam Schiff, who in recent years has been portrayed as a top villain in the right-wing media. The California Democrat, a Jan. 6 committee member and chairman of the House Intelligence panel, took part in an interview with Colbert’s team around 10 a.m. Thursday morning, an aide in his office told CNN. Schiff’s interview with Team Colbert took place several 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 that day, the network repeatedly attacked the congressman, with the hosts saying to their millions of viewers that he had played a crucial role in the case.
Fox News host Jesse Watters posted a chyron, for example, on Friday that read, “SCHIFF INVOLVED IN CAPITOL BREACH.”
Later that evening, Tucker Carlson, who repeatedly mocked the claim that an insurrection took place on January 6 and promoted conspiracy theories about the events of that day, claimed that the crew had “committed an insurrection”.
“It’s exactly like what happened on January 6, so we’ll be looking closely at the sanctions,” Carlson said.
On-screen graphics during Carlson’s coverage read “PENCIL-NECK SCHIFF ASSISTED COLBERT UPRISING” and “COLBERT PRODUCERS SIGN UP IN CAPITOL”.
Fox News was still covering the story aggressively on Saturday morning.
“We have to get to the bottom of it,” host Rachel Campos-Duffy said on “Fox & Friends Weekend.”
Elsewhere in the right-wing media, coverage was similar. The main headline of Breitbart’s homepage, for example, read: “ILLEGAL ENTRY! INSURRECTION? STEPHEN COLBERT PERSONNEL ARRESTED FOR BREACHING UNITED STATES CAPITOL.
It’s unclear when the filmed segment could air on “The Late Show.”
A CBS spokesperson declined to answer further questions about the incident. Colbert has not yet commented on the case.