Fact Check: Infamous January 6 Image Inside The Capitol Was NOT Faked And Staged In Front Of A Green Screen

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Infamous January 6 Image Inside The Capitol Was NOT Faked And Staged In Front Of A Green Screen Photo Prank

Was a green screen used to produce one of the more memorable images of rioters inside the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021 -- with actors posing in another location and superimposed onto still and video images of the riot? No, that's not true: An image circulating online is a photoshopped prank composed of two different images after-the-fact. The central figure in the image with the horned fur Viking hat is Jacob Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli and as the QAnon Shaman. Chansley was photographed and videotaped throughout the day both inside and outside the Capitol building with numerous other people. There is no question that Chansley was inside the Capitol that day. He was arrested on January 9, 2021, and on September 3, 2021 he pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding. On November 17, 2021, he was sentenced to 41 months in prison. On November 30, 2021, after replacing his attorney he filed an appeal in hopes of reversing the guilty plea and prison sentence.

The image with the photoshopped green screen background has been circulating online since shortly after January 6, 2021 (examples here and here). The altered photo recently resurfaced in a post on Facebook on November 29, 2021, with the caption, "Interesting photo...". It was posted without any additional captioning other than the word, "Kek" which is part of the screenshot image.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:


Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Nov 30 18:44:09 2021 UTC)

The word "Kek" in the upper corner is an indication that this meme is a prank. Kek is a slang word originating from 4chan and 8chan messageboards that can mean "LOL" or refer to the Meme God Kek.

The photo of the group of rioters who had entered the capitol building was taken by photojournalist Saul Loeb who described his experience working on assignment in the Capitol building in January 6, 2021, in an interview with rollingstone.com. A collection of Loeb's photos from that day can be found at gettyimages.com.

The photo of the green screen studio was found with a reverse image search. Several websites advertising green screen studio space for rent in the Los Angeles area have used this exact image (here, here, and here) The pipe grid and overhead lights in studio promotional photos match the positioning and angle of the grid in the green screen image photoshopped into Loeb's photo of the rioters inside the Capitol.

The image below shows the two images that were combined to make the green screen meme.


(Image source: Lead Stories composite image with screenshots from Facebook, Newsweek.com and Setscouter.com taken onTue Nov 30 21:00:51 2021 UTC)

After the January 6 Capitol riot, Lead Stories debunked rumors that the people who stormed the Capitol were not Trump supporters, but were Antifacist activists. Another rumor circulated about the tattoo on the hand of the man in the yellow sweatshirt. This green screen meme ties in with another belief shared by QAnon conspiracists was that Joe Biden is not really the president and Oval Office scenes are filmed on a soundstage in California.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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