Speed Reads

one year later

The Capitol riot's 'shifting sense of blame'

It's almost the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and Americans are still at odds over how to describe what happened that fateful winter day, according to a new poll from PBS NewsHour, NPR, and Marist.

While 49 percent of those surveyed characterize the events of Jan. 6 as an insurrection and a threat to democracy, 25 percent said they view the day as a "political protest protected under the First Amendment," per PBS. Another 19 percent said they consider the riot to be an "unfortunate event," but ultimately something that should be left in the past.

That there's no "common language" around what happened that day speaks to the country's "continued disconnect," argues Marist poll director Barbara Cavalho. 

And when it comes to who is to blame for the Capitol attack, the percentage of Americans who fault former President Donald Trump has actually "softened" since last January, PBS writes. The day after the attack, 63 percent of respondents said Trump was to blame; according to the new poll, now just 53 percent said they place "a good amount of blame" on the ex-president, per PBS.

"That shifting sense of blame is consistent with the narrative around Jan. 6 being recast by political opportunists as protected speech," PBS writes, per Mary McCord, former acting assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice, who added that the Jan. 6 attack is "unparalleled" in modern history. 

"This is all part of building up an opportunity for Trump to run again," McCord said. "Those who might have had one view right after Jan. 6 about him, clearly there's not an insignificant number of people who changed that view."

PBS NewsHour, NPR, and Marist surveyed 1,400 adults from Dec. 11 to Dec. 13, 2021. Results have a margin of error of 4 percentage points. See more results at PBS.