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How News Media is Describing the Incident at the U.S. Capitol

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How news media is describing the capitol incident

How Media Outlets Describe the Incident at the U.S. Capitol

Was it a riot? An insurrection? Or was it simply a protest?

The January 6, 2021 incident at the U.S. Capitol was widely covered in news media—however, the type of language used to describe it varied greatly from publication to publication.

Popular news media has a major impact on how society at large perceives major events. To learn more about the language used in recent coverage, we analyzed over 180 articles from Alexa’s top-ranked news websites in the United States. Here’s what we found.

Most Common Descriptions: The Event

From riot to rampage, descriptions used by news media of the incident at the U.S. Capitol were all over the map:

↓ Event descriptorYahooCNNNYTFoxWaPoBreitbartEpoch TimesBBCBI
Riot69910993107
Storm97665710108
Breach4633221331
Siege6177154
Attack31613433
Insurrection331117
Assault511111
Rampage113111
Invasion131
Unrest1211

The most commonly used description was riot, followed by storm. On the other end of the spectrum were the less-frequent terms such as insurrection, assault, rampage, and invasion.

Interestingly, Yahoo News, Business Insider, and BBC used siege, attack, and insurrection more often as compared to Breitbart, Epoch Times, and Fox News. The Epoch Times also described the event as a breach more times than any other outlet.

Most Common Descriptions: The Participants

The participants in the incident were identified in various ways, reflecting the variation seen in describing the incident.

↓ ParticipantsYahooCNNNYTFoxWaPoBreitbartEpoch TimesBBCBI
Mob1281268811
Rioters699763454
Protesters12871351
Trump supporters3322351
Pro-Trump mob21117
Pro-Trump rioters325
Insurrectionists2113
Demonstrators1311
Participants2
Extremists3

In alignment with the usage of riot, the most common descriptions for participants were mob and rioters, followed by protesters. The frequency of use of Trump supporters comes as no surprise, especially since many of the participants are known to have attended the ‘Stop the Steal’ Trump rally preceding the event.

While most outlets referred to the crowd as protesters in the events leading up to the storming of the Capitol building, not all used that term to describe the people who entered the Capitol building. Fox News, Breitbart, and Epoch Times used protesters more often than any other news media outlet. In fact, these three outlets account for 28 of the 37 news articles in which the term protesters appeared.

On the other hand, the term pro-Trump rioters—which was used by Yahoo News, Business Insider, and CNN—did not appear in any articles by Fox News, Breitbart, or Epoch Times.

Tonal Differences

While some media outlets stuck to relatively neutral descriptors, others used unconventional terms to describe both the incident as well as those involved.

The New York Times and the Washington Post, for example, generally adhered to neutral language. They frequently described the event as a siege and a riot, and those involved as the mob and rioters.

U.S. Capitol Incident

The Epoch Times and Breitbart employed terms like protesters and alleged Trump supporters in discussing the individuals involved.

U.S. Capitol Incident

On the other hand, Yahoo News called it an insurrection carried out by militant supporters of President Trump, and Business Insider talked of a pro-Trump assault on the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. Capitol Incident

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) potentially reflects how the event was perceived outside of the United States. Terms like riot and stormed appeared most commonly in BBC coverage of the incident. The participants were evenly identified as rioters, Trump supporters, protesters, and more often as the mob.

capitol incident bbc

The Impact of Media Coverage

The influence of news media on how the public perceives events is undeniable. In fact, 88% of surveyed Americans consider the news an essential tool to keep informed about public affairs.

From a riot caused by rioters to an insurrection by President Trump’s militant supporters, the way different media outlets analyze the U.S. Capitol incident impacts what their respective audiences take away from it.

Note: Publications that focus primarily on sports, entertainment, and business were omitted from this analysis. We analyzed 20 articles from each publication that related directly to the Capitol situation and resulting coverage.

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Politics

The Start of De-Dollarization: China’s Gradual Move Away from the USD

The de-dollarization of China’s trade settlements has begun. What patterns do we see in USD and RMB use within China and globally?

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An area chart illustrating the de-dollarization of China’s trade settlements.

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The following content is sponsored by The Hinrich Foundation

The Start of De-Dollarization: China’s Move Away from the USD

Since 2010, the majority of China’s cross-border payments, like those of many countries, have been settled in U.S. dollars (USD). As of the first quarter of 2023, that’s no longer the case.

This graphic from the Hinrich Foundation, the second in a three-part series covering the future of trade, provides visual context to the growing use of the Chinese renminbi (RMB) in payments both domestically and globally.  

The De-Dollarization of China’s Cross-Border Transactions

This analysis uses Bloomberg data on the share of China’s payments and receipts in RMB, USD, and other currencies from 2010 to 2024. 

In the first few months of 2010, settlements in local currency accounted for less than 1.0% of China’s cross-border payments, compared to approximately 83.0% in USD. 

China has since closed that gap. In March 2023, the share of the RMB in China’s settlements surpassed the USD for the first time.

DateRenminbiU.S. DollarOther
March 20100.3%84.3%15.4%
March 20114.8%81.3%13.9%
March 201211.5%77.1%11.5%
March 201318.1%72.7%9.2%
March 201426.6%64.8%8.6%
March 201529.0%61.9%9.0%
March 201623.6%66.7%9.7%
March 201717.6%72.5%9.9%
March 201823.2%67.4%9.4%
March 201926.2%65.1%8.7%
March 202039.3%54.4%6.3%
March 202141.7%52.6%5.6%
March 202242.1%53.3%4.7%
March 202348.4%46.7%4.9%
March 202452.9%42.8%4.3%

Source: Bloomberg (2024)

Since then, the de-dollarization in Chinese international settlements has continued.  

As of March 2024, over half (52.9%) of Chinese payments were settled in RMB while 42.8% were settled in USD. This is double the share from five years previous. According to Goldman Sachs, foreigners’ increased willingness to trade assets denominated in RMB significantly contributed to de-dollarization in favor of China’s currency. Also, early last year, Brazil and Argentina announced that they would begin allowing trade settlements in RMB. 

Most Popular Currencies in Foreign Exchange (FX) Transactions

Globally, analysis from the Bank for International Settlements reveals that, in 2022, the USD remained the most-used currency for FX settlements. The euro and the Japanese yen came in second and third, respectively.

Currency20132022Change (pp)
U.S. Dollar87.0%88.5%+1.5
Euro33.4%30.5%-2.9
Yen23.0%16.7%-6.3
Pound Sterling11.8%12.9%+1.1
Renminbi2.2%7.0%+4.8
Other42.6%44.4%+1.8
Total200.0%200.0%

Source: BIS Triennial Central Bank Survey (2022). Because two currencies are involved in each transaction, the sum of the percentage shares of individual currencies totals 200% instead of 100%.

The Chinese renminbi, though accounting for a relatively small share of FX transactions, gained the most ground over the last decade. Meanwhile, the euro and the yen saw decreases in use. 

The Future of De-Dollarization

If the RMB’s global rise continues, the stranglehold of the USD on international trade could diminish over time.  

The impacts of declining dollar dominance are complex and uncertain, but they could range from the underperformance of U.S. financial assets to diminished power of Western sanctions.

However, though the prevalence of RMB in international payments could rise, a complete de-dollarization of the world economy in the near- or medium-term is unlikely. China’s strict capital controls that limit the availability of RMB outside the country, and the nation’s sputtering economic growth, are key reasons contributing to this.

The third piece in this series will explore Russia’s shifting trading patterns following its invasion of Ukraine.

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Visit the Hinrich Foundation to learn more about the future of geopolitical trade

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