Writer for conservative media outlet surrenders to face Capitol riot charges

WASHINGTON — A Texas-based writer for a conservative media outlet surrendered to authorities Friday on charges that he joined a mob attack on the U.S. Capitol more than three years ago.

Steve Baker, who wrote articles about the Jan. 6, 2021 riot for Blaze News, faces four felonies, including misdemeanor charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct. Baker was released after his first court appearance in Dallas on Friday, according to attorney William Shipley.

After the riot broke out, Baker entered the Capitol through a broken door and joined the crowd at the barricaded doors of the House chamber, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit. Shipley provided The Associated Press with a copy of the affidavit, which was not immediately released.

In another part of the Capitol, the affidavit says, Baker “resisted” police officers who tried to hold him on the other side of a doorframe, repeatedly asking, “Are you going to use that (gun) on us?” He remained in the building for about 37 minutes before police led him out of the Capitol, according to the FBI.

Blaze News is part of an online platform that conservative political commentator Glenn Beck founded in 2011 after leaving Fox News. Baker began writing for the media after the January 6 siege. He was working as a freelance journalist on Jan. 6 and later sold videos of the riot to The New York Times and HBO, Shipley said.

Shipley said all journalists should be concerned about the charges against Baker. The lawyer said the defense will argue that this is a case of selective prosecution and that Baker was charged because he is a conservative writer.

“These can be reversed if the politics of the moment change,” he said.

James Lee Bright, another attorney for Baker, said it was “deeply disturbing to see (Baker) dragged into federal court in chains for these crimes.”

“I have perpetrators of violent crimes who are being treated better every day,” Bright said. “It is absolutely our intention to fight these allegations to the absolute end.”

The FBI agent’s affidavit quotes several statements Baker made during and after the riot. After leaving the Capitol, he told a local television station that he was “pretty excited to see this happen.”

“Do I approve of what happened today?” I agree 100%,” he said, according to the affidavit.

Baker also told the station that there were about 20 to 30 people in then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office “at the time I got there.” In a video uploaded to a YouTube channel on January 6, Baker also referred to Pelosi with a sexist expletive.

“My only regret is that I didn’t like stealing their computers because God knows what I could have found on their computers if I had. “But unfortunately by the time I got into Pelosi’s office, some damage had already been done,” Baker said, according to the FBI.

In an article posted to the website earlier this week, Blaze Media editor-in-chief Matthew Peterson described the federal government’s treatment of Baker as “outrageous” and videos show that Baker was “clearly present that day as an independent journalist.” .

“These types of government retaliation against journalists contradict the idea of ​​a free press, the purpose of our form of government and what was once the American way of life,” Peterson said.

Baker’s coverage of the January 6 attack included the trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four associates charged with seditious conspiracy for a plot to halt the peaceful transfer of presidential power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden following the election of 2020 to stop. Baker covered the trial from a courtroom reserved for news reporters.

In the weeks leading up to his arrest, Baker posted on social media that the Justice Department had informed him that he would be charged with crimes related to the Capitol riot.

More than 1,300 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot, including several defendants who identified themselves as journalists. But prosecutors — and judges — have routinely rejected self-identified journalists’ arguments that the First Amendment protected their conduct on Jan. 6.

Last September, a judge sentenced Infowars host Owen Shroyer to two months behind bars for his role in the riot. Shroyer did not enter the Capitol, but led a march to the building and led rioters in chants at the top of the building’s steps.

Shroyer claimed he attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6 as a journalist planning to cover the event for his Infowars show. He ultimately pleaded guilty to illegally entering a restricted area, a misdemeanor.


Associated Press writer Alanna Durkin Richer contributed to this report.