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Full transcript: University of Chicago Professor Robert Pape on "Face the Nation," January 2, 2022

The following is the full transcript of an interview with University of Chicago Professor Robert Pape that aired Sunday, January 2, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to take a closer look now at the 725 people who've been charged for their roles in the attack on the Capitol. Who are these individuals? And what can we learn from their backgrounds that can help us understand the political violence that we saw that day on January 6? Joining us now is Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago. Professor, I know you've studied insurgencies in war zones. You're working with the Pentagon now, I mean, you're looking at what is happening in the United States. And one of the things that was chilling to me was that you found the majority of those who attacked were not affiliated with any organized militia; they were everyday people.

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PROFESSOR ROBERT PAPE: Exactly right, MARGARET, what we're seeing is a movement that is a mainstream movement, not simply confined to fringe elements. And this is important, because we're so used to thinking of right wing extremism, or really extremism in general as part of the fringe. They're just a tiny fraction of America, less than 1%, and they come from people that are economically destitute, many often unemployed. Well, that's not what our studies of the Jan. 6,- those who broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6 show, or the studies of the insurrection of sentiment in the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And what you found is that some of these people were- were business owners, they were employed. These were people who had something to lose. They were putting things at risk when they went to Washington and carried out this violence.

PAPE: Absolutely. A very striking finding is their economic profile, over half of the 700 who broke into the Capitol had been arrested so far for breaking into the Capitol are business owners, CEOs from white collar occupations, doctors, lawyers, architects and accountants. Only 7% were unemployed at the time of their Jan. 6 insurrection, nearly the national average. This is very different than we're used to seeing from right wing extremists, where typically 25%, 30% of right wing violent offenders are unemployed and virtually none are CEOs or business owners. Further, if we look at their relationship to the militia groups, so only 13% of those who broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6 were members of militia groups like the Oath Keepers were extremist groups like the Proud Boys. That means not- nearly 90% were not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So if these people believe in what they were doing, who are they getting their information from? How could they truly put everything on the line and carry out this violence? Like who is telling them what to do?

PAPE: Well, we can see their media consumption from a-a surveys that we've done after our studies of who broke into the Capitol we find that fully 21 million people believe two radical beliefs in America today: one that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president, and two that the use of force to restore Donald Trump to the presidency is justified. And their media sources of those 21 million, they come from 42% of the 21 million their main media source is Fox News, Newsmax, One America that is mainstream conservative news. Their second most prominent news source is actually liberal and centrist media like CNN, NPR, CBS. And you might say, Well, how could that be? It's because often when people watch ideas they disagree with, that makes them angry. Only 10% of the 21 million are getting their news, mainly from right wing social media like Gab or Telegram.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden has said that he believes racism was a key part of the attack on the Capitol on Jan 6. Have you seen anything that bears that out to be true?

PAPE: Race is an element and race is a driver. So when we look at the counties that the 700 who broke into the Capitol came from, where they live, what we see is over half live in counties that Joe Biden won. They don't mainly come from the reddest parts of America. They're coming from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Houston and Dallas. Further, when we look at the key characteristic of why some counties and not others, what we see is the counties that sent the insurrectionists are the counties losing the most white population. Well, that dovetails with this right wing conspiracy theory that used to be part of the fringe called the great replacement. The idea that whites are being replaced. This idea is also that the Democratic Party is doing this deliberately. Well, that idea now is voiced by mainstream political leaders, by mainstream media figures, embraced full throttle.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So what are the triggers that you are watching, because I know you have said in the past this isn't just about violence in Washington, you could see sparks of violence in Atlanta, Georgia, in other major cities. What is the trigger?

PAPE: That's exactly right. So what we're seeing in our surveys are national surveys. Of the 21 million in the insurrectionists movement is a massive combustible material, think of it as like dry wood that can be set off from a lightning strike or a spark, as in wildfires. Well, we're moving into a highly volatile 2022 election season, where there could be many sparks at the local levels and a lot of our election laws, say Georgia or Texas, the counting of the vote has been more politicized than ever before. What that does is it creates a very dangerous season which means as we go through the 2022 election season, it's crucial to have dialogue with our political leaders, our community leaders, especially the White House, over this new empirical reality.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Professor, important work, thank you for sharing it with us.

PAPE: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back in a moment.

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