Video of Josh Hawley fleeing Jan. 6 Capitol rioters sparks memes


Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) may have broken a Guinness World Record on Thursday — if there is one for guest starring in the most movies and music videos in a single night.

There was “chariots of fire”, with Hawley running in slow motion on the film’s iconic theme song, punctuated by piano.

Then came the playful tune of “The Benny Hill Show“, followed by the soundtrack entries of “Rocky,” “Titanic” and “Calm your enthusiasm.”

Hawley then hit the music scene, appearing in “born to run“Van Halen”run with the devil» and that of Kate Bush «Run up that hill‘, the 1985 song recently resurrected and reached the top of the charts thanks to its prominence on the Netflix show ‘Stranger Things’.

But the footage of Hawley was all the same: two primetime clips from the final House committee hearing investigating Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol. Both showed Hawley fleeing rioters as they poured into the building, according to the committee.

While the videos had the audience laughing in real time, the internet was just getting started. Within minutes, and then for hours, people ruthlessly roasted Hawley.

Some set the videos to music – mostly songs with lyrics about running. Others tried their hand at puns, coining a new term to describe what the young Missouri senator was up to: Hawlin’. Most just posted memes – of Forrest Gump sprinting at the start of his race across the country; the Road Runner hurtling down the road with a “Meep meep”; of “Seinfeld” character George Costanza jostling an elderly woman and several children to escape a fire at a children’s birthday party.

“I’ll be drinking from Josh Hawley’s well for the rest of the week,” a Twitter user wrote.

Hawley’s office did not immediately respond to a Washington Post request for comment Thursday evening.

Aside from the brief burst of laughter, things remained grim during Thursday’s hearing. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) introduced Hawley as the senator who, upon passing protesters as he walked through the east side of the Capitol on Jan. 6, raised his fist in solidarity with them before entering in the building.

A United States Capitol police officer guarding the building told the committee that Hawley’s gesture “unnerved the crowd,” Luria said, with a giant version of the hand pump photo projected behind her. The officer told the committee that Hawley’s behavior “greatly bothered her” because he was waving at protesters from “a safe space” protected by barricades and police between him and any crowds that might form. He then entered the Capitol, leaving officers on the front lines to deal with the fallout, she said.

But that safe space didn’t last, Luria said. “Later that day, Senator Hawley fled after protesters he helped irritate stormed the Capitol.”

“See for yourself,” Luria added.

Videos played. A three-second clip showed Hawley bounding through the halls of the Capitol, passing several officers, which Luria said the senator did to escape rioters invading the building. The committee replayed the footage in slow motion for good measure. Then came a six-second clip showing Hawley walking down a flight of stairs with others.

Hawley defended greeting Jan. 6 protesters with a fist pump before challenging the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory over President Donald Trump. The senator claimed that, like him, many of them came out to demonstrate peacefully and called grouping these people with rioters “an insult to the thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of people who came to the Capitol that day to demonstrate peacefully.”

Hawley continued to make political hay — and money — on the hand pump image. Hawley slapped a rendition of the image on several posts, along with the tagline “SHOW-ME STRONG!” — a reference to Missouri’s nickname, “the Show-Me State” — and began selling the items in February, the Missouri Independent reported in March.

Netizens seized on Luria’s juxtaposition of the punch photo and running videos to target Hawley. Using a popular meme, one user categorized the photo of Hawley’s fist pump as messing around and a still image of him fleeing as “discovery”.

Some Twitter users stuck to the classic one-line format to dig into Hawley. There was the zinger of a freelance writer and editor in California: From now on, if political reporters ask Josh Hawley if he intends to run, he’s going to have to ask them to clarify.

A television and film producer: The Missouri Dems should host an annual Josh Hawley 5K as a fundraiser.

And a political adviserwho took the opportunity to try to boost voter turnout: You better run to the polls like Josh Hawley fled the insurgency.

Others took more inspiration from the language of the internet to roast Hawley. In a tweet that had racked up 13 million views Friday morning, another television producer posted a four-second GIF of a sprinting guy with the caption: “How Josh Hawley fled the Capitol on January 6th”

Legendary TV journalist Dan Rather piled in, keeping it simple: “Run Hawley Run.” A Twitter user came up with help, responding to Rather’s “Forrest Gump” allusion with the GIF of the character played by Tom Hanks sprinting.

Political commentator Charlie Sykes immediately saw the Internet value of the Hawley videos. Moments after the clips went public, he was ready to call her.

“Running Josh Hawley,” he wrote“is a meme for the ages.”