Jan. 6, Part 1: ‘The Herd Mentality’

Who exactly joined the mob that, almost a year ago, on Jan. 6, breached the walls of the U.S. Capitol in a bid to halt the certification of President Biden’s election victory?

Members of far-right extremist groups were present but so too were doctors, lawyers, substitute teachers, church deacons and business owners, many of whom had previously been nonpolitical.

The question of why these people were at the Capitol that day is hard to answer, but the some of the most useful clues come from three F.B.I. interviews that have been released to the public.

The most revealing is with a man named Robert Reeder, who was facing four misdemeanor charges for entering the Capitol. Mr. Reeder is from suburban Maryland, single and a father, and at the time of the riots he was a driver for FedEx.

Today, in the first of a three-part look at what happened on Jan. 6 and what it tells us about the state of American democracy, using voice actors, we bring the transcript of his interview to life.

  • Alan Feuer, a reporter covering courts and criminal justice for The New York Times.

Jan. 6, Part 1: ‘The Herd Mentality’ 1
Kenny Holston for The New York Times

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Transcripts of each episode are available by the next workday. You can find them at the top of the page.

Alan Feuer contributed reporting.

Voice acting by Steve Pasquale and Erin Hebert, casting by Shelly Shenoy and voice directing by Austin Mitchell and Dan Powell. Fact-checking by Caitlin Love. Special thanks to Maddy Masiello.

The Daily is made by Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Larissa Anderson, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Austin Mitchell, Dan Powell, Dave Shaw, Sydney Harper, Daniel Guillemette, Robert Jimison, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Kaitlin Roberts, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Anita Badejo, Rob Szypko, Elisheba Ittoop, Chelsea Daniel, Mooj Zadie, Patricia Willens and Rowan Niemisto.

Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Paula Szuchman, Cliff Levy, Lauren Jackson, Julia Simon, Mahima Chablani, Sofia Milan, Desiree Ibekwe, Erica Futterman, Wendy Dorr, Elizabeth Davis-Moorer, Jeffrey Miranda and Maddy Masiello.