March 29, 2021

A video shared on YouTube claims that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. called for the death penalty of Republican members of Congress  who challenged the presidential election results. This is false. Here’s how we fact-checked it.

Look at who is sharing the information

Taking a look at where information is coming from can alert you to any potential bias. Turning to the YouTube channel’s “About” section, it says the channel provides “original commentary on news,” aka opinions.

Deciphering news from opinion can be tricky on YouTube. With articles, you’ll usually see a label telling you that what you’re reading is an opinion or commentary piece. That’s not really the case on YouTube, so it’s super important to vet any information you’re unsure about.

Read past the headline

While the YouTube title reads, “HORROR. Senator Calls For Death Penalty Of Republicans Challenging Election,” it’s clear when watching the full video that the senator didn’t say this. This is a good example of why you need to read past sensationalized or clickbaity headlines to get to the full story.

In reality, during an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto, Shaheen said, “These senators and members of Congress who have refused to acknowledge that we had a free and fair election in which Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by over 7 million votes are bordering on sedition and treason.”

It’s true that the U.S. criminal code on treason says that those found guilty “shall suffer death.” However, as mentioned in the video, it also says “or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined.” Sen. Shaheen saying senators and members of Congress are bordering on sedition and treason does not mean the same thing as calling for them to be put to death. That’s a pretty big stretch and a false connection.

Bonus tips

  1. Question how the title or post makes you feel. When we read something and react with feelings like shock or disgust, that’s a clue that it could be missing some crucial context.
  2. When it comes to news on social media, you’re always going to want proof (like links to credible sources). Unlike other platforms, YouTube allows you to put a bunch of URLs in the description. If there isn’t any information there, that’s a red flag.
  3. Google it! Plug in some keywords and see what else has been reported. For example, if a Democratic senator did call for the death penalty of Republicans, that would be major news. Doing a keyword search, we couldn’t find any credible sources reporting on this happening.


Not Legit. Sen. Shaheen never called for the death penalty of Republican members of Congress who challenged election results, though she did say they were “bordering on sedition and treason.”

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