A group of news organizations on Friday asked House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to share thousands of hours of security footage from Jan. 6 after Fox News host Tucker Carlson said this week that he has been given access to about 44,000 hours of video from the attack on the Capitol.
“We understand that, in your capacity as Speaker of the House of Representatives, you recently provided the Tucker Carlson Tonight television program with access to certain Congressional records — specifically, previously unavailable video footage from the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021,” wrote Laura Handman, a lawyer representing the media outlets. “We write to request that the News Organizations be granted access to these materials.”
The news outlets requesting access include The Associated Press; NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and Noticias Telemundo; The New York Times; and The Washington Post.
“There is no basis for further delaying granting this access — to these News Organizations or any other media outlets that make similar requests,” Handman said.
McCarthy’s office has not responded to multiple inquiries from NBC News about access to the footage, but the California Republican defended his decision in a brief interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, saying, “I was asked in the press about these tapes, and I said they do belong to the American public. I think sunshine lets everybody make their own judgment.”
McCarthy last year told the head of the Jan. 6 committee — a panel he opposed — that it was “imperative that all the information collected [from the probe] be preserved not just for institutional prerogatives but for transparency to the American people.”
On his primetime show Monday, Carlson said, “We believe we have secured the right to see whatever we want to see,” adding that he planned to bring viewers findings from the footage next week.
McCarthy has been widely criticized by Democrats following Carlson’s announcement.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Wednesday that McCarthy’s reported decision to surrender the footage “poses grave security risks” to lawmakers and Capitol staff.
Schumer added that public release of the footage “would compromise the safety of the Legislative Branch and allow those who want to commit another attack to learn how Congress is safeguarded.”
Julie Tsirkin contributed.