Ad image

Tucker Carlson, with new video provided by Speaker McCarthy, falsely depicts Jan. 6 riot as a peaceful gathering

Semta News
Semta News
11 Min Read

WASHINGTON — Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday released new security footage from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, using video provided exclusively to him by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to portray the riot as a peaceful gathering.

Carlson acquired the tapes as part of a deal for McCarthy to win the speaker’s gavel. When McCarthy was struggling to gather the votes to lead the House, Carlson used his program to list two “concessions” he could make to win over far-right Republicans.

“First, release the January 6 files. Not some of the January 6 files and video — all of it,” Carlson, the most-watched host on cable news, said after McCarthy faced three failed votes. “So that the rest of us can finally know what actually happened on January 6, 2021.”

In the two months since McCarthy won the gavel, he has granted both. Carlson announced in late February that McCarthy had given him exclusive access to 44,000 hours of security footage from the deadly riot before unveiling some clips of the footage on his show Monday night.

Carlson focused Monday’s segment on promoting Trump’s narrative by showing footage of his supporters walking calmly around the U.S. Capitol. He asserted that other media accounts lied about the attack, proclaiming that while there were some bad apples, most of the rioters were peaceful, calling them “sightseers,” not “insurrectionists.”

“The footage does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress,” Carlson told his audience Monday. “Instead it shows police escorting people through the building, including the now infamous ‘QAnon Shaman.’”

He continued: “More than 44,000 hours of surveillance footage from in and around the Capitol have been withheld from the public and once you see the video, you’ll understand why. Taken as a whole, the video does not support the claim that Jan. 6 was an insurrection. In fact, it demolishes that claim.”

Video that Carlson didn’t air shows police and rioters engaged in hours of violent combat that resulted in the injury of hundreds of police officers. Two pipe bombs were also planted nearby but were not detonated.

Nearly 1,000 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack. About 140 officers were assaulted that day, and about 326 people have been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees, including 106 assaults that happened with a deadly or dangerous weapon. About 60 people pleaded guilty to assaulting law enforcement.

Carlson also said on his show Monday that Democrats lied about the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. He played footage that he said showed Sicknick walking around inside the Capitol after he was attacked by the mob. “They knew he was not murdered by the mob, but they claimed it anyway,” he said.

Sicknick died of natural causes on Jan 7, the day after engaging with rioters outside the Capitol. An autopsy report determined that Sicknick died of a stroke at the base of the brain stem caused by a blood clot. Capitol Police have said Sicknick returned to his office the riot and collapsed. Two men have been sentenced to prison for spraying him with a chemical irritant during the melee and Sicknick’s family has contended that the fighting with rioters contributed directly to his stroke.

McCarthy’s controversial decision to hand over Jan. 6 footage to Carlson represents a new twist for one of the most scrutinized events in American history, which has produced countless hours of social media footage, a sweeping Justice Department criminal investigation, a House select committee probe and a bipartisan impeachment of then-President Donald Trump on “incitement of insurrection.”

The video’s release after two years, on Fox News in primetime, highlights the influence of Carlson, who has downplayed and promoted conspiracy theories about Jan. 6, and the far right over the slim new House majority.

Carlson also said at the top of his show Monday that Fox had checked with Capitol Police before airing any of the footage.

“Their reservations were minor,” he said, saying Fox blurred a door inside the Capitol in response to the agency’s request.

NBC News has reached out to the Capitol Police for comment.

Carlson said he plans to air additional footage during his show on Tuesday night.

The episode presents thorny politics for McCarthy who, in releasing the tapes to Carlson, is reigniting a national debate over the failed insurrection that cost his party seats in the midterm election — and looms over the 2024 presidential contest as Trump leads the GOP field in pursuit of a comeback.

“Electorally, it’s not to their advantage to be on the side of insurrectionists. But hasn’t stopped them before,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.

The Republican speaker’s actions have sparked criticism from members of both parties and demands from news outlets, including NBC News, for access to the footage. Some lawmakers say the tapes could be taken out of context to create a false narrative of what happened that day. Others worry they could expose the identities of police officers who defended the Capitol and subject them to harassment. And numerous Republicans say security information should be protected and that all media should have equal access.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said the tapes “should have been reviewed to make sure that they would not be used in a way that could harm law enforcement” before being disclosed to anyone.

“I don’t quite know what Speaker McCarthy had in mind,” he said. “I think it’s appropriate to provide information to the public generally and not just to one network.”

McCarthy defended his decision, saying he has accounted for security concerns and that his office had “worked with Capitol Police” to ensure that security concerns were “taken care of.” Carlson also said at the top of his show Monday that Fox had discussed what they planned to air with Capitol Police beforehand.

“He’ll have an exclusive then I’ll give it out to the entire country,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said, adding that Carlson’s team is “not interested” in showing sensitive security footage such as exit routes. “We’re working through that. We worked with the Capitol Police as well. So we’ll make sure security is taken care of.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that McCarthy’s decision “laid bare that this sham is simply about pandering to MAGA election deniers,” accusing Carlson of using “his platform to promote the Big Lie, distort reality, and espouse bogus conspiracy theories about January 6.”

Some Republicans believe it is a mistake to reopen the Jan. 6 discussion, particularly after Trump-backed election deniers faced midterm defeats up and down the ballot in swing states.

“The 2022 election was a categorical rejection of election denialism. It cost Republicans the Senate and nearly kept them from winning back the House,” said Republican strategist Ken Spain, a former aide on the GOP’s House campaign arm. “With a razor-thin majority, House Republicans can’t waste a minute looking backward.”

Trump’s allies are looking for one thing on those tapes: vindication.

“We heard for two years how incredibly important this Jan. 6 committee was, how important all the evidence they collected was,” said Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who mounted the first Senate objection to 2020 results that forced a vote, turning a sleepy ritual into a rallying point for Trump and his ardent followers. “Let’s see it. Let’s see the whole video.”

Hawley said that among the people at the Capitol, “I think the overwhelming majority were peaceful.” He added: “My friends on the left are melting down about this. ‘We can’t have that!’ Well, why can’t we? I thought it was critical that it all be put out there.” 

“What’s on the tapes? I don’t know, but I’m interested to see them,” he said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the Jan. 6 security footage “should be made public or at least congressional oversight” because “that’s a very dramatic thing that happened one day in our country’s history.”

“What’s been investigated would be such a small percentage of it that a lot could be learned,” he said.

The release of some of the Jan. 6 security footage comes two years after the attack, in which Trump supporters violently breached the Capitol in an attempt to overturn his 2020 defeat. Trump has persisted in his fabricated claims that the election was stolen from him, despite failing to produce evidence of substantial fraud. He has also persisted in defending many of the rioters as patriots.

In a recent letter to colleagues, Schumer warned that Carlson would use any clips from the riot to advance his own narrative. “If the past is any indication, Tucker Carlson will select only clips that he can use to twist the facts to sow doubt of what happened on January 6 and feed into the propaganda he’s already put on Fox News’ air, which, based on recent reports, he may not even believe himself,” Schumer wrote.

Share this Article
Leave a comment