Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has handed over some 41,000 hours of security video from Jan. 6 and has launched an impassioned new attempt to explain away the deadly attack on the Capitol, increasingly linking the Republican Party to pro-Trump politics. conspiracy theories about the 2021 uprising.
The conservative commentator aired a first episode to millions of viewers on his primetime show on Monday, seeking to bend the world’s perception of the violent, grueling siege unfolding into a narrative favorable to former President Trump. A small extra snippet was shown on Tuesday amid calls from critics to stop.
Fox News’ pledge comes as Trump is running for president again and executives at the highest levels of the cable news giant have admitted in court proceedings that it spread the former president’s false claims about the 2020 election, despite privately dismissing Trump’s claims.
The effort ties in with the work of Republicans on Capitol Hill, led by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, who turned over the security footage to Fox. The Republicans are trying to discredit the findings of the House 6 investigation, which painstakingly documented, with testimony — mostly from Republicans — and video evidence, how Trump called on his supporters to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” as he put it. Congress was confirming his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump argued on Tuesday that Carlson’s presentation was “irrefutable” evidence that rioters were wrongly accused of crimes and thanked the host and speaker for their work. Carlson praised McCarthy for “correcting” the official account.
Trump again called for the release of people convicted or pleaded guilty to charges in the attack.
At the same time, criticism poured in from Democrats — and some top Republicans, too — about the GOP’s attempt to reinforce falsehoods about the attack seen around the world as Trump supporters besieged the seat of American democracy.
Representative Bennie Thompson, the Democrat who chaired the January 6 House select committee investigating the uprising, called McCarthy’s decision to selectively release the security footage “dereliction of duty.”
“The speaker decided it was more important to give in to a Fox host spreading lies and propaganda than it was to protect the Capitol,” Thompson said in a statement. He called January 6 “one of the darkest days in the history of our democracy”.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) called Carlson’s Monday night Fox News episode “one of the most embarrassing hours we’ve ever seen on television.”
The show’s portrayal was “an insult to any police officer” who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6, Schumer said, especially the family of Brian Sicknick, who died after battling the mob. “Nonviolence? Ask his family.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said it was a mistake by Fox News to run the footage as it did — contrary to the assessment of the U.S. Capitol Police and what he and others had learned from the first hand saws at the Capitol on January 6.
But McCarthy, who has moved from blaming Trump for the riot to softening his criticism of the former president, stood by his decision, saying people can watch and “draw their own conclusions.”
In the roughly 30-minute segment, Fox distilled the thousands of hours of footage from the gruesome scenes in the Capitol that day and showed some of the hand-to-hand combat as rioters besieged the building, breaking windows and kicking down doors to enter. come.
But Carlson also emphasized footage of the invaders, some in combat gear and waving flagpoles, merely walking through the gilded halls, snapping shots of the surroundings during lulls in the hour-long assault.
“These were not insurgents. They were tourists,” Carlson said.
The footage he broadcast focused on one of the most high-profile rioters, Jacob Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman,” dressed in his horned hat and bare-chested, snooping around the building, while officers stood by or opened doors . Chansley pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing an official proceeding and was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
Carlson denounced the January 6 bipartisan committee in the past congress, calling the Republican former congressmen who served on the panel, Vice Chairman Liz Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger, liars.
Carlson relives the falsehoods of Trump and his allies, including Republicans in Congress, that the attackers were peaceful protesters and behaving like tourists, despite the day’s well-documented carnage and the deaths of five people in the riot and its aftermath. It is part of an effort to reverse criminal charges for those charged with the attack, many of whom have pleaded guilty and regret their actions on January 6.
Capitol Police officers defending themselves against the mob have testified of their harrowing experiences — one said she slipped into someone else’s blood, while another said she was crushed in the mob — as they labored and ultimately failed to disperse the rioters. to stop storming the Capitol.
The criminal cases arising from the riot have exposed the violence. Officers testified in court that they were chased, beaten, dragged and scared for their lives as they tried to defend the Capitol. A tweeted Monday shows images of his cuts, stitches and swollen bruises from that day.
Among those who died during the riot and its aftermath were rioter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by police, and Capitol police officer Sicknick, who died after fighting the mob.
Carlson broadcast footage of Sicknick at the Capitol picking up posters and politely ushering protesters out the door, proving that the officer had not been killed in the crowd.
The latter was denounced by Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger as “last night’s most disturbing allegation.”
“The department maintains, as anyone in their right mind would, that if Officer Sicknick had not fought valiantly for hours on the day he was violently assaulted, Officer Sicknick would not have died the next day,” Manger said in a memo to his Police.
He said the program was “cherry-picked” from quieter times of the day, ignoring “the chaos and violence that happened before or during”.
The Sicknick family said in a statement that the footage simply showed Brian Sicknick bravely returning to his duties for a time after being attacked by a chemical agent.
Ken Sicknick, brother of Brian Sicknick, said in an interview that the family “doesn’t know” how to fight back against a network with millions of viewers and the House speaker who gave access to the footage.
Law enforcement failures on January 6 have been investigated in Congress and acknowledged: Police ignored signs of an imminent attack and were slow to respond, including strengthening the National Guard.
More than half of the roughly 1,000 people charged with riot-related crimes at the Capitol have pleaded guilty, including more than 130 who have pleaded guilty to felony charges, according to an Associated Press report.
Members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers extremist groups are rarely charged with incitement due to their role at the forefront of the attack. Several members of the Oath Keepers have been found guilty of sedition. Hundreds of other rioters were charged only with misdemeanor charges, and many have served no jail time.
Some Republicans on Capitol Hill are scrambling to retell the Jan. 6 history through the House Administration Committee, which has opened an online portal for public submissions.
However, some GOP leaders seemed uncomfortable with McCarthy’s move and the way the footage was used.
McConnell quickly distanced himself from the pursuit, saying he wanted to “entirely align” with the police chief’s views.
McConnell said, “Obviously the Chief of the Capitol Police is accurately describing what most of us experienced firsthand on January 6.”