Media outlets and lawmakers from across the political spectrum are criticizing Tucker Carlson for airing “cherry-picked” footage designed to downplay the Jan. 6 riots.
Media outlets and lawmakers from across the political spectrum – including Fox News itself – criticized Tucker Carlson after he aired previously unseen footage of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot provided by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
- Carlson centered the Monday night program of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” around the footage. Carlson claims that this footage proves that the Capitol riot was not, in fact, a riot and was rather “mostly peaceful” to make the case that those who pled guilty or were convicted of violent assaults, trespassing, and other crimes tied to the riot are somehow “political prisoners.”
- Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger condemned Carlson in a rare public memo. “The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video,” Manger wrote in the memo. “The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during the less tense moments.”
- Carlson’s decision to downplay the riots as “mostly peaceful chaos” divided Republican elected officials. Many Republican lawmakers quickly distanced themselves from Carlson.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rebuked Carlson in a press conference, saying he wanted to make clear he agrees with the Capitol Police chief about the events of Jan. 6.
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) didn’t mince words. “I think it’s bullshit,” Tillis told reporters when asked about Carlson’s claims. “I was down there and I saw maybe a few tourists, a few people who got caught up in things. But when you see police barricades breached, when you see police officers assaulted, all of that … if you were just a tourist, you should’ve probably lined up at the visitors’ center and came in on an orderly basis,” Tillis added.
- Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a top Trump ally, was similarly withering in his criticism of Carlson. “To somehow put that in the same category as a permitted peaceful protest is just a lie,” he told reporters in an interview aired on Fox News itself.
- Speaker McCarthy defended his decision to exclusively release the footage to Carlson and not to the public or other reporters, but when asked about Carlson’s claims pled ignorance. “I didn’t see what was aired…I don’t know what Tucker Carlson said,” McCarthy told reporters.
- No Fox News program even mentioned Carlson’s program on Tuesday until Bret Baier’s Special Report aired at 6 pm. Baier ran a report from top Congressional reporter Chad Pergram that “cast serious doubt on Carlson’s framing of the events of Jan. 6.” Baier concluded his program by saying, “And to be clear, no one here at Fox News condones any of the violence that happened on Jan. 6.”
- The Washington Post reported on new Fox News internal communications released as part of Dominion Voting System’s defamation lawsuit against the network that may shed light on why Carlson decided to try and whitewash J6. Carlson texted a colleague after the election, “I hate [Trump] passionately. … What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.” Evidently, Carlson’s priority is to say on the right side of Trump, a man he apparently “hates passionately” rather than tell his viewers what he really thinks.
- Carlson’s narrative is directly contradicted by McCarthy’s own comments in the aftermath of the riot, according to a report from CNN. In the days after Jan. 6, McCarthy called the mob “un-American,” said the rioters “overtook” the Capitol, and said anyone who participated should be sent to jail.
- The New York Times covered the Republican divide over Carlson’s program. The G.O.P. responses ranged from McCarthy’s limp defense while simultaneously claiming he didn’t know what Carlson said, to Conference Chair Elise Stefanik’s messaging account calling it a “MUST WATCH.” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney called Carlson’s decision to downplay the violence “dangerous and disgusting.”
- National Review’s Noah Rothman trawled through hours of security footage and thousands of pages of J6 Committee testimony to comprehensively debunk Carlson’s “revisionist history” of the riots. As Rothman observed, “Those who are ‘just asking questions’ about January 6 don’t seem much interested in the answers they’re soliciting.”
- The Daily Mail’s David Marcus argued Carlson’s “devastating” program “destroyed” the J6 Committee’s “carefully constructed” narrative of the events of Jan. 6. As Marcus wrote, “Why is America only seeing this footage now? The answer is obvious. It didn’t fit the Democrats’ narrative, so it was left out.”
- The Commentary Magazine podcast broke down the two issues hurting the two major parties: crime is dragging down the Democrats, and the ongoing discussion of J6 is dragging down the GOP.
© Dominic Moore, 2023