Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s release of 40,000 hours of Jan. 6 Capitol Grounds surveillance video to Fox News has been fiercely criticized by Democratic leaders and those who have perpetuated the narrative that the protest and breach of the Capitol was an attempted insurrection, spurred on by former President Donald Trump and bravely put down by members of the Capitol Police force.
On Monday, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson presented the first installment of what will likely be a series of reveals on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Carlson claimed the footage “proves lawmakers and the media were lying about the events that took place on Jan. 6.”
While video played in the background, Carlson pointed out that the footage shows police officers “calmly” escorting protesters about Capitol grounds — including Jacob Chansley, who received a 41-month prison sentence for “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.”
The Fox News host pointedly claimed that the video overwhelmingly contradicted the select committee’s claims and narrative that protesters were there attempting to overthrow the government.
On Tuesday, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger pushed back on Carlson’s comments, claiming that Tucker deliberately showed video clips that did not accurately represent the events of Jan. 6.
Manger argued that Carlson’s clips only showed the “calmer moments” and disputed Tucker’s claim the protest was a “mostly peaceful” gathering of protesters.”
“Last night, an opinion program aired commentary that was filled with offensive and misleading conclusions about the January 6 attack,” Manger wrote in an internal memo to Capitol Police officers.
Manger continued: “The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video. The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments.”
The police chief took particular issue with Carlson’s comments regarding Jacob Chansley, widely known as the “QAnon Shaman,” whom video shows walking around freely while up to nine Capitol Police officers watched.
Chansley received a 41-month prison sentence for “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.”
Carlson mocked the narrative that Chansley was a dangerous, violent leader of a rebellion, saying that police officers in contact with Chansley did not seem concerned and acted more like his “tour guide” than as if they believed he was an existential threat to national security.
Manger argued Carlson’s depiction of what happened is “outrageous and false.” Without specifically noting how or why Carlson’s report was in error, Manger wrote:
“This Department stands by the officers in the video that was shown last night. I don’t have to remind you how outnumbered our officers were on January 6. Those officers did their best to use de-escalation tactics to try to talk rioters into getting each other to leave the building.”
Carlson’s Monday report included claiming leading Democrats repeatedly lied about several critical aspects of the Jan. 6 event, including the portrayal of the unfortunate death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick.
Sicknick was said to have been attacked by protesters early in the day and bludgeoned to death by a fire extinguisher. The report was printed in The New York Times (later retracted) and repeated numerous times by the White House and leading Democrats, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several Jan. 6 House Select Committee members.
Notably, a D.C. medical examiner determined that Sicknick died of “natural causes,” not on Jan. 6 and not on Capitol grounds.
Manger argued that “all that transpired [on Jan. 6] played a role in his [death].” He wrote:
“The most disturbing accusation from last night was that our late friend and colleague Brian Sicknick’s death had nothing to do with his heroic actions on January 6. The Department maintains, as anyone with common sense would, that had Officer Sicknick not fought valiantly for hours on the day he was violently assaulted, Officer Sicknick would not have died the next day.”
Sicknick’s family also disputed Carlson’s comments, denouncing Fox News as a “propaganda arm of the Republican Party.” A statement by the family read:
The Sicknick family is outraged at the ongoing attack on our family by the unscrupulous and outright sleazy so-called ‘news’ network of Fox News who will do the bidding of Trump or any of its sycophant followers.”
No matter what damage is done to the families of the fallen, the officers who put their lives on the line, and all who suffered on Jan. 6th due to the lies started by Trump and spread by sleaze slinging outlets like Fox.
Every time the pain of that day seems to have ebbed a bit, organizations like Fox rip our wounds wide open again and we are frankly sick of it. Leave us the hell alone.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), whom Trump has labeled a RINO (Republican In Name Only), supported Manger’s criticisms. On Tuesday, McConnell told reporters:
“It was a mistake, in my view, [for] Fox News to depict this in a way completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official in the Capitol [did]. I want to associate myself entirely with the opinion of the chief of the Capitol Police about what happened on Jan. 6.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) joined former President Trump in praising the video’s release and Carlson’s report. He tweeted:
“Truth is beginning to be revealed. Thank you @SpeakerMcCarthy, @TuckerCarlson & company for showing America the rest of the Jan. 6 story. When will judges begin applying justice equally? Doesn’t look like ‘thousands of armed insurrectionists’ to me.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the House Select Committee, attacked Carlson’s report claiming the Fox News host is a “right-wing propagandist” who spreads “the Big Lie.”
McCarthy has responded to criticism by saying the video’s release is in the public’s interest and that Americans have a right to know the truth.
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