On Tuesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) defended his decision to release footage from the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, slamming a CNN reporter over the outlet’s decision to release confidential info related to the riot.
“Because of the footage that you gave Tucker Carlson, last night he went on and said this was a mostly peaceful chaos as he said, he downplayed Brian Sicknick’s death, said it was not related to January 6, that this was not an insurrection,” CNN’s Manu Raju said. “Do you regret giving him those [tapes] so he could whitewash the events of that day?”
“No. I said at the very beginning, ‘transparency,’” McCarthy said. “And so what I wanted to produce for everybody is exactly what I said, people can actually look at it and see what’s gone on that day.”
McCarthy was then asked if he agreed with Carlson’s portrayal of the events that took place on January 6, to which he responded, “Each person can come up with their own conclusion.”
“But I just wanted to make sure I had transparency, because I know on CNN, I mean, I had here where you guys actually wrote where we were,” McCarthy continued, holding up a printed CNN report.
“This was a secret location,” he said. “I don’t know if you got concerned by that, I don’t even know from a point of view of security if we could ever be taken there again. But when you broke that at CNN, that was a real concern to a lot of people.”
McCarthy released 41,000 hours of footage to Carlson several weeks ago, and Carlson promised to release the footage while his team worked to sift through it to construct the timeline of events. Now, Carlson has begun the process of releasing that footage, much to the dismay of many Democrats and some Republicans.
The revelations from Carlson’s Monday night suggest that the riot was not the violent insurrection that the January 6 committee suggested it was.
The footage showed police officers that could be seen “calmly” escorting rioters through the Capitol, including Jacob Chansley who later received a 41-month prison sentence for “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.”
Additionally, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who passed away shortly after the riot, could be seen walking about the Capitol with protesters, unharmed and apparently unconcerned.
Carlson noted that many liberals continue to claim that Sicknick was bludgeoned to death by protesters, despite a medical examiner declaring his death to be due to natural causes, and pointed to the footage as evidence to back up the claim.
Carlson claimed that the footage “proves lawmakers and the media were lying about the events that took place on Jan. 6.”
The footage has received pushback from Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer who argued on Tuesday that Carlson should be thrown off the air in order to preserve democracy.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actor treat the American people and American democracy with such disdain,” Schumer said. “And he’s going to come back tonight with another segment. Fox News should tell him not to.”
“These lies continue tonight, Rupert Murdoch, who has admitted they were lies and said he regretted it, has a special obligation to stop Tucker Carlson from going on tonight, now that he’s seen how he has perverted and slimed the truth, and from letting him go on again and again and again,” Schumer said. “Not because their views deserve such opprobrium, but because our democracy depends on it.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rebuked Carlson’s release of the footage on Tuesday as well, holding up an internal letter from U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger that slammed Carlson’s release.
“With regard to the presentation on Fox News last night, I want to associate myself entirely with the opinion of the chief of Capitol Police about what happened on January 6,” McConnell said, saying he was concerned about the depiction of events.
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