Monday night Fox News host Tucker Carlson took to his conspiracy theory swamp show to lay out his latest cherry-picked take on the violent insurrection of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“The footage does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress,” Carlson told his audience on Monday. “Instead it shows police escorting people through the building.”
This was all part of a spun-up debut of footage that Carlson said he would roll out after his team got exclusive access to over 40,000 hours of tape from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) last month. Carlson used select frames of the security footage — most of which was already available to defense attorneys for Jan. 6 rioters — to try and reinforce his false narrative that the Jan. 6 attack was nothing more than a bunch of peaceful “sightseers” touring the Capitol building with police escorts.
“‘Deadly insurrection.’ Everything about that phrase is a lie,” Carlson added. “Very little about Jan. 6 was organized or violent. Surveillance video from inside the Capitol shows mostly peaceful chaos.”
This is all, of course, not true. The majority of Americans watched the violent attack on the Capitol unfold on live TV. Hundreds of rioters have been charged for violently breaching the building. Members of the far-right group Oath Keepers have already been convicted of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the coordinated attack on the Capitol. Members of another far-right extremist group, the Proud Boys, are facing similar charges. As the Jan. 6 select committee found, insurrectionists attacked the Capitol in an effort to stop the peaceful transfer of power and many of them believed they were acting on directives from then-President Donald Trump.
But it seems Tucker Carlson’s MAGA-landish take on the painfully selective footage might have convinced at least one person: Elon Musk, the guy who has ruined Twitter for everyone.
Following the show, Musk went on one of his bizarre Twitter rants to attack several lawmakers that were a part of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack last year, ironically accusing them of “misleading the public” and latching onto debunked conspiracy theories about the FBI and law enforcement’s response on Jan. 6.
Responding to a tweet about the two Republicans on the committee, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and co-chair former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), Musk said they were guilty of withholding evidence and added their actions were “deeply wrong.”
“Besides misleading the public, they withheld evidence for partisan political reasons that sent people to prison for far more serious crimes than they committed,” Musk said. “That is deeply wrong, legally and morally.”
In a separate tweet, Musk called the footage “shocking indeed.”
US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger pushed back on Carlson’s commentary, saying the host “cherry-picked” from the thousands of hours of security footage to present “offensive” and “misleading” conclusions about the attack.
“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 department memo obtained by CNN.
“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,” Manger added.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and several other Senate Republicans also criticized Carlson’s characterization of the deadly Capitol riot as a “mostly peaceful chaos.”
“I want to associate myself entirely with the opinion of the chief and the Capitol Police about what happened on January 6,” McConnell said, referring to Manger’s memo. “It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.”
“I think it’s bullshit,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) told reporters in the Capitol, according to NBC News.
“I was here. I was down there and I saw maybe a few tourists, a few people who got caught up in things,” he added. “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.”