A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers criticized Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s downplaying of the January 6 Capitol riots in a segment Monday featuring tapes provided exclusively to the conservative pundit via Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), as Fox is set to continue releasing footage of the attacks.
Multiple Republican senators lashed out at Carlson’s characterization that the footage McCarthy handed over “demolishes . . . the claim that January 6th was an insurrection,” while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) launched a scathing rebuke of the segment on the Senate floor Tuesday.
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said that equating the insurrection to a protest is “just a lie” and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) called Carlson’s framing “bulls—t,” CNN reported.
Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mike Rounds (S.D.), and John Thune (S.D.) also rejected Carlson’s narrative, with Thune telling CNN: “Tthere were a lot of people in the Capitol at that time that were scared for their lives.”
Schumer opened Tuesday’s Senate session by calling the segment “one of the most shameful hours we have ever seen on cable television,” and criticized McCarthy for engaging in a “treacherous, treacherous game by catering to the hard right”—a reference to McCarthy’s deal with his right-wing detractors during January speaker election to release the tapes in exchange for their support.
Schumer also called on Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch to block the release of future segments.
“Speaker McCarthy is every bit as culpable as Mr. Carlson. Speaker McCarthy’s decision to share security footage with Fox looked like a mistake from the very beginning, but after last night it looks like a disaster,” Schumer said.
Carlson on Monday aired footage showing convicted rioter Jacob Chansley, known as the “QAnon Shaman,” along with images of Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, who died a day after he responded to the attack—among 41,000 hours of tapes McCarthy released to Carlson last month. “The footage does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress,” Carlson said during the segment. “Instead it shows police escorting people through the building, including the now-infamous ‘QAnon Shaman.’” Schumer, before Monday’s segment aired, blasted McCarthy’s release of the tapes as a decision that “poses grave security risks to members of Congress and everyone who works on Capitol Hill,” he wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats last week. Sicknick’s death was one of several tied to the January 6 Capitol riot, while approximately 114 police officers are estimated to have been injured, according to the Government Accountability Office.
While Carlson defended the rioters in Monday’s segment by saying they were “right” to believe “that the election they had just voted in had been unfairly conducted,” he has privately disputed claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, according to allegations made by Dominion Voting Systems in its defamation case against Fox. Court papers filed by the company last month claim that Carlson called conspiracy theories involving Dominion machines “insane” and “absurd,” despite promoting them on Fox News.
What To Watch For
McCarthy said last month the tapes would eventually be made public, though it’s unclear when. McCarthy made the pledge amid demands from other news organizations that they also should have access to the security footage.
On January 6th, 2021, controversial Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, addressed the events of the previous day in a way that drew bipartisan outrage. Carlson presented a segment that left many viewers disturbed, disgusted and disgusted. This was one of the most shameful hours that has ever been seen on cable television.
Carlson started his segment by defending the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol the day before, seemingly suggesting that their actions were justified because the government had failed their constituents. He then shifted to attacking opponents of President Donald Trump, such as former presidents Obama and Bush, as well as the media, implying that their criticism of the president had led to this violence.
As a result of his statement, Carlson was accused of normalizing the attack on the Capitol Building and validating the rioters’ actions. This drew widespread criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, including some of the firmer allies of the President. Among them, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Rep. Liz Cheney, and former Fox News host Greta Van Susteran, who all condemned his statement.
This controversy serves as another example of cable news channels that have chosen to prioritize sensationalist topics and personal agendas over any real discussion or reporting. Carlson’s segment was an attempt to deflect the blame of the attack away from President Trump and to stoke further division among Americans. This kind of rhetoric has no place in any news network’s programming and should be called out for what it is; a disgraceful and dangerous approach to a serious situation.
In light of expected and urgent calls for justice from across the political aisle, it is essential that news networks be aware of their influence and the example they set for their audiences and strive to be inclusive and respectful to all. The stunning amount of bipartisan criticism that Carlson’s segment has received should serve as a wakeup call and prompt networks to stay away from making inflammatory, irresponsible statements about matters of national importance.