The chief of Capitol Police blasted Tucker Carlson’s characterization of the January 6th attack on the Capitol, calling the Fox News host’s conclusions “offensive and misleading.”
In an internal memo, chief Thomas Manger wrote, “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.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy provided Carlson and his staff with access to more than 40,000 hours of surveillance footage from January 6. That drew an outcry from Democrats, who claimed that it would jeopardize Capitol security and that Carlson would use it to try to present a revisionist history of what happened that day.
On his show, Carlson used footage of protesters wandering through the halls of the Capitol to try to downplay the attack.
“These were not insurrectionists. They were sightseers. Footage from inside the Capitol overturns the story you have heard about January 6,” Carlson said.
In his letter, Manger wrote that “one false allegation is that our officers helped the rioters and acted as ‘tour guides.’ This is outrageous and false. The 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 descalation tactics to try to talk rioters into getting each other to leave the building.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also criticized Carlson, holding up Manger’s letter in agreement.
“My concern is how it was depicted…Clearly the chief of Capitol Police, in my view, correctly describes what most of us witnessed first hand on January 6th….It was a mistake for Fox News to depict this in a way that is completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official at the Capitol thinks.”
Other Republicans, including Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), told CNN that they also disagreed with Carlson’s characterization. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) called it “bulls—.”
Carlson plans to show additional footage on Tuesday evening. A spokesperson for the network did not immediately return a request for comment.
Manger also cited Carlson’s comments about Officer Brian Sicknick, who died the day after the attack. The Fox News host showed footage he said depicted Sicknick walking in the Capitol after he fought with rioters outside. Carlson said, “By all appearances, Sicknick is healthy and vigorous,” and then added that “whatever happened to Brian Sicknick was very obviously not the result of violence he suffered at the entrance at the Capitol.”
“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,” Manger wrote. The District of Columbia medical examiner said that he died of natural causes, but said that “all that transpired played a role in his condition.”
He added, “TV commentary will not record the truth for the history books. The justice system will. The truth and justice are on our side.”
Sicknick’s family also issued a statement condemning Carlson’s remarks.
Others also weighed in. Historian Ken Burns called Carlson’s characterization of the attacks as “rewriting of history at the most dangerous level. It is a huge threat to our republic.”
On the floor of the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Carlson’s show “one of the most shameful hours we have ever seen on cable television.” He said that Carlson had “contempt for the facts, disregard of the risks, and knowing full well he was lying, lying to his audience.”
“He tried to argue that [the January 6th attack] was nothing more than a peaceful sightseeing tour. Can you imagine? A non violent demonstration. A perfectly fine and appropriate instance of people expressing their opinion. I, so many others who were here in the Capitol, and millions and millions of others are just furious with Tucker Carlson and Kevin McCarthy today.”
On his show, Carlson tried to claim that mainstream media outlets were trying to prevent the January 6th footage from being released, spinning his effort as a matter of transparency. In fact, a number of news organizations have called on McCarthy to release footage to other outlets.
More to come.
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