Kevin McCarthy Hands the January 6 Video Over to a January 6 Riot Promoter

Kevin McCarthy Hands the January 6 Video Over to a January 6 Riot Promoter

Kevin McCarthy Hands the January 6 Video Over to a January 6 Riot Promoter

The speaker’s move to give 44,000 hours of video footage to insurrection fan Tucker Carlson endangers national security and proves McCarthy’s a captive to extremists.


In a shocking move that has so far been weirdly under-covered by the media, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy handed over roughly 44,000 hours of video footage of the January 6 insurrection to Fox News’s top sedition promoter, Tucker Carlson. Exclusively. Axios reported it Monday afternoon; Carlson confirmed it on his show Monday night.

Last seen, in a court filing released last week, worrying that debunking Donald Trump’s lies about the “theft” of the 2020 election was tanking the network’s stock price, Carlson has repeatedly defended the insurrectionists, suggesting that the FBI or other “deep state” forces actually touched off the violence, that it was a “false flag” operation. A propaganda film he created about the riot was so full of lies it drove conservative (but not batshit-crazy) news anchor Chris Wallace from Fox to CNN. Carlson is an embarrassment not only to Fox but to the entire nation.

As January 6 committee member Representative Jamie Raskin immediately tweeted last night:


The move seems to be part of the deal McCarthy made with far-right caucus members to become House Speaker (or SINO, as I like to call him: Speaker In Name Only). His crucial ally Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene quickly took credit on Twitter.

Hours earlier, mind you, Greene had used her Twitter account to call for a second Civil War in which red states secede. (You say secession, I say sedition.) Unfortunately for Marge, her state of Georgia is purple and growing bluer all the time. She might have to decamp for other places to join her imagined red nation.

There are other reasons McCarthy did this. He promised, before he became speaker, to hold hearings on the alleged security failures that led to the January 6 attack—and he seemed to think that could shame the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate. It’s also a way of courting Carlson, who has repeatedly criticized McCarthy as not being conservative enough.

Carlson will likely use selectively edited video to “exonerate” some of the January 6 insurrectionists, even those who’ve already been convicted. More than one defense team has tried to use certain video clips to “prove” that their clients stood apart from the attack, or were “invited” into the Capitol; the Justice Department has been able to provide other clips with other angles that show the lawbreakers breaking the law. Invaluable security blogger Marcy Wheeler has documented the way Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean tried this and failed.

Wheeler has long reported on possible security implications of releasing all of the video. (Federal prosecutors and the Capitol Police have opposed the release of some of the footage because it could expose the way legislators and staff escaped from the danger, as well as potential security vulnerabilities.) A Wheeler post from December 2021 exposed how video of the tunnel through which Biden walked on Inauguration Day revealed the location of cameras (which have presumably been moved). She posted again today on the implications of the release to Carlson. “Everyone seems [caught] rather flat-footed by this announcement so it may take some days or weeks [for those who oppose the release] to devise a response,” she remarked in comments to Tuesday’s post.

As Wheeler and Raskin note, Carlson is a Vladimir Putin apologist and a fan of autocrat Viktor Orbán who actually broadcast last year from Hungary. He promotes not only testicle tanning but autocracy as well. So Carlson is getting ready to expose the Capitol’s security vulnerabilities to enemies within the country and outside of it.

Carlson himself confirmed the deal Monday on his highly rated nightly freak show.

“For really more than two years now we’ve been complaining about the fact that the U.S. Congress has held thousands, tens of thousands of hours of camera footage from the public from January 6th,” he told his viewers. Carlson then said he’d been granted access to the 44,000 hours last week. “Some of our smartest producers have been there looking at this stuff and trying to figure out…how it contradicts or not the story we’ve been told for more than two years. We think already that in some ways it does contradict that story,” he added.

Of course it does, Tucker. Once your paid-to-lie team gets through with it.

If the 44,000 hours of footage don’t compromise Capitol security—and I have no way of knowing—then why not release it widely, to other news organizations, not just Faux News? Why not make it available to the public? I really don’t have an answer to that. (It’s possible that as Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer could release it more widely.) Hoping other news media, as well as Democrats, get access to what Carlson will surely distort.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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