White House criticizes Tucker Carlson for depiction of Jan. 6 attack
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The White House slammed Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson’s misleading coverage of the 2021 violent attack on the US Capitol by a mob of President Donald Trump supporters after the prime-time host aired selectively edited security footage from that day and called it a mostly peaceful thing. event.
“We agree with the Capitol Police Chief and the broad range of bipartisan lawmakers who have condemned this false portrayal of the unprecedented, violent attack on our Constitution and the rule of law — that cost the lives of police officers,” Andrew J Bates, a White House spokesman said in a statement Wednesday.
Bates was referring to comments made Tuesday by Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger, who said Carlson’s Monday night broadcast describing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack as peaceful was “filled with offensive and misleading conclusions.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle also criticized Carlson’s portrayal of the attack, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who echoed Manger’s remarks. McConnell said he didn’t object to Carlson having access to the security video, but to how Carlson framed the events of Jan. 6.
“It was a mistake, in my opinion, for Fox News to portray this in a way that is completely contrary to what our chief law enforcement officer here in the Capitol thinks,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday.
In Wednesday’s statement, Bates went on to say, “We also agree with what Fox News’ lawyers and executives have repeatedly emphasized now in many courts: that Tucker Carlson is not credible,” referring to an argument that Fox News lawyers did while defending Carlson in a 2020 lawsuit in New York.
Analysis: How Tucker Carlson is wrong about January 6th
Later, at the daily White House briefing, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about Carlson, and she emphasized Fox News’ legal arguments that Carlson is not a reliable source of information.
“You literally cannot believe the ‘facts’ that Tucker Carlson tells you,” Jean-Pierre said. “So Say Fox’s Lawyers.”
Carlson, who has downplayed the deadly violence that occurred that day and claimed it was a “false flag” operation, began streaming some of the 41,000 hours of Jan. 6 security footage from the Capitol, to which he was granted exclusive access by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Other news organizations, including The Washington Post, have pressed for access to the footage.
On his shows Monday and Tuesday, Carlson claimed footage proved Trump supporters who entered the Capitol that day were mostly peaceful, with a large number of them no more than tourists admiring their surroundings. Five people died that day or soon after, and 140 police were injured.
“Hundreds and hundreds of people, maybe thousands,” entered the Capitol, Carlson said. “A small percentage of them were hooligans. They committed vandalism. You have seen their pictures again and again. But the vast majority were not. They were calm. They were neat and gentle. These were not insurgents. They were visitors.”
“They’re not destroying the Capitol,” he added later. “They definitely revere the Capitol.”
Carlson also showed video he said was of Capitol Police officers escorting Jacob Chansley, known as “QAnon Shaman,” around the building after it was broken into.
‘Just a lie’: Senate Republicans blast Tucker Carlson’s Jan. 6 narrative
Carlson argued that Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who had a chemical irritant sprayed on him during the riot and who later suffered two strokes and died on Jan. 7, was not the victim of a violent attack.
“Here is surveillance footage of Sicknick walking into the Capitol after he was allegedly killed by the mob outside,” Carlson said. “Apparently, Sicknick is healthy and vigorous.”
Carlson’s misleading and controversial episodes came as Fox News faces a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems, which argues the network knowingly broadcast false claims that Dominion machines were used to help Joe Biden to defeat Trump. As part of the lawsuit, Dominion obtained and has made public messages that Carlson and other Fox executives and on-air talent sent each other privately indicating they did not believe many of the fraud claims they promoted on-air.