Fox News host Tucker Carlson, a leading purveyor of disinformation about the 2020 election at his network, will have access to a massive trove of unreleased footage from surveillance cameras around the US Capitol taken during the January 6 insurrection.
It’s a clear move by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to mend ties with the far right; Carlson has long sought to minimise the severity of the attack on Congress and this effort will come as the Department of Justice considers whether to charge Donald Trump or his associates with obstruction of an official proceeding or other crimes.
Mr Carlson has long denounced the efforts of the January 6 select committee in the House as “lies” and has referred to the riot at the Capitol, which led to the deaths of several Capitol Police officers and the temporary delay of the certification of the 2020 election, as “forgettably minor”.
Mr McCarthy’s move to give Carlson the footage was first reported on Monday by Axios.
"If there was ever a question that's in the public's interest to know, it's what actually happened on January 6. By definition, this video will reveal it. It's impossible for me to understand why any honest person would be bothered by that,” the Fox host said in a statement to the news outlet.
Mr McCarthy has previously said that the footage should be released publicly. Apparently, that means giving it first to a right-wing opinion host with a history of describing the riot with language meant to sow doubt about the severity of the attack.
During the attack, dozens of law enforcement personnel were assaulted, with some suffering serious injuries or harm from chemical sprays and makeshift weapons. Black officers were abused with racist language, and lawmakers including the vice president were rushed to secure locations.
In his multi-part docuseries for Fox’s streaming service, Mr Carlson and his guests have suggested that this was actually the result of Capitol Police spurring the crowd to riot by deploying tear gas — an extremely common crowd dispersal tactic used by American law enforcement — while also giving winking nods to the idea that the entire attack was a so-called “false flag” operation.
Mr McCarthy refused to participate in the House’s investigation after two members he nominated to the panel were deemed unfit to serve on it by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Instead, just two Republicans served on the select committee without his approval, and would later go on to lose their seats in Congress as consequence.
The GOP’s control of the House is expected to launch a number of efforts to undercut the work of the January 6 committee, including potential work by Republicans to launch politically-charged investigations into Joe Biden’s family.
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