‘Who needs Alex Jones?’: Tucker Carlson’s upcoming special calling 6 January attack ‘false flag’ draws outrage

Far-right figures appeared in promotional clip for upcoming an three-part documentary promoting a baseless conspiracy theory

Andrew Naughtie
Thursday 28 October 2021 17:52
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Tucker Carlson defends 6 January rioters

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Right-wing Fox News host Tucker Carlson has previewed a new three-part documentary that claims the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol was a “false flag” attack – and that Joe Biden and the Democrats are mounting a shadowy campaign to round up right-wing American “patriots”.

Mr Carlson, who in recent years has drawn increasing opprobrium for propagating demonstrably false and often racist conspiracy theories, trailed the upcoming three-episode documentary, “Patriot Purge”, on Wednesday night, describing it as “the best thing we’ve ever done”.

The trailer promises viewers they will be treated to “the true story behind 1/6, the war on terror 2.0, and the plot against the people”. Its central thesis appears to be that the Biden administration has launched a shadow campaign against “half of the country”; as Mr Carlson says in the clip, “the helicopters have left Afghanistan, and now they’ve landed here at home.”

Footage of Joe Biden calling white supremacist terrorism a threat to the American homeland is intercut with scenes of armed people, presumably representing federal officers, barging into American homes.

“The left is hunting the right,” says one of the featured guests, presumably describing the arrest and charging of more than 600 people identified on video footage from 6 January, “sticking them in Guantanamo Bay for American citizens, leaving them there to rot”.

The clip concludes with a claim that the riot may have been a “false flag” operation as military helicopters take off in front of the US Capitol – evoking the “black helicopters” conspiracy theory shared by anti-government groups in the 1990s in particular.

Describing the project on his show, Mr Carlson said: “We’re proud of it. Three episodes we believe answers those unanswered questions from January 6th. That day will affect your life. There’s no question. We hope you’ll watch it.”

The reaction to the trailer from outside the right-wing mediasphere has been appalled, angry – and, in many cases, astonished. Vice News’s David Gilbert compared it to the work of unhinged far-right instigator Alex Jones; some called out Twitter for not banning Mr Carlson, with others describing the clip as “filled with misinformation” and “an incitement for violence and war”.

Also rushing to condemn the trailer were Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the only two Republicans on the House of Representatives select committee set up to investigate the attack. They were joined by Denver Riggleman, a former GOP congressman who is working for the committee as a senior staffer.

Mr Carlson’s documentary will be launched a week after an explosive Rolling Stone report said that several Republican members of Congress and their staff allegedly met with groups and individuals who helped organise the insurrection in the days leading up to it. The magazine reported that the information came from sources involved in the riot who are now co-operating with the select committee.

Among the talking heads featured in the short trailer is Darren Beattie, a far-right agitator and former Trump administration speechwriter who was fired from the White House in 2018 after appearing on a panel at a conference attended by white nationalists. Later hired by hardline Trumpist Congressman Matt Gaetz, he has appeared on Mr Carlson’s show several times, including to promote the “false flag” conspiracy theory. (He also recently discussed his theory on Firebrand, the podcast hosted by Mr Gaetz.)

In one interview with Mr Carlson in September 2020, he joined the host to warn that the Democrats were plotting a “coup” against Mr Trump based on the so-called “colour revolution” template that Russia accuses the US of covertly deploying in post-Soviet countries.

“The chief characteristic of it,” said Mr Beattie, “is a combination of an engineered contested election scenario combined with massive mobilised protests, which they call as a term of art ‘peaceful protests’ and ‘acts of civil disobedience’.”

His words in fact describe precisely what Mr Trump and his supporters openly orchestrated in the weeks before and months after the 2020 election, insisting that Mr Biden could only have won via fraud in spite of all evidence to the contrary while also encouraging and organizing protests against the result across the US. That effort culminated on 6 January with Mr Trump’s “stop the steal” rally at the White House and the ensuing attack on the Capitol. Speaking on his show the day after the insurrection, Mr Carlson explained the riot as “a political protest [that] got out of hand after the president recklessly encouraged it”.

Mr Beattie’s involvement in the documentary has not gone unremarked upon, with the Washington Post’s Philip Bump describing his presence as a giveaway. “He’s your argument that the right is being unfairly targeted for being close to white nationalists?” the journalist wrote.

Mr Beattie responded: “Regime eunuch Philip "bump" is deeply concerned about Tucker Carlson’s upcoming 1/6 documentary[.] Wonder why…”

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