“Most Americans probably assume the chaos of January 6 was the result of intelligence failures or of simple government incompetence,” Carlson says in Part I of the series, titled Patriot Purge. “But direct incitement by federal agents? The intentional entrapment of American citizens? No decent person wants to believe that. But increasingly there’s evidence it is true.”
In the 27-minute episode, Carlson and other talking heads frame the 6 January insurrection as a false flag attack orchestrated by shadowy government forces, and law enforcement’s response to it as a “second war on terror” in which innocent Americans are unfairly persecuted.
The series is being shown on Fox Nation, the streaming service of Fox News Media, which owns Fox News. However, it is not being aired on Fox News itself.
But that separation is not complete. On the TV show Fox & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade spoke to Carlson about his new project, asking him if “you find indications that the FBI was actually pushing for this invasion.”
“There were people working for the FBI in the crowd that day,” Carlson responded on air. “This series is rock-solid factually.”
In one Patriot Purge interview, a security analyst who says he once worked as a US political operative during the Cold War claims 6 January “was a political warfare operation.”
“I saw that this was a coordinated effort, that there are different cadres of agents provocateurs and other troublemakers who had a sort of military-like precision,” says the analyst, J Michael Waller, over ominous music.
Another source, a journalist named Tayler Hansen, says he witnessed left-wing agitators posing as Trump supporters at the Stop the Steal rally and deliberately fomenting violence.
“I saw multiple agitators changing clothes,” Mr Hansen says.
All of these claims have been thoroughly debunked. There is no evidence that the FBI was involved in the Capitol riot, or that left-wing groups incited it in disguise. And one agitator whose words Carlson conspicuously leaves out of his documentary is Donald Trump himself, who directly told the crowd that day to “walk down to the Capitol” and “fight like hell” to “take back our country.”
Later, hours into the riot as Republicans sheltering in the Capitol and his own aides begged him to call the rioters off, the then-president released a video filmed at the White House telling those inside the building to go home, adding “we love you, you’re very special”.
The series has sparked a fierce backlash, including from some conservatives.
“It appears that @FoxNews is giving @TuckerCarlson a platform to spread the same type of lies that provoked violence on January 6,” tweeted Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney. “As @FoxNews knows, the election wasn’t stolen and January 6 was not a ‘false flag’ operation.”
Another Republican representative, Adam Kinzinger, accused Carlson of “abusing his viewers’ trust for more cash.”
“The Murdoch family and @foxnews is cashing in on the back of American democracy,” Mr Kinzinger tweeted. “Pure EVIL.”
Geraldo Rivera, the Republican journalist and Fox News correspondent, also condemned the show’s theories as “inflammatory and outrageous and uncorroborated.”
“I worry that – and I’m probably going to get in trouble for this – but I’m wondering how much is done to provoke, rather than illuminate,” Rivera told The New York Times. “Messing around with January 6 stuff … The record to me is pretty damn clear, that there was a riot that was incited and encouraged and unleashed by Donald Trump.”
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