‘Tucker Carlson is not credible’: White House condemns ‘false’ Fox News coverage of ‘violent’ Jan 6 attack

White House says Fox News put forward ‘false depiction of the unprecedented, violent attack on our Constitution and the rule of law’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 08 March 2023 18:35 GMT
Anderson Cooper says Tucker Carlson would have ‘wet his pants’ at January 6 riot

The White House has condemned Fox News’ recent coverage of the January 6, 2021 insurrection, saying that host Tucker Carlson “is not credible”.

“We agree with the chief of the Capitol Police and the wide range of bipartisan lawmakers who have condemned this false depiction of the unprecedented, violent attack on our Constitution and the rule of law – which cost police officers their lives,” a White House spokesperson said in a statement obtained by The Independent. “We also agree with what Fox News’s own attorneys and executives have now repeatedly stressed in multiple courts of law: that Tucker Carlson is not credible.”

The White House pointed to arguments made by Fox lawyers in 2020 when defending Mr Carlson against allegations of slander.

A US District Judge was “leaning heavily on the arguments of Fox’s lawyers,” NPR reported at the time.

Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil wrote in her opinion that the “‘general tenor’ of the show should then inform a viewer that [Carlson] is not ‘stating actual facts’ about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary’”.

“Fox persuasively argues, that given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer ‘arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statement he makes,” she added.

The judge, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote: “Whether the Court frames Mr. Carlson’s statements as ‘exaggeration,’ ‘non-literal commentary,’ or simply bloviating for his audience, the conclusion remains the same — the statements are not actionable.”

The senior vice president for weekend news and programming at Fox News, David Clark, said in his deposition that he was in charge of overseeing the Sunday Morning Futures with host Maria Bartiromo. When he was asked if he believed the programme to be a “credible source of news,” he said, “I don’t know,” according to The Washington Post.

A lawyer for the company suing Fox for defamation, Dominion Voting Systems, asked Mr Clark, “you don’t know as the executive in charge of Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo, whether her show is a credible source of news?”

“I am going to answer the question yes,” Mr Clark said. He added that he thinks Sean Hannity viewers watch the programme because they think it’s a credible news source, but Mr Clark said he doesn’t see it that way.

“It’s an opinion show,” he said. “It’s not a news show.”

He made a similar statement about Tucker Carlson’s programme.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy handed over more than 40,000 hours of surveillance footage from the attack, allowing the Fox News host to cherry-pick moments from the siege on Congress by Trump supporters to pretend that they were simply “orderly and meek” sightseers.

Several Republicans criticised Mr Carlson after his initial broadcast with the footage on Monday.

“I think it’s bulls***,” Republican North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis told reporters, according to Rolling Stone. “I was here. I was down there and I saw maybe a few tourists, a few people who got caught up in things. But when you see police barricades breached, when you see police officers assaulted, all of that … if you were just a tourist you should’ve probably lined up at the visitors’ centre and came in on an orderly basis.”

Kevin Cramer, a GOP Senator from North Dakota, said that “I think that breaking through glass windows and doors to get into the United States Capitol against the borders of police is a crime”.

“I think particularly when you come into the chambers, when you start opening the members’ desks, when you stand up in their balcony — to somehow put that in the same category as, you know, permitted peaceful protest is just a lie,” he told reporters.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor, said that the American people saw what happened on January 6”.

“They’ve seen the people that got injured, they saw the damage to the building. You can’t hide the truth by selectively picking a few minutes out of tapes and saying this is what went on. It’s so absurd. It’s nonsense,” he added.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, told reporters that “it was a mistake in my view for Fox News to depict this in a way that is completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official at the Capitol thinks”.

The chief of the US Capitol Police, Tom Manger, wrote in an internal memo shared with CNN that “last night an opinion program aired commentary that was filled with offensive and misleading conclusions about the January 6 attack”.

“The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video. The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments,” he added.

“I want to associate myself entirely with the opinion of the chief of the Capitol Police about what happened on January 6,” Mr McConnell said, according to NBC News.

Andrew Feinberg contributed reporting.

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