Everyone predicted that this would be the end result of “Traitor” Kevin McCarthy making Capitol security video from the MAGA insurrection on January 6, 2021 exclusively available to Comrade Tucker Carlson at the Fox News fascist propaganda network.
Media Matters warned, Kevin McCarthy wanted Jan. 6 propaganda from Tucker Carlson, and that’s what he’ll get:
If House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) interest in the more than 40,000 hours of security footage from the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was primarily transparency, he would have made it available to the press or the public. If he believed the House select committee that investigated the storming of the U.S. Capitol by violent Trumpists bent on overturning the 2020 election had engaged in malfeasance, he’d have turned the footage over to a Republican-controlled House committee for review.
But rather than taking either of those routes, last month McCarthy instead gave Fox News star Tucker Carlson and his staff exclusive access to the footage. He’s done that because he wants what Carlson is among the best at creating: propaganda.
Carlson has spent the last two years spinning up a sinister, fraudulent alternative to the standard narrative about January 6, which he describes as a “wholly created myth.” His story conveniently excuses former President Donald Trump, other Republican officials like McCarthy, and Fox hosts like himself for promoting the lies about election fraud that brought the mob to the Capitol.
On Carlson’s show, federal “agents provocateurs” generated the attack as a pretext to purge righteous conservative patriots like his own viewers from public life. In his telling, the Trumpists who took over the Capitol were simply “a mob of older people from unfashionable zip codes” who “wandered freely through the Capitol like it was their building or something”; the law enforcement officers who risked their lives and were injured during the assault deserve mockery; and Ashli Babbit, who was shot and killed during the riot while trying to breach the Speaker’s Lobby, is a martyr.
Victimhood is critical to Fascist propaganda. Ashli Babbitt as the 21st-century Horst Wessel: Symbolic martyr to the fascist cause:
There’s a disturbing historical echo behind Trump and his supporters’ effort to manipulate Babbitt’s death this way, an echo also clearly referenced in Rod Serling’s script for the “He’s Alive” Twilight Zone episode. That would be the case of Horst Wessel, who became for Hitler and the Nazi Party what Babbitt may now be for the Trump.
Born in the German city of Bielefeld in 1907, Wessel was a law school dropout who joined the SA or “brownshirts,” the Nazi Party’s paramilitary organization, during the waning days of the Weimar Republic in the late 1920s. He was perhaps more like a member of the contemporary Proud Boys or Oath Keepers; we still don’t know how deeply Ashli Babbitt was involved with right-wing extremism. At any rate, Wessel impressed future Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, helped organize the Nazi youth movement in Vienna and staged or led numerous violent street clashes in Berlin with Communists — the antifa of their day, more or less. Wessel fancied himself as a tough guy and sought out situations where he could act out his macho impulses. Given that, his death almost had elements of farce. After a dispute with his Communist landlady — which was likely over unpaid rent, not politics — Wessel was shot on the street by two other Communists on Jan. 14, 1930. He died in a hospital a few weeks later, three years before the Nazis took power in Germany.
Wessel looks like a distinctly mediocre individual in the historical rear-view mirror, but the Nazis transformed his life and death into legend. In a campaign approved by Hitler and led by Goebbels, Nazi propaganda outlets depicted him as a hero. His funeral procession was viewed by 30,000 people who lined the streets of Berlin. He become the subject of a major motion picture and was honored by numerous monuments and books. A song Wessel had written for the SA the year before he died, later universally known as the “Horst Wessel Song,” became an unofficial anthem of the Third Reich: According to a 1934 law, every German citizen had to give the “Hitler greeting” upon hearing it.
As far as we know, Ashli Babbitt didn’t write a song and had no previous history of right-wing violence. But like Wessel, she cannot be described as a peaceful protester or even an overzealous advocate for a dubious cause. She died in a violent attack against democracy, as part of the first serious effort in American history to overturn an election by force. She died based on the lies of a would-be authoritarian dictator, the first American president to resist leaving office after losing an election. Her death was a personal tragedy, no doubt. But now the cynical movement that sent her to die in the Capitol wants to exploit that tragedy by turning her into a martyr for fascism. We’ve seen that before, and we’ve seen where that can lead — to a place even darker than the Twilight Zone.
The Washington Post reports:
Former president Donald Trump continued Tuesday to voice solidarity with the mob that overran the U.S. Capitol more than two years ago, writing in a social media post, “LET THE JANUARY 6 PRISONERS GO. THEY WERE CONVICTED, OR ARE AWAITING TRIAL, BASED ON A GIANT LIE, A RADICAL LEFT CON JOB,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, his social media platform.
More: The Washington Post reported, the former president’s support for those who joined a mob and attacked the U.S. Capitol has reached a new level: He’s collaborated on a song with a group of Jan. 6 inmates.
Trump and the prisoners — dubbed the “J6 Prison Choir” — released “Justice for All” on Thursday, a roughly 2 1/2-minute track that features the former president reciting the Pledge of Allegiance cut with the inmates singing the national anthem. The track ends with the prisoners chanting “USA! USA! USA!” in the same cadence that rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” on the day of the insurrection.
Trump recorded his part of the track at Mar-a-Lago last month, while the inmates sang over a jailhouse phone. A HuffPost report added, “On YouTube, Trump is credited as the composer of the track.”
With McCarthy’s help, Carlson is promising more of the same to come. On Thursday, the Fox host alleged that previously, “a tiny group of people gets to make up stories about what happened that day and change the country on the basis of those stories.” But now that his team has gotten access to the footage, he claimed, all that will change.
“They are lying. And we know that because we’ve been looking at the tape,” he claimed. “We’re going to bring you information on the tape and some of it next week and we think it’s going to be really, really interesting.”
McCarthy’s gift is in part a fulfillment of Carlson’s own demand. In early January, as McCarthy scrapped and clawed for the support necessary to gain the speakership, Carlson cited releasing all files and video related to January 6 online as something he could offer to win over House Republicans. Carlson’s team will get to cherry-pick what they want from the footage instead of it being released to the public, but the request is pretty close to what McCarthy eventually did. (McCarthy also carried out Carlson’s other suggestion, establishing a House select subcommittee on “the weaponization of the federal government.”)
It’s not difficult to predict what Carlson is going to do with it. The Fox host’s history of deceptively editing and recontextualizing video to serve his false narratives is so robust that it is unwise to believe anything he says about a particular clip. And now he has more than 40,000 hours of footage to play with that no honest journalist can currently access.
Carlson will find some snippets from the footage, take them out of context, lie about what they show, and argue that this proves that everyone else has been lying about January 6. It doesn’t really matter what he seizes on to do this — the “myth” he claims to be debunking is that violent Trumpists stormed the Capitol and assaulted scores of law enforcement, so perhaps he’ll dig up some clips he will claim show calmer moments between the rioters and the police, or law enforcement using excessive force during the melee, or rioters he says looks suspiciously like feds.
More credible journalists, hamstrung in any effort to debunk his claims in a timely fashion because they won’t have access to the video until later, if ever, will be pressured by the right to promote his stories as bombshells and denounced if they show skepticism. The result will bolster Carlson’s influence at Fox and within the GOP, while sending his viewers and other Republicans deeper into the conspiratorial fever swamps.
That is apparently what McCarthy wants. It is ludicrous for the speaker to argue that January 6 was a “very serious attack” but that it is important to get “sunshine” on the situation by giving the footage to Carlson. The Fox host’s noxious conspiracy theories about January 6 are not a secret — several of his former colleagues very publicly broke with the network over them. And just days before news of the speaker’s arrangement with Carlson broke, Dominion Voting Systems released a filing in its $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox which revealed that Carlson and the network’s other stars and its top executives had been fully aware that Trump’s election fraud claims had been false, but promoted them anyway to keep their viewers happy.
There was never any plausible chance that Carlson’s team would look at the footage and decide to tell their audience that it proved they had been wrong all along. He’s not an impartial finder of fact — he’s a propagandist who is in the business of telling his viewers what they want to hear. In this case, they want to believe that they and their political fellow travelers were the victims, so that’s what they are going to hear.
Steve Benen reports, Carlson’s segment slammed as ‘a low point for Speaker McCarthy’:
When Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer appeared on the chamber floor this morning, the New York Democrat made no effort to hide his disgust with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. After seeing the television personality cherry pick Jan. 6 footage to create an outlandish counter-narrative, Schumer called the coverage “one of the most shameful hours we have ever seen on cable television.”
Tucker Carlson is siding with the enemies of democracy.
Here’s what I just said on the Senate floor: pic.twitter.com/WZvhXh1rNU
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 7, 2023
He went on to say the host “was lying to his audience,” adding, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen an anchor treat the American people, and American democracy, with such disdain.”
But Carlson wasn’t the only target of the Senate leader’s ire. From Schumer’s remarks:
“Speaker McCarthy is every bit as culpable as Mr. Carlson. Speaker McCarthy’s decision to share security footage with Fox looked like a mistake from the very beginning, but after last night, it looks like a disaster. Speaker McCarthy has played a treacherous — a treacherous — game by catering to the hard right. He’s enabled the Big Lie and has further eroded away at our precious democracy. When people don’t believe elections are on the level, that is the beginning of the end of this bold experiment in democracy that has gone on for more than two hundred years. It is all the more shameful because Speaker McCarthy knows precisely what kind of customer Mr. Carlson is — he is not surprised by this outcome.”
Schumer, who has not gone out of his way of late to pick fights with the new leader of the lower chamber, concluded, “What a low point for Speaker McCarthy. … Speaker McCarthy was here that day. He knows what actually happened. His staff and members suffered like everyone else. But he chose cheap political expediency over truth and preservation of democracy.”
It’s an important detail. Much of the focus since last night has been on Carlson, which obviously makes sense: The controversial host and his team are the ones who requested special access, went through the footage, selected the parts that told the story they wanted to tell, and painted a misleading picture for the public.
But this was inevitable. Everyone knew this is exactly what Carlson would do.
"… and I'll still support Trump if he's the nominee." https://t.co/p109ZR1HQN
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) March 7, 2023
Fox News faces financial ruin from the potential judgment in the Dominion Voting systems defamation lawsuit. Fox News needs to be stripped of its broadcast licenses. It is not a news organization. It is the propaganda arm of the MAGA Fascist Republican Party. Yellow journalism mogul Rupert Murdoch and his evil spawn should be stripped of their naturalized citizenship and deported back to Australia. (It’s not possible, but in a just world this is what should happen.)
Tucker wants @FoxNews to pay the full $1.6 billion, publicly apologize and then leave the network for his own boondoggle. https://t.co/vifSGyHNOs
— Reed Galen (@reedgalen) March 7, 2023
The U.S. should exchange Putin’s chief propagandist Tucker Carlson for Paul Whelan, an American wrongfully held as a prisoner in Russia. Put him on an airplane and drop him over the Kremlin from 30,000 feet – without a parachute. “Watch your step, Comrade! Oops! Forgot your chute.”
“Traitor” Kevin McCarthy should be gone, yesterday. He cannot continue to be Speaker of the House or even a member of Congress. He led the 147 Republican lawmakers who still objected to the election results even after the Capitol attack on January 6. Special Counsel Jack Smith needs to prosecute every one of these co-conspirators and traitors who tried to overthrow American democracy on January 6. Enough is enough! Indict them already!
MAGA Fascists do not “back the blue” who were the Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police, 140 of whom were injured defending our Capitol against MAGA domestic terrorists on January 6, CNN reports, “US Capitol Police chief rips into Tucker Carlson over ‘offensive’ use of January 6 footage”, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/07/politics/capitol-police-tucker-carlson-january-6-footage/
US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger on Tuesday ripped into Fox News host Tucker Carlson over his commentary about footage from the January 6, 2021, insurrection that he aired Monday night, saying the host “cherry-picked” from the footage to present “offensive” and “misleading” conclusions about the attack.
“Last night an opinion program aired commentary that was filled with offensive and misleading conclusions about the January 6 attack,” Manger wrote in an internal department memo obtained by CNN, adding that Carlson’s show didn’t reach out to the police department “to provide accurate context.”
“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,” Manger said.
[In] the memo, Manger specifically called out Carlson’s decision to air never-before-seen surveillance footage that he said showed USCP officer Brian Sicknick, who died one day after the January 6 insurrection. Carlson said he focused on this because Democrats have turned Sicknick into a “prop” and a “martyr” by overstating the links between his death and the insurrection.
Carlson used the new video to try to undermine the known facts surrounding Sicknick’s death, and to argue that January 6 was less violent and “deadly” than it has been portrayed.
“Finally, the most disturbing accusation from last night was that our late friend and colleague Brian Sicknick’s death had nothing to do with his heroic actions on January 6,” Manger wrote. “The Department maintains, as anyone with common sense would, that had Officer Sicknick not fought valiantly for hours on the day he was violently assaulted, Officer Sicknick would not have died the next day.”
The chief also heaped praise on his force for their work defending the Capitol the day of the attack, writing: “You fought like hell on January 6 and risked your lives to protect the Constitution and everything this country stands for. You, along with our law enforcement partners, saved every member of Congress and their staff.”
According to the Justice Department, 140 officers were assaulted at the Capitol that day, including 60 Metropolitan Police officers and 80 USCP officers.