Why Is the Most Powerful Member of the House Handing Over January 6 Footage to Tucker Carlson?
Kevin McCarthy’s decision shows how little he cares about Fox News’s long-standing gag on its own viewers.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has gifted exclusive access to 41,000 hours of surveillance footage from the January 6 attack on the Capitol to Fox’s Tucker Carlson. According to Axios, Carlson’s producers visited Capitol Hill last week to begin their endeavor of poring over the tapes. The footage is said to begin hitting the airwaves on Carlson’s shows in the coming weeks.
McCarthy’s treat to the extremist TV host comes as part of the numerous concessions McCarthy made to a select group of far-right Republicans in exchange for their speakership votes. He pledged to make all the security footage from January 6 public, which apparently means tying it all up in a bow for Carlson to exclusively and selectively present on his shows to construct conspiracy theories with.
One of McCarthy’s bargaining intransigents, Representative Lauren Boebert, hailed the decision:
Again, however, despite Boebert’s celebration, funneling footage of a domestic riot to only one member of an extremist media organization is not releasing the footage to “the public.”
McCarthy’s gift to Carlson comes while newly revealed texts showed that Carlson and many of his Fox News colleagues, like Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, don’t really buy much of the conspiratorial content surrounding the 2020 presidential election that they themselves push.
As Fox producer Justin Wells texted Carlson’s producer: “We’re threading a needle that has to be thread because of the dumb fucks at Fox on Election Day. We can’t make people think we’ve turned against Trump. Yet also call out the bullshit. You and I see through it. But we have to reassure some in the audience.”
McCarthy’s decision shows he supports Fox’s long-standing gag on its own viewers. Fox anchors like Carlson and members of Congress like Boebert will posture the move as an act of radical transparency, suggesting the clips to be newly unearthed as if the January 6 hearings didn’t already show Americans and the world the havoc of the riots.
Perhaps the move is an attempt to dilute the reality of how violent the riot was: just present thousands of hours of inaction or argue that the larger majority of protesters were simply expressing their First Amendment right to free speech. Maybe Carlson will spend dedicated segments railing against the Capitol police, trying out ways to blame those defending the Capitol and divert blame away from the people attacking it. Whatever Carlson plans to do with the tapes, the move by the most powerful member of the House to coordinate with an extremist media giant is audacious enough to warrant its own “Twitter Files”–esque outrage from those who claim to take issue with such actions—but don’t hold your breath.