Senate Republican Leader McConnell slams Fox and Tucker Carlson for Jan. 6 portrayal

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says he agrees with a letter by the Capitol Police chief as he speaks to reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

J. Scott Applewhite / J. Scott Applewhite

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell joined a chorus of widespread attacks on Fox News host Tucker Carlson for his portrayal of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol since he accessed more than 40,000 hours of security footage.

Carlson and his team had exclusive access to the security tape surrounding the attack thanks to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, drawing concerns the host would use the tapes to spread a new wave of disinformation.

McConnell said he aligned himself with remarks issued earlier Tuesday by U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger to his rank-and-file slamming Carlson’s “offensive and misleading conclusions” about the siege. He held up Manger’s one-page statement — called “Truth & Justice” — near the Senate chamber on Tuesday.

“It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks,” McConnell told reporters.

Earlier Tuesday, Manger asked his statement be read at roll call meetings for rank-and-file and posted on all Capitol Police bulletin boards. Manger listed out a series of falsehoods portrayed by Fox:

  • Carlson pushed “outrageous and false” allegations that officers acted as “tour guides.” Manger refuted that characterization saying that officers who were severely outnumbered were using “de-escalation tactics to try to talk rioters.
  • The program “cherry-picked from the calmer moments” outside the violent attack to push a false narrative dismissing the violence of the siege.
  • The Fox News host claimed fallen officer Brian Sicknick’s death had “nothing to do with his heroic actions on January 6.” The department maintains, Manger wrote, “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.”

“TV commentary will not record the truth for our history books,” Manger said in closing. “The justice system will. The truth and justice are on our side.”

McConnell said Manger’s comments are the correct view. But the Senate Republican leader stopped short of criticizing the House speaker when asked if McCarthy made a mistake in giving Carlson access to the security footage. McConnell responded by saying, “My concern is how it was depicted, which is a different issue.”

“Clearly the chief of the Capitol Police, in my view, correctly describes what most of us witnessed firsthand on January 6. So that’s my reaction to it,” he said.

Earlier this month, McCarthy confirmed reports that he had allowed the release of the extensive footage to Carlson as an exclusive. Carlson began a two-part show series on the violent attack last night with the false claims, continuing a previous theme by the host.

Already, Democrats had warned it was a dangerous move. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer doubled down on those concerns speaking to reporters after McConnell’s remarks.

“Last night, Fox News, with Speaker McCarthy as a willing, capable and powerful accomplice, aired one of the most shameful hours we have ever seen in the history — in the entire history of cable television,” Schumer said. “Tucker Carlson is a propagandist publicly pretending to be a newsman.”

Alluding to revelations in a case brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News, Schumer said the network’s efforts have been outed and that “they’re liars.”

Both Fox News and McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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