Republicans slam Fox News’ Tucker Carlson over Capitol riot clips

Senate Republicans and Capitol police have criticised Fox News after one of its hosts aired previously unseen clips of the riot two years ago at Congress, and played down the violent disorder.

Host Tucker Carlson showed the video on Monday night, arguing it “does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress”, but rather “mostly peaceful chaos”.

A top congressional Republican gave Mr Carlson exclusive access to the video.

But some Republicans say the Fox host mischaracterised the raid on Congress.

The top-rated host on Fox News, a conservative network, has long insisted that other media outlets exaggerated violence at the Capitol on 6 January 2021, when Trump supporters stormed the complex as lawmakers met to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. He has also suggested without evidence that government agents could have instigated the riot.

In the roughly 45-minute segment, Mr Carlson said the video showed that while a minority of protesters did commit violence, most were “sightseers”.

His show on Tuesday night included an interview with Tarik Johnson, a former Capitol Police officer who said he donned a pro-Trump red hat during the riot in order to help fellow officers escape the melee.

Mr Carlson questioned why intelligence about possible violence that day wasn’t relayed to rank-and-file officers, but he did not broadcast much new video from the riot.

Criticism of Monday’s segment came from Democrats as well as top Republicans in Washington, the head of the Capitol police, and the family of a police officer whose death was mentioned by Mr Carlson in the show.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday it had been a “mistake 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” about the riot.

Mr McConnell pointed to an internal memo by Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger, whose agency is responsible for protecting the buildings where the lawmakers meet.

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell shows reporters a copy of the memo

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell shows reporters a copy of the memo
In that memo, Mr Manger says the primetime Monday broadcast was “filled with offensive and misleading conclusions about the January 6 attack”.

“The programme conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video,” he wrote.

“The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments.”

During Monday’s programme, the Fox host showed footage of the “QAnon Shaman” – a man named Jacob Chansley – wandering around the Capitol building trailed by police officers who show no signs, at least in the clips broadcast, of attempting to stop or arrest him.

Chansley, who was bare-chested and wearing a headdress made of fur and horns that day, became one of the most recognisable figures from the Capitol riot.

He pleaded guilty in September 2021 to obstructing an official proceeding and is currently serving a 41-month prison sentence.