Handed some 41,000 hours of Jan. 6 security footage by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has launched an impassioned new effort to reframe the deadly Capitol attack — and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for Carlson to be silenced.
The conservative commentator aired a first installment to millions of viewers on his prime-time show Monday, working to change perceptions of the violence into a narrative more favorable to former President Donald Trump.
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Carlson has invited Schumer on his show to debate the issue, and Schumer accepted… with two conditions.
I was invited on Tucker Carlson’s show.
I will agree to go on after Tucker Carlson admits to his viewers live on air that he has been lying to them about the 2020 elections and about what happened on January 6th.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 8, 2023
The undertaking by Fox News comes as Trump is again running for president, and executives at the highest levels of the cable news giant are fighting defamation lawsuits by Dominion voting systems and others about doubts expressed on-air involving the integrity of the 2020 election.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters that he had no regrets about sharing the footage with Carlson.
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“Each person can come up with their own conclusion,” McCarthy said about what Carlson aired Monday night.
Trump on Tuesday contended that Carlson’s presentation was “irrefutable” evidence that rioters have been wrongly accused of crimes and he thanked the host and the speaker for their work. Carlson praised McCarthy as having “rectified” the official record.
Trump called anew for the release from custody of people who have been convicted or have pleaded guilty to charges from the attack.
At the same time, criticism poured in from Democrats — and many top Republicans, too — over Carlson’s attempt to spin the riot as a mostly peaceful gathering.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said it was a mistake for Fox News to depict the footage as it did — at odds with the Capitol Police assessment and what he and others witnessed firsthand at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
In the roughly 30-minute segment, Fox distilled the thousands of hours of footage of the gruesome scenes at the Capitol that day.
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Fox News did show some of the hand-to-hand combat as rioters attacked police, broke windows, and kicked down doors to gain entry.
But Carlson also emphasized imagery of many of the crowd merely milling about the gilded halls, taking pictures of the surroundings during pauses in the hours-long riot. He showed some police escorting crowd members around and even opening doors for them.
“These were not insurrectionists. They were sightseers,” Carlson said.
The footage he aired focused on one of the highest-profile rioters, Jacob Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman,” garbed in his horned hat and bare chested, as he poked around the building with officers. Chansley pleaded guilty to a felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding and was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
Carlson denounced the Jan. 6 committee led by Democrats in the past Congress, and called out Trump’s chief Republican critics Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger as liars on the panel.
Law enforcement failures on Jan. 6 have been investigated in Congress and acknowledged: Police failed to heed signs of a looming attack and were slow to provide an adequate response, including reinforcement from the National Guard.
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More than half of the roughly 1,000 people charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes have pleaded guilty, including more than 130 who pleaded guilty to felony crimes, according to an Associated Press tally.
Most rioters were charged only with misdemeanor offenses and many have served no prison time.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article