Chris Lange, FISM News
Fox News host Tucker Carlson confirmed to Axios on Monday that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had given him exclusive access to 41,000 hours of never-before-seen Capitol surveillance footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, riot.
“Carlson TV producers were on Capitol Hill last week to begin digging through the trove, which includes multiple camera angles from all over Capitol grounds,” Axios reported. “Excerpts will begin airing in the coming weeks.”
The now-defunct Jan. 6 select committee that was formed to investigate the Capitol breach previously released excerpts from eight hours of surveillance footage recorded between noon and 8:00 p.m. that day. In March 2021, the Justice Department classified the footage as “highly sensitive government material” which subjected the videos to stringent protective orders.
American Greatness noted in its reporting on the story that that the orders “did not apply to House Democrats, who accessed surveillance clips to use in the second impeachment of [former President] Donald Trump and the January 6 select committee.”
The Jan. 6 committee was slammed by Republican lawmakers as a partisan witch hunt from its inception, claiming that it was set up by Democrats to promote a preconceived narrative of the events surrounding the riots. Conservatives have said the release of all footage was needed to provide transparency for the American public and give context to clips that the committee chose to air.
The additional footage turned over to Carlson includes 16 additional hours of previously unreleased video.
J6 COMMITTEE CHAIR DEMANDS EXPLANATION
House Homeland Security Committee ranking Democrat Bennie Thompson (Miss.), a member of the select committee, on Monday slammed McCarthy for allegedly exposing the U.S. to “security risks” in turning the footage over to Carlson. Thomson further implied that Carlson was not trustworthy due to his conservative views.
“It’s hard to overstate the potential security risks if this material were to be used irresponsibly,” Thompson said in a statement to The Hill.
“If Speaker McCarthy has indeed granted Tucker Carlson — a Fox host who routinely spreads misinformation and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s poisonous propaganda — and his producers access to this sensitive footage, he owes the American people an explanation of why he has done so and what steps he has taken to address the significant security concerns at stake,” Thompson said.
McCarthy, who has not yet commented publicly on the report, told reporters on January 12 that he supported making the tapes public.
“I think the American public should see all what happened instead of a report that’s written for a political basis,” he said, referring to the January 6 select committee’s final report.
FOOTAGE WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO JAN. 6 DEFENDANTS
Carlson has repeatedly accused the select committee of “lying” about what really happened on Jan. 6 and has referred to its probe and televised prime time hearings as political “propaganda.” In 2021, he produced “Patriot Purge,” a documentary series highlighting alleged discrepancies and omissions in the widespread narrative of a violent insurrection that included firsthand witness accounts and cell phone footage that appeared to show Capitol police officers waving protesters inside the Capitol building.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), one of several Republicans who have demanded the release of the footage, said in a tweet that the recordings will be made available to lawyers representing Jan. 6 defendants, many of whom are facing or have already been indicted on insurrection or related charges.
“Americans deserve to see the truth, not a one sided narrative and unfair two tiered justice system,” the Georgia lawmaker said in a separate tweet.
Lawyers for the defendants have long complained that they had been prevented from gaining access to the surveillance video which has significantly inhibited their ability to defend their clients against the charges.
‘ROADMAP FOR 2024 INSURRECTION’
Meanwhile, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who also served on the now-defunct J6 committee, suggested that the release of the footage may present a “roadmap for [a] 2024 insurrection” in a tweet.
“McCarthy giving 40,000 hrs of Jan. 6 tape to a pro-Putin journalist is an astounding ethical collapse. What security precautions were taken to keep this from becoming a roadmap for 2024 insurrection? Why isn’t it available to all media & public?” he wrote, adding: “Smell the MAGA propaganda coming.”
Carlson, however, argued that “there was never any legitimate reason for this footage to remain secret.”
“If there was ever a question that’s in the public’s interest to know, it’s what actually happened on January 6. By definition, this video will reveal it. It’s impossible for me to understand why any honest person would be bothered by that,” he said.
FISM reported in December that House Republicans who were denied seats on the select committee conducted a separate probe of the Capitol breach aimed at discovering how and why the Capitol Police failed to prevent it. This report stood in contrast to the select committee’s singular focus on Trump’s alleged role in the events.
The committee released a 141-page report on their findings which pointed to several significant security failures and “internal politics” that the lawmakers said left the congressional buildings and lawmakers vulnerable. That same month, the Jan. 6 committee voted unanimously to recommend that the Justice Department charge Trump with obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and insurrection.