Thanks to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Fox News host Tucker Carlson now has access to more than 40,000 hours of unreleased surveillance video from the Jan. 6 riot. It’s created quite a bit of consternation and anger in the media.
Of course, if the Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Attack, handpicked by Nancy Pelosi, hadn’t withheld inconvenient evidence from the public in the first place, then McCarthy wouldn’t have had the chance to give the Fox News host anything. Republicans have Fox. The Jan. 6 committee has virtually every other outlet.
Mitch McConnell is also outraged by Carlson’s framing of the surveillance video. Perhaps if the Kentucky senator had voiced outrage when the committee handed unfettered access to a former producer of “Good Morning America” and “Nightline,” so he could create a slick, selectively edited program that made Jan. 6 look like the September Massacres of the French Revolution, we wouldn’t be here. It says a lot about McConnell that he’s more upset by a media personality sharing videos than he is about Chuck Schumer, a government official, demanding a private company censor journalism.
“I could take footage from World War II, find a little piece of it, and convince somebody it’s the moon landing,” former Jan. 6 committee member Adam Kinzinger told CNN’s Anderson Cooper last night. “There’s footage of soldiers [in Vietnam] at their bases hanging out in Saigon,” Cooper responded. “… You can take video of anybody in the course of a day.”
You can. And you can also take footage showing soldiers in Vietnam abusing civilians to create the perception that most servicemen abused civilians. The “mostly peaceful” formulation, typically used by liberals to whitewash leftist violence, is shameful. And so is the partisan fearmongering surrounding Jan. 6.
It’s difficult for me to muster any sympathy for the nutjobs who entered the Capitol building. It’s implausible that most of them didn’t understand what they were doing was wrong, dangerous, or illegal, whether they were just milling about or banging on doors or vandalizing offices. Many, of course, acted in threatening and violent ways. It was a national embarrassment.
None of that makes the dishonest political revisionism of the Jan. 6 committee any truer. It’s clear the QAnon Shaman wasn’t moments away from overthrowing the republic and declaring Donald Trump the king of America. It wasn’t anywhere close to “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War” or the new Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Which is why Democrats conflate the actions of rioters with those of the thousands of people who protested the election results outside, the president who enflamed the crowd with conspiratorial rhetoric, and the politicians who were inside voting on certification. Wrong or right, conspiracists or not, the latter people did not do anything illegal.
Put it this way, the central difference between Jan 6, 2021, and the last day or two of May 2020, when Secret Service agents had to stick Donald Trump into a bunker for hours as a throng of “protesters” began overwhelming security at the White House, some throwing rocks and bottles and trying to break down barricades, was the effectiveness of the police.
Then again, QAnon Shaman, like anyone else accused of rioting, deserves a fair trial. If his lawyer is telling the truth, the defense had no access to video of cops peacefully escorting the man around the Capitol. We have no clue if that footage is exculpatory, but it is clearly relevant. QAnon Shaman was sentenced to over three years in prison, with another nearly three years of probation.
If Cooper were a member of a functioning press, he would have been grilling Kinzinger about his committee’s lack of transparency and denial of basic due process. Pelosi blocked members who could have asked for answers regarding security breakdowns or demanded the release of countervailing evidence or tempered the hyperbole and grandstanding that dominated the hearings.
Cooper knows that journalists “selectively” edit and cherry-pick video all the time. He knows that the Jan. 6 committee “selectively” edited and cherry-picked video, as well. Maybe seeing both narratives gives us a far better sense of what happened that day. There was a riot, not a coup d’etat. And the media should be elated that we have more footage for the historical record. Then again, that was never the point, was it?