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Fox News host Tucker Carlson on March 6 aired newly released security video from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that he said was provided to him by Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Carlson used the footage to falsely portray the riot as a peaceful gathering and to continue pushing long-debunked claims, including that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.
"More than 40,000 hours of surveillance footage from in or around the Capitol have been withheld from the public. And once you see the video, you’ll understand why," Carlson said at the start of the segment. "Taken as a whole, the video record does not support the claim that January 6th was an insurrection. In fact, it demolishes that claim."
Carlson said his team consulted the U.S. Capitol Police about security concerns before airing the footage and were told they only needed to blur one door sign.
But a U.S. Capitol Police spokesperson told PolitiFact the agency received only one clip to review. "We repeatedly requested that any clips be shown to us first for a security review," the spokesperson said. "So far we have only been given the ability to preview a single clip out of the multiple clips that aired."
Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger denounced Carlson’s segment in an internal memo, saying that the opinion program "aired commentary that was filled with offensive and misleading conclusions about the January 6 attack." He also said "Tucker Carlson Tonight" didn’t reach out to the department "to provide accurate context."
Here are some of the other things wrongly depicted in Carlson’s segment, which included guests Miranda Devine, a New York Post reporter, and Charles Hurt, an opinion editor at the Washington Times.
Claim: "The protesters believed that the election they had just voted in had been unfairly conducted, and they were right. In retrospect, it is clear the 2020 election was a grave betrayal of American democracy." — Carlson
This is Pants on Fire!
Former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden. Biden won with 306 electoral votes, to Trump’s 232. Biden won the popular vote by about 7 million.
Allegations of a rigged election have been refuted by audits, judges, federal agencies, state election officials and technology experts, as well as officials and advisers in Trump’s administration.
Claim: "These were not insurrectionists, they were sightseers." — Carlson
This is another Pants on Fire claim. Rioters attacked police, smashed windows, broke doors and ransacked offices. They chanted "Hang Mike Pence!" and caused the House and Senate to shut down for several hours.
The video footage Carlson aired showed only parts of the events at the Capitol that day.
"The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video," Manger, the Capitol Police chief, said in the memo. "The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments."
According to the Justice Department, 140 officers were assaulted at the Capitol that day, including 60 Metropolitan Police officers and 80 Capitol Police officers.
Claim: Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell refused "repeated requests" by the Capitol Police chief "for backup, for the National Guard." — Miranda Devine, New York Post reporter
Previous claims have said that Trump authorized 10,000 or 20,000 National Guard troops (the number depending on the claimant) to protect the Capitol and that Pelosi "rejected" it. But we found no record of any such authorization being made, or of Pelosi impeding it. The D.C. National Guard reports "solely to the president of the United States," per its website.
"The Speaker of the House doesn’t have the power to do this," Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill told PolitiFact in June. "No request was made for the National Guard before Jan. 6."
"No congressional official, or body, has the authority to activate the National Guard to the U.S. Capitol. Only the president," Jane. L Campbell, president and CEO of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, also said in June.
Claim: Capitol Police officers "helped" QAnon Shaman Jacob Chansley and "acted as his tour guides." — Carlson
Like similar claims, we rated this Pants on Fire! Chansley was among the first rioters to force their way into the building through a door broken by other rioters. Officers repeatedly asked Chansley to leave the building. This is corroborated by the plea agreement Chansley signed and an officer’s account of the events.
Manger called Carlson’s claim "outrageous and false," and said officers used de-escalation tactics to try to talk rioters into getting each other to leave the Capitol.
Claim: Video shows the media lied about Brian Sicknick’s manner of death. — Carlson
This is misleading. Sicknick, a 42-year-old Capitol Police officer, died the day after the Jan. 6 assault. Initial news reports, citing law enforcement sources, said he had been struck on the head with a fire extinguisher. Follow-up coverage challenged that, saying he had been sprayed with a form of mace, and that the cause of death remained unclear.
On April 19, 2021, the medical examiner, Dr. Francisco J. Diaz, determined that Sicknick died from two strokes at the base of his brain caused by a blood clot. Diaz told The Washington Post that there were no signs of injury or evidence that Sicknick had an allergic reaction to irritants, and that Sicknick died of natural causes.
But Diaz also noted that Sicknick was among the officers who engaged the mob and said "all that transpired played a role in his condition."
In Carlson’s attempt to vilify the media, he also used new video to support his argument that the riot wasn’t that violent and to undermine the details about Sicknick’s death.
Carlson pointed to surveillance footage that he said showed Sicknick walking around inside the Capitol after being confronted by the mob, appearing "healthy and vigorous." Carlson claimed that whatever happened to Sicknick "was very obviously not the result of violence he suffered at the entrance to the Capitol."
But the footage doesn’t mean Sicknick wasn’t assaulted, nor does it disprove the medical examiner’s conclusions.
Meanwhile, two rioters, Julian Khater and Geroge Tanios, pleaded guilty to crimes related to the pepper spray attack against Sicknick, though neither were accused of killing him. Khater, who used the spray, is currently serving six years in prison, and Tanios was released after spending five months in jail.
In his March 7 memo, Manger, the Capitol Police chief, called Carlson’s treatment of the Sicknick footage "the most disturbing accusation from last night."
"The Department maintains, as anyone with common sense would, 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," Manger wrote.
The Sicknick family also criticized Fox News in a statement shared with CBS News.
Claim: "I remember asking reporters at the time, you know, why do you keep calling these people ‘armed insurrectionists’ when there's no evidence that anybody used any arms against it? And they said, ‘Well, they had flagpoles.’ So it’s because people were walking around with American flags that made them ‘armed insurrections.’" — Charles Hurt, Washington Times
Court documents, video evidence and news coverage directly contradict this characterization and show that several rioters on the Capitol grounds had firearms and dozens more wielded knives, bats and other real and makeshift weapons including flagpoles, fire extinguishers, skateboards and chemical sprays.
Claim: "Under public pressure, the Jan. 6 committee finally interviewed Ray Epps. Epps told the committee that he never entered the Capitol, and therefore never committed a crime. His text messages showed that at 2:12 p.m., he boasted to his nephew that he had ‘orchestrated the protests at the capitol,’ he admitted he ‘helped get people there.’" – Carlson
We rated a similar claim about Epps admitting to orchestrating the Capitol protests Mostly False.
Epps, an Arizona man who supported Trump and was baselessly accused of instigating the insurrection as an FBI informant, told the Jan. 6 House select committee in an interview that he walked to the Capitol and told others to do the same.
Epps texted his nephew at 2:12 p.m. on Jan. 6 and said, "I was in the front with a few others. I also orchestrated it." But when questioned about it in testimony to the committee, Epps said he wrote it out of pride, and that it was the wrong word choice in retrospect. He did not confess to Congress that he orchestrated the attack.
Epps said when the scene became violent, he told people to remain peaceful.
Carlson aired similarly baseless claims about the attack being a false flag in his November 2021 "Patriot Purge" three-part series about the insurrection — which we also fact-checked.
Archive.org, Tucker Carlson Tonight, March 6, 2023
PolitiFact, Here’s how we know Trump’s repeated claim of a landslide victory is wrong, Jan. 6, 2021
PolitFact, Trump’s own advisers add to evidence that election wasn’t stolen, June 10, 2022
PolitiFact, Trump’s baseless claim about 2020 election fraud and suspending the Constitution, Dec. 6, 2022
PolitiFact, No, the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 wasn’t a ‘completely peaceful protest’, June 4, 2021
Justice.gov, One Year Since the Jan. 6 Attack on the Capitol, Jan. 6, 2022
PolitiFact, No evidence Pelosi ‘rejected’ Trump’s authorization for ‘20,000 National Guard’ before Jan. 6 attack, June 13, 2022
PolitiFact, No proof Trump asked for troops on Jan. 6 or that Democrats denied a request, August 10, 2022
PolitiFact, Evidence rebuts Tucker Carlson’s claim about Capitol Police acting as tour guides to ‘QAnon Shaman’, March 7, 2023
PolitiFact, Update: Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes, April 20, 2021
The Washington Post, Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who engaged rioters, suffered two strokes and died of natural causes, officials say, April 19, 2021
PolitiFact, Jan. 6 defendants were armed with guns, other weapons, documents show, July 13, 2021
PolitiFact, Tucker Carlson is wrong. Firearms, other weapons were found at the Capitol on Jan. 6, June 13, 2022,
PolitiFact, There’s still no evidence that the FBI incited the Jan. 6 riot, despite stories claiming otherwise, Nov. 17, 2021
PolitiFact, How new Jan. 6 revelations on Ray Epps, others undercut Tucker Carlson’s FBI conspiracy theory, Jan. 18, 2022
CNN, What to know about the Tucker Carlson January 6 footage, March 7, 2023
Email interview, U.S. Capitol Police public information office, March 7, 2023