Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that his show will air Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol footage this week and claimed it will show that federal and congressional officials “are lying” to Americans.
“The defenders of democracy are defending democracy again,” the Fox News host said last week. “They’re telling you it’s really, really dangerous. And anyone would get to see the thousands of hours of surveillance footage from January 6, which has been hidden from the public for two years as a tiny group of people gets to make up stories about what happened that day and change the country on the basis of those stories.”
“How does that work exactly?” he asked. “Well, it’s not democracy, of course. It’s building a bulwark against your lies being revealed. And they are lying. And we know that because we’ve been looking at the tape.”
In a March 3 follow-up post on Twitter, Carlson wrote that “the results of our investigation will air Monday and Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel,” referring to his timeslot. Carlson did not provide further details about what has been “hidden from the public.”
It was confirmed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last month that he provided the popular Fox host with more than 41,000 hours of Jan. 6 Capitol security footage, granting Carlson exclusive access. McCarthy said that after Carlson is finished, the footage would be released to the public at a later, undisclosed time.
The move to only gives Fox News the surveillance footage, drawing criticism from Democratic lawmakers as well as some conservative figures. A handful of corporate media media outlets sent letters to McCarthy and demanded access to the footage, claiming there are concerns Carlson will promote a biased narrative.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on Sunday told CNN’s “State of the Union” that there is no indication that U.S. Capitol Police officials “have vetted that footage” sent to Carlson. “It is my hope and expectation that that will absolutely occur,” he said in an attempt to cast McCarthy’s decision as one that imperils Capitol security procedures.
Last month, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell announced on Steve Bannon’s podcast he would file a lawsuit against McCarthy to acquire the footage, claiming that only providing the tapes to Fox News injures his new network, LindellTV. He contended that McCarthy is violating his constitutional rights.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in February criticized McCarthy for what he said was “needlessly exposing the Capitol complex to one of the worst security risks since 9/11” in giving the footage to Carlson. Schumer did not elaborate.
Responding to the criticism, McCarthy told the New York Times that he released the footage as a promise to Republicans. “I was asked in the press about these tapes, and I said they do belong to the American public. I think sunshine lets everybody make their own judgment,” the California Republican said.
In other public comments, the House speaker has said the American public has the right see what really happened on Jan. 6. He also said Democrats engaged in a partisan and improper witch hunt targeting Trump and former administration officials during the last Congress.
In the meantime, some House Republicans have signaled that Carlson and his team don’t have unfettered access to the footage. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), the head of the House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight, told news outlets last week that his committee is working with the Capitol Police and House sergeant-at-arms to make sure no footage released to the public poses a national security risk.
“It’s basically controlled access to be able to view tapes. Can’t record, can’t take anything with you,” Loudermilk told The Hill. “Then they will request any particular clips that—that they may need, and then we’ll make sure that there’s nothing sensitive, nothing classified—you know, escape routes.”
Speaking also to CBS News, Loudermilk said Fox News’ staff “may request any particular clips they may need, then we’ll make sure there’s nothing sensitive, nothing classified, including escape routes … we don’t want al-Qaeda to know certain things.”
In the future, news outlets and the public would gain access to the tapes, Loudermilk also said. “Hopefully sooner rather than later, but I think we’re talking about weeks to months,” he told CBS.