Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted the conservative right for its continued effort to whitewash the deadly attack on the US Capitol on Tuesday during a speech from the floor of the upper chamber.
Mr Schumer became the latest voice to criticise House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision to supply Fox News disinformation artist Tucker Carlson with hours of footage from the riot at the Capitol so Carlson’s producers could splice together videos where violence is not explicitly shown onscreen in order to falsely portray the attack as a peaceful protest. The effort to minimise Jan 6 has been as almost as long-running of a campaign for Carlson as has his effort to sow distrust in the results of the 2020 election, which he continues to do as well.
Calling Monday night’s episode “one of the most shameful hours of television” in recent memory, the Senate leader attacked Mr Carlson for his dishonest assertion that the attack on the Capitol, which left a number of police officers seriously injured and led to deaths of others as hundreds breached the US Capitol illegally and fought hand-to-hand combat with police, was peaceful.
“To say January 6th was not violent is a lie, a lie pure and simple,” Mr Schumer said.
Democrats are not the only ones calling Carlson a liar.
“I think it’s bulls***,” Senator Thom Tillis told reporters on Tuesday, referring to Carlson’s portrayal of the events.
“I was here. I was down there and I saw maybe a few tourists, a few people who got caught up in things,” he added, according to NBC News. “But when you see police barricades breached, when you see police officers assaulted, all of that ... if you were just a tourist you should’ve probably lined up at the visitors’ center and came in on an orderly basis.”
Sen Kevin Cramer added: “I think that breaking through glass windows and doors to get into the United States Capitol against the borders of police is a crime. I think particularly when you come into the chambers, when you start opening the members' desks, when you stand up in their balcony — to somehow put that in the same category as you know, permitted peaceful protest is just a lie.”
The Fox News host is one of the longest-running advocates of the theory that January 6 was peaceful. It’s a theory that is contradicted countless times over by reality — from the testimony of Capitol Police officers, many of whom were viciously assaulted and recounted racist slurs being hurled at them, to the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, whom the far right believes was shot to death while “peacefully” attempting to breach an armed police barricade within a restricted building.
His network is in far more potential trouble over the issue of 2020 election-related lies. The Fox News channel is currently being sued for $1.6bn in a lawsuit launched by a voting machine company maligned with baseless lies by Donald Trump and his allies, including those on Fox, after the 2020 election, and has seen its already-tenuous reputation tarnished further by the revelation that Carlson and others have long referred to Donald Trump’s allies like Sidney Powell as liars in their own private communications.
Nevertheless, Mr Carlson continues to play the tune for the dwindling Trump base as the former president seeks to cling to his hold on the Republican Party amid a string of criminal investigations and a lackluster performance by Trump-adjacent candidates in 2022.
The Fox News channel continues to boast of its ratings dominance over rivals CNN and MSNBC, even as veteran journalists like Chris Wallace flee the network in search of greener pastures.
Mr McCarthy, meanwhile, continues to face demands from real journalists for the release of footage from around the Capitol on January 6, previously obtained by the January 6 select committee. The speaker maintains that he plans to release all the nonsensitive footage from that day publicly.
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