Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) listens as Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks at a press conference on the Senate’s upcoming procedural vote to codify Roe v. Wade at the U.S. Capitol Building on May 05, 2022 in Washington, DC.
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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday strongly condemned Fox News host Tucker Carlson for airing footage Monday of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection in a way that portrayed it as a peaceful visit to the U.S. Capitol.
In blistering terms, Schumer, D-N.Y., also criticized House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for giving Carlson and Fox News exclusive access to 44,000 hours of Capitol security footage. Carlson then used selective clips to build that false narrative for his broadcast Monday evening, Schumer said.
“I and so many others who were here” on Jan. 6, 2021, “are just furious with Tucker Carson and Kevin McCarthy today,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
“Last night millions of Americans tuned into one of the most shameful hours we have ever seen on cable television,” Schumer said.
“With disregard of the risks and knowing full well he was lying, lying to his audience, Fox News host Tucker Carlson ran a lengthy segment last night, arguing the January 6 Capitol attack was not a violent insurrection,” Schumer said.
And he said Carlson, after “diving deep into the waters of conspiracy and cherry picking” security footage “told the bold-faced lie that the Capitol attack which we all saw with our own eyes, was somehow not an attack at all” by hundreds of supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
Tucker Carlson speaks during 2022 FOX Nation Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on November 17, 2022 in Hollywood, Florida.
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Carlson “tried to argue it was nothing more than a peaceful sightseeing tour,” Schumer said. “Can you imagine?”
“To say January 6 was not violent is a lie, a lie pure and simple,” he added. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a primetime cable news anchor manipulate his viewers the way Mr. Carlson did last night. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an anchor treat the American people and American democracy with such disdain.”
The Senate leader also addressed Carlson’s superiors directly from the floor, among them Fox News boss Rupert Murdoch, urging them to order Carlson not to run a second segment based on the security footage that Fox plans to run Tuesday night.
Carlson during his broadcast Monday said, “The footage does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress.”
“Instead it shows police escorting people through the building, including the now-infamous ‘QAnon Shaman,” Carlson said.
He did not show graphic footage captured by security cameras throughout the building of rioters attacking police guarding the Capitol, invading the Senate chamber and congressional offices, including the office of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and many other scenes of mayhem.
The Department of Justice, in a statement on Monday, noted that at least 1,000 people have been charged with crimes related to the attack, during which 140 police officers were assaulted.
Schumer said that McCarthy is “every bit as” culpable as Carlson for the broadcast.
“Speaker McCarthy’s decision to share security footage with Fox looked like a mistake from the very beginning, but after last night, it looks like a disaster,” Schumer said. “Speaker McCarthy has played a treacherous, a treacherous game by catering to the hard right.”
Carlson in January had said that McCarthy, who at the time was battling to win support for his election as speaker from far-right Republicans, could improve his chances by releasing “all of” the Jan. 6 security footage, not just the material previously disclosed by a select House committee.
When McCarthy followed through on that after becoming speaker, he allowed Fox News, and only Fox News, access to the footage.
He later defended that decision by saying he was giving Fox News an “exclusive,” comparing it to exclusives obtained by other networks.
“So we have exclusive, then I’ll give it out to the entire country,” McCarthy said in late February.
Schumer said that McCarthy, in giving Fox News the footage, has “enabled the big lie and has further eroded away and our precious democracy.
“When people don’t believe elections around the level that’s the beginning of the end of this bold experiment in democracy that has gone on for more than 200 years,” Schumer said.
Schumer did not add that the attack on the Capitol came after weeks of false claims by then-President Donald Trump that he, and not President Joe Biden, had actually won the 2020 election.
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Trump on Jan. 6 had urged a crowd of supporters outside the White House to march to the Capitol and fight against a joint session of Congress that was meeting that day to confirm Biden’s election.
Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, after Schumer’s remarks told reporters that Carlson’s claims about the attack are “bull—-“
“I was here,” Tillis said, according to NBC News. “I was down there and I saw maybe a few tourists, a few people who got caught up in things.”
“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,” he said.