Twitter CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday joined the right-wing chorus denying that a violent riot took place at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after Fox News aired cherry-picked footage of the incident provided by Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Replying to the communications director of a Freedom Caucus-aligned organization who alleged that members of the House committee investigating the riot had lied, Elon took to his social media platform to write: “Besides misleading the public, they withheld evidence for partisan political reasons that sent people to prison for far more serious crimes than they committed. That is deeply wrong, legally and morally.”
“This is crazy. The public was misled,” Musk said in a separate tweet about the footage, which aired Monday on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show.
After right-wing conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich wrote that “the Big Lie of the January 6th” had been “exposed,” Musk replied, “Shocking indeed.”
And in response to a Twitter user who accused the BBC of not covering “the Jan 6 new evidence,” Musk tweeted at one of the broadcaster’s accounts, writing: “What say you, @BBCWorld? Your credibility is at stake.”
Other commentary came over the course of several hours early Tuesday, shortly after Musk, the world’s richest person, suggested that he uses Twitter while on the toilet for long periods.
Carlson was able to air his insurrection denial episode after McCarthy controversially gave him access to more than 40,000 hours of security camera footage from the Capitol. The House speaker and other conservatives have tried to downplay the historical and political significance of Jan. 6 in the two years since the attack.
Carlson used select frames to claim that the mob, whose members assaulted law enforcement officers and went looking to confront their political rivals, was in fact “orderly and meek.”
“These were not insurrectionists. They were sightseers,” Carlson said.
It has always been public knowledge that not all of the people who entered the Capitol did so violently. Some simply followed after others had smashed open windows and forced open doors. The crowd’s violent acts — such as trapping a police officer against a door and chanting “Heave, ho!” as the officer cried out in pain — are well documented.
The U.S. Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police were not adequately prepared to deal with the waves of people marching on the Hill in support of now-former President Donald Trump, and faced a reckoning from lawmakers in the wake of the attack.
But the agencies’ leaders have defended the actions of individual officers, saying that they did the best they could in an impossible situation. One Black officer put on a red “Make America Great Again” hat amid the chaos because, as he later explained, he felt he could get people in the crowd to help him rescue other officers by portraying himself as a fellow Trump supporter. Several law enforcement officers testified under oath about how they had been brutalized by the crowd.
Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger excoriated Carlson’s segment in an internal memo obtained by CNN on Tuesday, saying that the host’s presentation was “offensive” and “misleading” and that it didn’t “provide accurate context.”
“The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video. The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments,” Manger reportedly wrote.
According to the Justice Department, around 1,000 people have been arrested in connection with the incident in nearly all 50 states. Well over 300 of those have been slapped with charges on suspicion of assaulting or impeding Capitol officers or employees.