WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) defended giving Tucker Carlson surveillance footage from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after the conservative Fox News host sparked bipartisan backlash this week for whitewashing the violent riot as a mostly peaceful tourist visit.
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, McCarthy said he didn’t regret exclusively sharing thousands of hours of security footage with Carlson, a prominent Jan. 6 skeptic. However, he claimed he didn’t watch Carlson’s Monday evening program when asked if he had any concerns.
“What I want to do exactly is give transparency to everybody, and everybody can make up their own conclusion” about what transpired on Jan. 6, McCarthy told reporters outside of the Speaker’s office, which was ransacked by hundreds of Donald Trump supporters during the riot.
McCarthy’s feeble response to Carlson’s lies about the Jan. 6 attack on Congress starkly contrasted to that of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who issued a rare rebuke of Fox News earlier on Tuesday. The top Senate Republican said the GOP’s favorite cable network made “a mistake” in showing selectively edited footage from the riot, associating himself with the remarks of Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger, who called Carlson’s program “misleading and offensive.”
When asked about both McConnell and Manger’s comments, McCarthy dodged by attacking CNN, claiming the cable network revealed the secure location of members of Congress on the day of the insurrection.
“I hope McConnell would have been concerned with CNN,” McCarthy said.
“I don’t know what Tucker Carlson said,” he added in response to questions about the Fox News host downplaying the riot.
Federal prosecutors have charged nearly 1,000 people with crimes for their actions that day, according to the Justice Department, including more than 300 for assaulting or interfering with police. In addition, more than 500 rioters have pleaded guilty, 60 of them for attacking officers.
More than 140 police officers were injured after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election. Rioters smeared blood and feces around the building, urinated on floors, and destroyed furniture.
Other Republican senators ripped Carlson and Fox News for attempting to downplay the insurrection. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) called it “bullshit”; Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said the Capitol riot “was clearly more than a peaceful protest of some rowdy boy scouts”; and Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) called the attack “an abomination.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who also slammed Carlson and Fox News, announced Tuesday that he had been invited to appear on Carlson’s program but that he would only do so when he “admits to his viewers live on air that he has been lying to them about the 2020 elections and about what happened on January 6th.”