Mar 7, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans condemn Tucker Carlson portrayal of Jan. 6. attack

Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on March 6 in Washington, DC. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans pushed back on Fox News host Tucker Carlson's characterization of the deadly Capitol riot as "mostly peaceful chaos."

Driving the news: In an internal letter Monday night, Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger blasted Carlson for spreading "offensive and misleading conclusions" about the Capitol riot, per NBC News, which obtained the memo.

  • In brief, but direct remarks, McConnell told reporters Tuesday that as far as the Fox News segment went, he wanted to "associate myself entirely with the opinion of the chief of the Capitol Police about what happened on January 6."

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) gave Carlson exclusive access to 41,000 hours of Capitol footage from the Jan. 6 riot, which he began airing this week.

  • "The footage does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress," Carlson said on Monday's program. "Instead, it shows police escorting people through the building ..."
  • Fox News did not respond to a request for comment.

In his letter, Manger slammed Carlson and said he "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 wrote that "the most disturbing accusation" had to do with the death of Officer Brian Sicknick. Carlson claimed that Sicknick's death "had nothing to do with his heroic actions on January 6.”
  • A medical examiner ruled that Sicknick died of natural causes but the events of Jan. 6 "played a role in his condition."
  • "The Department maintains, as anyone with common sense would, that had Officer Sicknick not fought valiantly for hours on the day he was violently assaulted, Officer Sicknick would not have died the next day."

Over 100 officers were injured in the riot and hundreds have left the force.

  • U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards described the attack as "carnage" and "chaos" during her testimony last year at a hearing of the Jan. 6. committee.

Other Senate Republicans pushed back on Carlson for his characterization of the riot.

  • "I think it’s bulls**t," Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said to reporters at the Capitol, calling Carlson's depiction "inexcusable."
  • Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said: "I think that breaking through glass windows and doors to get into the United States Capitol against the borders of police is a crime," per NBC News.
  • "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," he added.
  • “I was here. It was not peaceful. It was an abomination,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), per Politico. “You’re entitled to believe what you want in America, but you can’t resort to violence to try to convince others of your point of view.”

Fox News, in a statement Tuesday, accused Dominion Voting Systems, the plaintiff in the case, of a "PR campaign to smear FOX News and trample on free speech and freedom of the press. We already know they will say and do anything to try to win this case, but to twist and even misattribute quotes to the highest levels of our company is truly beyond the pale."

Go deeper: McCarthy plays with fire

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Fox News.

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