WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other Senate Republicans on Tuesday lashed out at conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson after he characterized the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as "mostly peaceful chaos."
At a GOP leadership press conference, McConnell said he wanted to associate himself with the letter sent to the U.S. Capitol Police force by Chief Thomas Manger, who denounced Carlson for spreading “offensive and misleading conclusions” about the Jan. 6 insurrection, including a “disturbing accusation” that Officer Brian Sicknick’s death had nothing to do with the riot.
"I want to associate myself entirely with the opinion of the chief and the Capitol Police about what happened on January 6," McConnell said as he held up a copy of the letter. "It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.”
A handful of other Senate Republicans on Tuesday pushed back on Carlson's claim that Jan. 6 was "peaceful chaos," with Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina blasting those remarks as “bullshit.”
Carlson, the popular but controversial figure on Fox, made those comments to his millions of viewers Monday night as he aired select clips of never-before-seen surveillance footage of the Capitol on Jan. 6 and downplayed the violent insurrection that injured 140 police officers during an hourslong assault.
“I think it’s bullshit,” Tillis told reporters in the Capitol.
“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. “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.”
Tillis said Carlson's depiction was as “inexcusable” and compared it to those who downplayed the fires and "devastation" during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020 following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man.
Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota conservative, said he was in the Capitol on Jan. 6 and firmly rejected Carlson's portrayal of that day as “some rowdy peaceful protest of Boy Scouts.”
“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,” Cramer said.
“I think it doesn’t do any good for the narrative,” he added.
On his show Monday night, Carlson said that while there were a few bad apples, most of the Jan. 6 rioters were peaceful and called them “sightseers,” not “insurrectionists.”
“The footage does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress,” he said. “Instead it shows police escorting people through the building."
Asked if House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made a mistake by giving thousands of hours of Jan. 6 footage exclusively to Carlson, McConnell declined to criticize his fellow GOP leader, saying, “My concern is how it was depicted."
“Clearly the chief of the Capitol police correctly described what most of us witnessed on January 6,” added McConnell, who declined several times to criticize McCarthy.
Cramer said the speaker could have given the footage to “all sources equally,” rather than “one who is particularly good at conservative entertainment.”
And that is why Tucker did what he did . Gave the folks a different perspective on this brouhaha . Anything wrong with that ?
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