The release of surveillance footage of the Capitol attack and statements by a Fox News talk show host have caused outrage in the United States. The background is a much-criticized decision by Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
He had exclusively given tens of thousands of hours of video footage of the storming of the Capitol to moderator Tucker Carlson, who was well-disposed towards his party. The right-wing talk show host showed some selected images on Monday and Tuesday evening (local time) and commented on them in the spirit of ex-President Donald Trump, who repeatedly falsely claimed that only peaceful demonstrators were out and about at the time.
"Neither a riot nor a riot"
Carlson now claimed that the presidential election in 2020 was "a serious betrayal of American democracy" and that the Democrats only wanted to distract from this with their investigative committee to storm the Capitol. "The footage shows neither a riot nor a riot in progress," Carlson said. Federal agents probably incited the violence, he claimed, without being able to prove it.
The moderator is known for spreading conspiracy theories and obvious false reports and for inciting against minorities. He has a daily evening show on Fox News that averages over three million viewers.
Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger called Carlson's edit of the video footage misleading. "The show appropriately chose the quieter moments from our 41,000 hours of video footage," he said in an internal memo seen by US media. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Carlson's show "one of the most shameful hours we've ever watched television."
Mitt Romney calls Carlson's show 'absurd'
But Republicans were also critical. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called it a "mistake" for Fox News to portray the storming of the US Capitol in this way. "In my opinion, the Chief of the Capitol Police accurately describes what most of us witnessed first hand on January 6th." Republican Senator Mitt Romney called Carlson's show "absurd" and "nonsense." Other Republicans in the House of Representatives, however, praised the show.
McCarthy had sabotaged his party's cooperation with the House inquiry into the Capitol attack and again defended the release of the video footage to Carlson on Tuesday. The committee had processed the attack and presented its final report shortly before Christmas, in which Trump was given significant responsibility for the storming of the Capitol.
The panel also recommended criminal prosecution of the former president on several counts. It is unclear whether the Justice Department will actually take criminal action against Trump because the recommendation is not legally binding.
The lie of the alleged electoral fraud
Trump supporters violently stormed the seat of parliament in Washington on January 6, 2021. Congress met there to formally confirm Democrat Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election. Trump had incited his supporters in a speech with the often refuted claim that he had been deprived of a victory by massive election fraud. Five people died as a result of the riots.
Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch recently admitted that some of his network's moderators deliberately spread lies about the 2020 presidential election. That's according to court documents showing affidavits by the 91-year-old media mogul in early February.
The documents also show that Carlson and other Fox hosts feared losing viewers' favor if they didn't support Trump's narrative of voter fraud. The statement is part of a defamation lawsuit brought against Fox News by voting machine manufacturer Dominion.