Capitol riot: Fox News seeks to portray January 6th as largely peaceful with new footage

Security tapes are given exclusively to Fox News host Tucker Carlson by new House speaker Kevin McCarthy

Fox News in the United States has begun releasing extracts of previously unseen footage of the January 6th riot on the US Capitol and has sought to portray the events of the day as a largely peaceful gathering.

The Tucker Carlson programme on Monday contended the video recordings showed there was no insurrection by supporters of former president Donald Trump.

About 40,000 hours of security camera tapes recorded on January 6th, 2021, were given by new Republican speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy exclusively to Mr Carlson last month.

Mr Carlson’s programme on Fox News on Monday night broadcast the first instalments of the video recordings.


He argued the security tapes showed that the January 6th committee that investigated the attack on the Capitol last year – and which was dominated by Democrats – had lied about what had happened on the day.

Mr Carlson said the footage showed there was no insurrection. He said a small percentage of those who entered the Capitol Building were “hooligans” who carried out vandalism but the overwhelming majority were not and were “sightseers”.

He said the surveillance tapes showed that there was mainly silent chaos in the Capitol on January 6th with large numbers of people milling around.

“The footage does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress. Instead it shows police escorting people through the building”, Mr Carlson said.

TV news reports after the attack as well as the January 6th committee last year showed video of rioters violently assaulting police at the Capitol – which resulted in about 140 officers being injured.

Nearly 1,000 people have subsequently been charged in connection with January 6th.

Overall, five people died in the attack on the US Capitol and its aftermath that followed a rally near the White House where Mr Trump urged supporters to “fight like hell”. The riot happened as members of Congress were convening to officially certify the results of the 2020 presidential election that was won by Joe Biden.

Mr Carlson’s programme largely featured the cases of Jacob Chansely – who was dubbed the Q-anon shaman and who was jailed after the attack on the Capitol – as well as Brian Sicknik, a police officer who died the day after he confronted rioters on January 6th.

The programme showed Chansley, who essentially became the face of January 6th after being seen widely on television in the Capitol wearing a fur hat with horns and carrying a spear, wandering the corridors with police close by.

“The tapes show the Capitol police never stopped Jacob Chansley. They helped him. They acted as his tour guides”, Mr Carlson said.

He said at one point there were nine police officers in the vicinity of Chansley but none tried to stop him. “Not one of them even tried to slow him down,” Mr Carlson said.

Mr Chansley was subsequently jailed for four years for his actions at the Capitol on January 6th.

Mr Carlson also showed footage of Capitol police officer Mr Sicknick who died the day after the riots at the Capitol.

He said the narrative pushed by Democrats was that Mr Sicknick had been “murdered by the mob” at the Capitol but the footage showed him walking normally through the Capitol building afterwards.

Mr Carlson said that the official January 6th committee investigators had seen that particular tape but had refused to show it to the public.

The US Capitol police initially said after the riots on January 6th that Mr Sicknick had “passed away due to injuries sustained while on-duty”.

However, last April the Washington DC chief medical examiner found Mr Sicknick had suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after he confronted rioters at the Capitol.

The US Capitol Police said subsequently that it accepted this finding but that it did “not change the fact Officer Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol”.

Mr Carlson’s programme also said the new footage showed that the video released by the January 6th committee of Republican senator Josh Hawley running away from rioters – which subsequently went viral on social media – appeared to have been taken out of context.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent