As the top three Republican leaders — former President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — unite in opposition to a bipartisan commission to study the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump’s supporters, Fox News is providing support to Republican leaders with its hosts’ own opposition to the commission idea.
In the process, the network is repeating its campaign of spin about the attack spreading conspiracy theories about the election that in turn led to the insurrection.
The clear lesson is that a commission is all the more necessary, in order to break through the veil of lies and establish an official record of what happened.
Tucker Carlson lies that there was no violent attack on the Capitol
He also boldly asserted: “It was not an insurrection. It wasn't an armed invasion by a brigade of dangerous white supremacists. It wasn't. Those are lies.” From there, he painted an alternate reality denying that militant white supremacists had organized and attacked the Capitol.
And on Tuesday night’s edition of his show, Carlson praised Republican leaders for opposing a commission, while he continued to insist that there’d been no insurrection, using a series of false talking points and selectively edited video. “Remember that?” he said. “It’s when a bunch of middle-aged people deep in credit card debt, white supremacists, teamed up with a guy dressed like Chewbacca to overthrow our democracy.”
Carlson then showed a selectively picked video clip of a person in the mob shouting to other participants to “gather peacefully to discuss what needs to be done to save our country,” while a Capitol Police officer asked for the crowd to “show us no attacking, no assault. Remain calm.”
“That's one view of the so-called insurrection,” Carlson declared — though he did not show other video clips or photos, such as insurrectionists crushing a police officer inside a doorway, beating another police officer with an American flag pole, or entering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office while armed with a stun gun.
Carlson further resurrected a right-wing talking point that first emerged in the immediate wake of the insurrection, falsely comparing the attack on Congress, which was an attempt to stop the transfer of power as Electoral College votes were being formally counted, to the civil unrest in 2020 surrounding Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist protests.
Carlson also claimed that any Republican member such as Rep. John Katko (R-NY) who is “pushing for this 9/11-style commission” would be “voting to give Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden more power — power they do not deserve, power they did not win in November.”
Sean Hannity says he opposes a “smear campaign” — then hosts a senator who spread fake theories about the insurrection
Back on January 6, Hannity simultaneously claimed that anti-fascists had put on “MAGA gear” so they would look like Trump supporters storming the Capitol. He also repeated a number of debunked conspiracy theories about “serious election irregularities” that led such a large crowd of Trump supporters to gather in Washington, D.C., that day.
Hannity dishonestly claimed Tuesday night that he had always favored a 9/11 commission-style inquiry into the January 6 event but now believed that “any proceeding would be used as yet another smear campaign against Donald Trump, all Republicans, and Trump supporters everywhere. It's not worth the time of day.”
Hannity then brought on Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who both proceeded to repeat a false claim that Pelosi was ultimately responsible for the Capitol’s security, a talking point that was previously broadcast on Fox News and other right-wing media outlets. (The Capitol Police budget is approved by both chambers of Congress — including both Pelosi and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — but the leadership of either chamber is not involved in day-to-day operations.)
After claiming that Pelosi would control the staffing of the commission, regardless of its bipartisan membership, Johnson added: “So, no, this is a complete farce. I hope no Republicans in the House vote for this. I hope nobody in the Senate embraces it either.”
Johnson has previously claimed during Senate hearings that fake Trump supporters had infiltrated the crowd and provoked the violence on January 6. But he has also boasted on conservative talk radio that he knew immediately on January that the intruders in the Capitol “were people that love this country, … and so I wasn’t concerned,” claiming that if they had been “Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”
Laura Ingraham: Stop the commission — and get back to suppressing votes
Back on January 6, Laura Ingraham alleged that the rioters could not have really been Trump supporters because she had “never seen” Trump rally attendees wearing helmets and knee pads. In later months, she lied about the FBI director’s testimony to Congress and distorted what he’d actually said about there being a planned attack on Congress by right-wing militants as well as the threat of far-right domestic terrorism.
But one of Ingraham’s main concerns on January 6 was that the insurrection would discredit the right-wing efforts for voter suppression. During her show that night, she dug in on conspiracy theories about the election and said there were “legitimate concerns about how these elections were conducted” and that laws should be enacted to restrict mail-in voting, claiming, “But political passions boiled over today, and it will only serve to make the lives of MAGA supporters more difficult and even imperil this movement they fought so hard for.”
Ingraham also hosted Trump for an interview in late March, during which she complained that the Department of Homeland Security was “going after people who may be your supporters” with its pursuit of right-wing domestic terror threats. Trump also claimed that the government was “persecuting” the participants from January, describing them in glowing terms: “They wave American flags, in many cases, they are waving the American flag, and they love our country.” There was no mention of rioters who had beaten a police officer with one of those American flags.
Ingraham’s arguments against a commission revisited most of these themes on Tuesday night. “Now, we don't need no stinking commission to tell us what happened on January 6. At least no one with a brain does. We already know what happened,” Ingraham said. “First, there was an election that some believed was tainted by fraud. Then on January 6, the same day as Trump's speech, a few hundred people ended up breaching the Capitol. Police were overwhelmed. This obviously was really dumb and shouldn't have happened.”
Ingraham then asserted that Democrats are really “the most anti-democratic forces out there … who support voting rights for illegals, who oppose voter ID at the polls, who use ballot harvesting to vacuum up votes at old folks' homes and Indian reservations.”
“On the other hand,” Ingraham said, “Republicans want elections to be fair, legitimate and thorough. That means there needs to be a good reason for voting by mail or registering to vote on Election Day.”
And finally, Ingraham later said: “The last thing we need now is a second taxpayer-funded investigation to prop up a hoax.”
Notably, Ingraham also claimed in her monologue: “Mark these words, this commission will be used as a forum to tar and punish Trump supporters. That is its only purpose, with the usual strategic leaks and requests for the ever-expanded focus of the investigation. If they play their cards right, the Democrats will have this commission operable through 2022 and maybe up until 2024. Perfect timing.”
Ironically, immediately after the monologue, Ingraham proceeded to interview House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — who had previously boasted in 2015 that the special committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi had been established for the political purpose of dragging down Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.