Turning over unseen Jan. 6 video to Fox host Tucker Carlson is asking for trouble

If Carlson promotes a conspiratorial tale, the truth might never catch up in many people’s minds.

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A video surveillance apparatus is seen on the East Front of the Capitol in Washington on Sept. 10, 2021.

A video surveillance apparatus is seen on the East Front of the Capitol in Washington on Sept. 10, 2021.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Republican members of the U.S. House promised to conduct many investigations when they came into power, but few people expected them to job out their first big one to Fox host Tucker Carlson.

It was not a good decision for the nation.

The House has its own investigatory function, yet Speaker Kevin McCarthy last week confirmed he had decided the ideal person to examine more than 40,000 hours of Jan. 6 security video is Carlson, who has a well-established record of getting things wrong. It’s unlikely any good will come of this.

Recently released tweets have showed disingenuous propagandist Carlson, along with other major Fox figures, didn’t believe the absurd allegations the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Yet, through the characters he put on his show, he knowingly promoted the false idea that antifa or a “deep state” nestled in the FBI orchestrated the insurrection. He aired sympathetic interviews with election deniers and some of the rioters. He produced a documentary suggesting Jan. 6 was a “false flag” operation by the federal government that could be used to prosecute conservatives.

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Is that someone who can be trusted to give a fair-minded summary of what’s contained in video not yet viewed by the American people? The people, not McCarthy, own the video. If Carlson promotes a conspiratorial tale, the truth might never catch up in many people’s minds.

All across America, lawyers in routine cases constantly argue against letting the opposition go on a “fishing expedition,” knowing if the opposition gets its hand on a mountain of data that is large enough, attorneys can cherry-pick enough fragments to argue what happened is the exact opposite of what really occurred. More than 40,000 hours of video is certain to contain enough snippets to present whatever disinformation you want.

Moreover, Democrats were appalled because the many hours of video contain essentially a blueprint for how to make another insurrection attempt more successful. The video could show how Jan. 6 rioters entered the building and the routes lawmakers used to flee to safety. U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., former chairman of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, expressed extreme concern about McCarthy’s decision.

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said the video contains images of important security resources at the Capitol. Should those images fall into the wrong hands, it would be perilous, he said.

“I have a real concern from a security standpoint,” Schneider told us. “The reason the [Jan. 6] committee was very precise in what they released and how they looked at it was they wanted to protect the security.”

Right now, we don’t know exactly what information was made available to Fox or how it was done. For example, were people asked to turn over electronic devices before they viewed the video, or were they free to copy selections of video? In contrast, the Jan. 6 committee had a special, password-protected computer set up for staff to review security footage.

In a fund-raising letter, McCarthy defended his action, saying he promised to make the videos public. But he didn’t promise to turn materials over to Carlson. In a letter to congressional leaders on Friday, a group of news media organizations demanded access to the video footage for other news media.

McCarthy’s decision is a bad start in his role as speaker. He clearly did it to kowtow to the farthest right fringe of the GOP congressional caucus. But if the speaker lets that fringe disproportionately influence how the House operates, it will put America in a very precarious situation, economically, politically and militarily, as a handful of representatives might well lobby to shut government down, refuse to lift the debt ceiling, cut off funding for Ukraine and engage in other unwise initiatives, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., told us.

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“It seems the speaker is letting the tip of the dog’s tail wave the body politic,” Quigley said.

We don’t know what Carlson will claim that he and his Fox team found in the huge store of video, though a MAGA-friendly narrative wouldn’t surprise us. Wise Americans will, as Mark Twain once wrote, take Carlson’s possible allegations with a pillar of salt.

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