The Real Problem With Tucker Carlson's January 6 Footage

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On Tuesday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell joined congressional colleagues like Chuck Schumer in condemning Fox News’ Tucker Carlson for releasing and framing footage from the January 6, 2021 events at the Capitol. McConnell said his take on the issue is aligned with that of the U.S. Capitol Police Chief. He did not appreciate Carlson playing other video that showed peaceful protesters being escorted into the Capitol by police, given tours, and generally left alone to wander peacefully as they snapped photos and even prayed in the chambers.


“It was a mistake in my view for Fox News to depict this in a way that is completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at Capitol thinks.”

My colleague Teri Christoph noted an issue with his statement that made me holler.

Mitch, please. What if the truth is hiding somewhere in that “variance?” McConnell’s lack of curiosity about the truth could be the sign of an old man who’s spent far too much time in DC

It is the use of the word ‘depict’ that ruffles my feathers. I find it to be a very telling word. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word ‘depict’ means “to represent by, or as if by a picture” or to “describe.”

It is word for telling a story, and all stories have a storyteller.

McConnell may have thought he was simply saying he thinks the Capitol protests were a Very Bad Thing™, but I heard what he (and so many others like him) really thinks. He means he didn’t like THE STORY Tucker Carlson was telling with the new footage. THE STORY already had its tellers. THE STORY had already been framed. THE STORY had already been written. How dare Carlson come in with rewrites? Who approved him to retell THE STORY?


And isn’t that the big takeaway here? McConnell basically admitted that the J6 footage we’ve been seeing for two years is really a story, and not an objective set of facts. If it had been just the facts, there wouldn’t be any controversy about the new footage being released. It never would have been secret in the first place. Like old Twitter threatening to benevolently “add context” to Trump’s tweets for the benefit of their incurious audience, McConnell and company have decided for the rest of us how January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol should be viewed and observed.

It was such a benign but chilling word in this context…depict.

The truth shall set you free – if that is more than a cliche, we’ll know what “story” to believe by how free it makes us. I’m not saying that there weren’t some bad actors at the Capitol that day. I’m not saying that the Tucker Carlson “narrative” is the narrative of that day. What I am saying is that one depiction has ended with a lot of innocent people in jail (unfree, as it were), and has depended on keeping video evidence out of the hands of the general public. The other “narrative” opens up the evidence and the conversation. The other “narrative” would probably had resulted in way fewer jail sentences had it been available to the public.

We should always be leery of men who tell us knowing things is bad for us.

I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again, because it sits in my spirit and tweaks my conscience at one point or another nearly every work day.


I once, many years ago (too long ago to have made the proper mental notes about title or names) saw a fantastic documentary on The History Channel on the making of the Berlin Wall. It may surprise those of you who even remember what that looked like that it had an architect. Someone actually designed that monstrosity. Someone recorded an interview with that man just before he died…perhaps the early 90s. He was old and cantankerous. He clearly was not pleased with the fall of communism.

The interviewer must have asked him why East Germany felt it was necessary to put a wall between their nation and West Germany (for you kids – Germany was one Germany, and then it was two, before it was one again). I will never forget his words. I’m not even sure I was a conservative at the time I heard them, it was so long ago. I just remember that they made me feel cold. He said – and I’m paraphrasing to the best of my failing memory, here – “We had to build the wall, so the people could see that socialism works. The people kept leaving, running away, but socialism can’t work without the people, so we had to find a way to keep them in. And then if they would just give it a chance, they could see how great socialism can be.”

This is the attitude of the gatekeepers. They are the ones who believe they have to build the walls around you so that you’ll be forced to sit still long enough to see their plan works, their ideas are the best, and their intentions are right. Once you see that, the walls will melt away. Of course, they’ll melt away not because they’ve been removed, but because you’ve been retrained to see them as blankets instead. They don’t trap you, they warm you.


McConnell’s comments are the comments of a gatekeeper. Perhaps his intentions aren’t nearly as nefarious as that communist architect, but the idea behind them is just as dangerous. He could have supported the values of free speech and transparency while still saying he disagreed with the “new story.”

Instead, he complained about the storyteller, and the fact that anyone else gets to tell a piece of the story at all.

And that is scary as hell.


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