A nonprofit government watchdog sent a complaint to the House of Representatives on Tuesday regarding Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy’s (R) decision to share tens of thousands of hours of Capitol attack footage with Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Critics of McCarthy’s decision to share the footage warned that Carlson would likely cherry-pick the videos to wrongly portray the January 6, 2021, attack as a peaceful protest.
On Monday, Carlson did just that, telling viewers of his show that the Trump loyalists who breached the Capitol were more like “sightseers” than “insurrectionists.”
“The footage does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress,” Carlson said. Notably, around 140 police officers were attacked by the mob and sustained injuries. Of the nearly 1,000 people who took part in the illegal breach of the building, 326 have been charged with assault, including 106 who face assault charges that involve use of a deadly or dangerous weapon.
Nonprofit government watchdog Public Citizen filed a complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics on Tuesday.
“We request an investigation into the recent exclusive release by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to a single news outlet of confidential records obtained by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol,” the complaint from the organization said.
The letter was signed by Craig Holman and Lisa Gilbert, who serve as government affairs lobbyist and vice president of Public Citizen, respectively. It was also signed by two former White House ethics advisers — Norman Eisen, who worked in the Obama administration, and Richard Painter, who served under former President George W. Bush.
It was wrong for Speaker McCarthy to provide this footage to one organization that happens to be politically aligned with him and not release the videos to the media generally at the same time. This is not like granting an exclusive interview; this is providing a valuable government resource exclusively to one outlet and discriminating against others, which flies in the face of First Amendment values.
Public Citizen noted on its website that the release of the footage to Carlson was “the result of a political agreement between Rep. McCarthy, Tucker Carlson and others in McCarthy’s bid to become Speaker.”
Critics lambasted McCarthy’s decision to share the footage with Carlson, noting that the Fox News commentator has frequently downplayed the January 6 attack and pushed lies about it being a “false flag” event crafted by allies of President Joe Biden to make former President Donald Trump look bad. Former members of the January 6 committee also spoke out against the release of the footage, noting that it compromised the security of the Capitol building and could potentially be used to plan an attack in the future.
“It’s hard to overstate the potential security risks if this material were to be used irresponsibly,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), former chair of the January 6 committee, said in mid-February.
Public Citizen echoed those concerns in a tweet announcing its decision to file a complaint to the House ethics office.
“Sharing Jan 6 footage exclusively to Tucker Carlson and his MAGA cronies just put everyone’s safety at risk in the Capitol,” the organization wrote.
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