President Joe Biden condemned House Republicans on Wednesday for allowing Fox News host Tucker Carlson to access and air previously unseen security footage of January 6 that showed police officers appearing to stand by passively as people poured into the U.S. Capitol.
The rebuke from the president came in response to an internal memo from U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger which criticized “Tucker Carlson Tonight” for broadcasting some of the video and commentary he claimed was offensive and misleading.
“More than 140 officers were injured on Jan 6,” Biden said in a tweet. “I’ve said before: How dare anyone diminish or deny the hell they went through? I stand with the [Capitol Police]. I hope House Republicans feel ashamed for what was done to undermine our law enforcement.”
More than 140 officers were injured on Jan 6.
I’ve said before: How dare anyone diminish or deny the hell they went through?
I stand with the @CapitolPolice.
I hope House Republicans feel ashamed for what was done to undermine our law enforcement. https://t.co/pES1zApH9Y
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 8, 2023
Carlson and his team received exclusive access to more than 40,000 hours of security camera footage as part of a deal made with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who said he opted for the disclosure for the sake of transparency and to counter the “politicization” he believes had been fostered by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the January 6 Committee.
Some Republicans have been supportive of the speaker. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) thanked McCarthy for the disclosure as it may help some of the January 6 defendants in their cases.
Still, Democrats and other Republicans have expressed their dismay with the agreement and Fox News’ portrayal of the events of January 6, 2021, the day a crowd of people entered the U.S. Capitol, disrupting lawmakers who were meeting to certify Biden’s 2020 election victory.
“It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters on Tuesday.
Officials have said about 140 police officers were assaulted in clashes with people at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. In addition, four police officers who defended the Capitol on that day later committed suicide. However, only people who were part of the crowd died on the day of the breach, including Ashli Babbitt after being fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer.
During his show on Monday, Carlson aired some familiar images of the people getting violent with police and breaking windows. But, he said only a “small percentage” of the large crowd were “hooligans” and insisted the footage his team has seen “demolishes” the claim that there was an attempted insurrection.
Virtually no one in Washington, Republican or Democrat, wanted to see this tape released tonight. pic.twitter.com/YfpvaIZTbn
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) March 7, 2023
The host shared footage that he said makes clear the vast majority of the people were “peaceful,” “orderly,” and “meek.” These “sightseers,” as Carlson described them, appeared to revere the U.S. Capitol as they filed inside in an orderly fashion and were present out of concern that there was fraud in the 2020 election. He accused Democrats and journalists of suppressing the images up until now as “a pretext for a federal crackdown on opponents of the uni party in Washington.”
McCarthy assured reporters that Capitol Police were part of the process of sharing clips with Carlson’s team and security would be “taken care of.” Still, Capitol Police told The Hill on Monday that the agency requested “that any clips be shown to us first for a security review” but that so far, it had “only been given the ability to preview a single clip out of the multiple clips that aired.”
In his memo sent to staff on Tuesday, Manger accused Carlson’s program of cherry-picking calmer moments from January 6 and claimed the commentary “fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments.” Manger also said his department “stands by the officers in the video” that was shown, asserting that officers were outnumbered on January 6 and did their best to de-escalate the situation.