WASHINGTON, D.C. (WGHP) – The inaccurate and misleading portrayal of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that was broadcast by cable TV star Tucker Carlson on Monday night has drawn strong rebuke from some of those inside the Capitol that day – including the senior senator from North Carolina.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) described the efforts by Fox News’ Carlson to downplay the violent attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election as “bull—-.”
Carlson in his program used a few minutes from the roughly 44,000 hours of security footage shot at the Capitol that day – and given to him exclusively by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) – to create a false narrative about the violence that occurred.
Carlson said the thousands who attacked the Capitol that day in support of the lies about election fraud from former President Donald Trump were “sightseers,” not “insurrectionists.”
Tillis, following strong if not equally inflammatory comments about Carlson’s performance by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the chief of the Capitol Police and others, didn’t mince words when meeting with reporters in the halls of the Capitol.
“I was here,” Tillis told NBC News. I was down there, and I saw maybe a few tourists, people who got caught up in things.
“But when you see police barricades breached, when you see police officers assaulted, all of that … if you were just a tourist you should’ve probably lined up at the visitors’ center and came in on an orderly basis.”
On Jan. 6, 2021, there were hundreds of injuries to law enforcement officers, death threats on the life of Vice President Mike Pence and others and, ultimately, seven lives were lost during or after the insurrection.
Most recent court records suggest that more than 1,000 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states. More than 518 have pleaded guilty, and approximately 420 have been sentenced, including about 220 to jail time.
There have been 27 arrests involving people from North Carolina, six from the Piedmont Triad. Some are appearing as witnesses in ongoing trials of the leaders of the right-wing militia groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.
Seven of those 27 have been sentenced to prison terms. One received a suspended sentence. Several more should learn their fates in the next few weeks. Some have completed their sentences. At least three await sentencing after pleading guilty.
The House Select Committee referred four criminal charges against Trump, and the Department of Justice is investigating. A special counsel also has been appointed to oversee several investigations involving Trump.
Carlson is one of a cadre of performers employed by Fox News who we now know have admitted airing information about election fraud they knew to be incorrect because they were more concerned about ratings and accuracy.
That concern was revealed in court filings from the defamation lawsuit brought against Fox by Dominion Voting Systems, the company that made voting machines. The words of Fox Chair Rupert Murdoch, numerous network executives and star performers such as Carlson removed the last doubt that Fox does not attempt to be a viable purveyor of news.
Members of Congress and news organizations have protested McCarthy’s decision to give all the video reviewed by the nonpartisan Jan. 6 commission to Carlson. His first broadcast portrayed those concerns.
McConnell called McCarthy’s decision to give Carlson the 44,000 hours of video “a mistake.” He called Carlson’s depiction “offensive” and “misleading.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and former Rep. Liz Cheney, who cochaired the Jan. 6 commission, also expressed anger as they rebuked Carlson’s portrayal.
In a follow-up interview with McClatchy newspapers, Tillis described how he witnessed Jan. 6.
“I saw people breaching fences, assaulting police officers, using pepper spray, breaking windows, destroying this building we’re walking through right now,” Tillis said. “And it was wrong.”
For his part, Trump on social media called for the hundreds arrested for their crimes that day to “go free.”