Fox News host Tucker Carlson mocked the criticism he received on Tuesday from congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), during the second night of his prime-time show focusing on the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.
“They’re all on the same side. So it’s actually not about left and right. It’s not about Republicans and Democrats. Here, you have people with shared interests….The people who, underneath it all, have everything in common are all aligned against everyone else,” Carlson said.
McConnell in a press conference earlier Tuesday said he wanted to associate himself “with the opinion of the chief of the Capitol police about what happened on Jan. 6,” referring to Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, who said that Carlson’s Monday night show was filled with “offensive and misleading conclusions about the Jan. 6 attack.”
Carlson used security footage to argue on his Monday night show that the violence on Jan. 6 was “mostly peaceful chaos.” The network said 3.6 million people watched Carlson’s show on Monday, a notable bump from the 3 million the host typically averages per weeknight.
Schumer said on the Senate floor earlier in the day that Carlson’s show was “one of the most shameful hours we’ve seen on cable television,” calling on Fox News and its owner Rupert Murdoch to tell Carlson to not air more security footage.
“You don’t often see the Senate Majority Leader openly call for censorship on the floor of the Senate, as if that was totally normal and didn’t contradict the spirit and the letter of the First Amendment. But, of course, it does,” Carlson said. “But what’s really happening, or what you’re seeing, is hysteria — the overstatement, the crazed hyperbole, the red-in-the face anger. What is that? Outrage? Of course, it’s fear. It’s panic.”
Carlson additionally name-checked GOP Sens. Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Mitt Romney (Utah), who had also criticized his Monday night show.
“One thing we learned today is that they’re all in agreement with each other,” he said, lumping them in with Democratic critics.
“They kind of outed themselves. They sort of showed their membership cards of whatever club this is to the public. So keep a list. If you want to know who’s actually aligned, despite the illusion of partisanship, we found out today,” Carlson said.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had granted Carlson exclusive access to a trove of around 44,000 hours of Capitol security footage from Jan. 6, but told reports on Tuesday evening that he did not watch Carlson’s show on Monday night.
McCarthy said that he did not regret giving Carlson access to the footage in wake of the criticism.
“I said at the very beginning, transparency. And so what I wanted to produce for everybody is exactly what I said. The people could actually look at it and see what’s gone on that day,” McCarthy said.
Fox News declined to comment earlier Tuesday on the bipartisan criticism the network’s top host faced.
Carlson claimed that as far as he knew, “no media organization in the country pressed to see the actual tape, the Jan. 6 surveillance footage.” Attorney Charles Tobin sent a letter last month on behalf of 10 media organizations, including ABC, Axios, CNN and CBS, requesting access to the footage, and media organizations have pushed since 2021 for access to video exhibits from Jan. 6 cases.
Carlson also on Tuesday aired footage of a sit-down interview with Tarek Johnson, a former Capitol Police officer, who weighed in on why the force was largely unprepared for the attack.
Johnson was pictured wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat on Jan. 6, which he told Carlson he put on out of “self-preservation” and to more easily navigate the crowd.
The former officer said he was working in the Senate that day, seeking to sound the alarm for supervisors, yet he received little response when he asked for direction over the radio.
“The person that I thought was going to authorize the evacuation didn’t do it. I wanted to get those members of Congress out as quickly as I could,” Johnson said on the show.
Throughout the segment, Carlson references Yogananda Pittman, then the head of the intelligence service, faulting her for failing to respond to Johnson’s call.
Johnson doesn’t focus on Pittman in the clips shown during the segment, but he has mentioned her in previous interviews with other news outlets, something that prompted a response from USCP.
“The former employee you interviewed was part of Uniformed Operations, not Intelligence and Protective services. It is baffling why this former employee is attacking Pittman, who was not in his chain of command. For example, officials in Uniformed Operations who were inside the Capitol addressed his request to evacuate the rest of the Senate, responded to the scene, and provided direction,” USCP said in a statement to NPR earlier this month.
Carlson also describes Johnson as a Biden voter, but the former officer told NPR he voted for former President Trump in 2016.
Pittman, who was promoted to chief of the force shortly after the attack, is no longer with the agency, but has been blamed for leading a service that failed to fully distribute the intelligence collected in the days before the attack, a failure also seen at other intelligence outlets.