As part of a deal to get Speaker Kevin McCarthy elected to the top House post, Tucker Carlson of Fox News received nearly 41,000 hours of January 6 video footage that was previously not made public. Carlson hyped the preparations for weeks, promising that the revelations would constitute bombshell reporting on Monday and Tuesday this week.
His commentary and selected video clips did confirm a few things that much of the conservative media had predicted. But if the idea was to neutralize the Democrats' narrative about J6, the Tucker videos fell hopelessly short.
The Dems' clever plan for nearly two years has been to peddle the false narrative that former President Trump directed the attack that caused a violent mob to deface the Capitol and disrupt official business to certify a new president. While Trump encouraged his supporters to march, he had asked them to do so peacefully. The certification of Biden was never in doubt - nor was it delayed - as Vice President Mike Pence duly presided over the largely ceremonious proceedings.
In due course, the House impeached Trump a second time, charging that he incited "the insurrection," although an FBI report said that the attack had been planned two days before Trump's speech. The Senate took up the articles of impeachment on February 9, 2021. It concluded with his acquittal on February 13, an outcome that was no surprise. The only penalty the Senate can hand down in impeachment proceedings is removal from office. Trump had already left office.
There was more to punish Trump and his 75 million voters. Twitter and Facebook banned Trump indefinitely, as did Instagram and YouTube. Parler, a conservative social media alternative to the legacy Twitter, got pulled from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for not following the community standards of those two companies. Amazon Web Services dealt a fatal blow to Parler and refused to host the platform. Suddenly the Trump world had no public voice.
But the Dems were not yet done destroying a political rival. Under the excuse that Trump was a threat to democracy, they constituted a partisan committee to investigate what happened on J6, naming to the panel two Republican Trump haters, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who had voted to impeach Trump. Using millions of tax dollars and primetime television, they used their subpoena power to commission a report that found Trump entirely at fault for triggering the events of January 6.
During two hours of his primetime show, Carlson had a unique opportunity to dispel several conclusions of the Dems' J6 narrative. He could have asked why the protests even happened, reminding viewers that the outcome of the 2020 election was anecdotally doubtful. No American president in 180 years had failed to win re-election if he won more votes than in the first election. Trump had done extraordinarily well for someone who was so vilified. He won 11 million more votes than his 2016 count, for a total of 74 million. [In 2012, Obama handsomely won re-election although he earned 4 million fewer votes than his 2008 total]. A Fox News poll released in December 2020 found that 77 percent of Trump voters - some 56 million - thought the election had been stolen. Nearly every court that dismissed Trump's post-election challenges relied on technical grounds but never examined the underlying election processes.
Tucker could have examined the various last-minute election laws the Democrats pushed through in 2020. We have pointed out numerous times in these columns that what changed in 2020 was the number of people who voted absentee in states that had little experience with no-excuse mail-in balloting. In states where the Left had no legislative control (Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Wisconsin), they filed over 145 lawsuits alleging that Covid shutdowns would disproportionately disenfranchise minorities and other communities of color. The remedies they sought were relaxed rules to accept late mail-in ballots and eliminating restrictions to verify ballot signatures against voter rolls. The J6 committee never looked at these issues. Tucker should have.
Tucker had access to so much video footage that if a person watched an hour of the material each day, it would take that person 112 years to finish viewing all the clips. Yet, even with a professional team combing over so much material quickly, he did not provide any evidence that disproved the Democratic narrative for two years. The J6 committee had done a clever job airing these violent moments in a loop - something the TV networks repeated for months. Tucker's clips showing that most protesters were peaceful and walked around the Capitol as tourists do not nullify J6 video clips that showed violent protesters.
We are not apologists for those miscreants that stormed our Capitol. But we want to know why there continues to be so much discord about something as foundational as the conduct of elections in the world's oldest democracy. America has had a peaceful transfer of power for the last 46 presidencies, including in 2021. But the two parties are never more divided about voting rights and integrity, with President Biden again throwing fuel on the voting rights fire in Selma last week.
Tucker could have used the J6 videos to educate the nation about this divide. The attack on the Capitol had never happened before, but it did. Hundreds of thousands of voters didn't travel to Washington voluntarily and march to the Capitol just because Trump asked them to do so. They believed that something was wrong and were protesting over something more fundamental.
Tucker's two shows were a missed opportunity. But, unlike the J6 committee's primetime soap opera last summer with a defined end date, Tucker's show is one of the most watched TV programs in media history. He still has several months to answer these questions for the nation's benefit. America goes to the polls to elect our 47th president in just 20 months.