Tucker Carlson Can’t Call His January 6 Tapes Real Journalism: When it was released in 1935, Triumph of the Will was seen as a ground-breaking film, noted for its use of moving cameras, aerial photography, and long-focus lenses to create a distorted perspective. It was also revolutionary in its use of music, cinematography, and editing.
It is still considered one of the greatest propaganda films ever made.
Directed, produced, and most importantly edited by Leni Riefenstahl, the film showed none of Nazi Germany’s genocidal or anti-Semitic policies. The narrative was carefully edited, and until her death, Riefenstahl defended her film as being purely historical in nature.
Tucker Carlson and That Footage
Perhaps Fox News’ Tucker Carlson can attempt to similarly dismiss his careful editing and selection of the more than 41,000 hours of January 6 security footage that he was provided of the U.S. Capitol attack on January 6, 2021.
By contrast, Riefenstahl condensed just 61 hours of footage into the final 114-minute-long film.
Getting to the Facts
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had decided to release the thousands of hours of footage to Fox News, and the prime-time host “concluded” that the footage somehow “proves” that lawmakers and even the media had lied about the events that took place on January 6.
In a handful of clips, lasting no more than a few minutes, protestors are seen essentially as peaceful tourists – with Capitol police even reportedly “escorting” individuals including Jacob Chansley, a U.S. Navy veteran who became widely known as the “QAnon Shaman,” around the building without incident.
“If he was in fact committing such a grave crime, why didn’t the officers who were standing right next to him place him under arrest?” Carlson asked.
Going to the Tape
However, it has also been noted that with 40,000 hours of video footage, it would take an individual nine years, watching 12 hours of video seven days a week to get through it all. Even for Carlson’s staff to view all of it would still take 133 people 20 hours a day for some 15 days.
What was shown by Carlson could also be described as carefully selected to present a narrative while dismissing anything that contrasted it.
The video may show some “peaceful” moments, but that doesn’t change the fact that protestors broke through doors and illegally entered the Capitol Building.
Already some GOP lawmakers have questioned the motives in recasting January 6 into something beyond a dark stain on our nation’s history.
“It’s definitely stupid to keep talking about this … So what is the purpose of continuing to bring it up unless you’re trying to feed Democrat narratives even further?” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said in an interview, Politico reported. The lawmaker added that the videos fail to show “anything we don’t already know.”
“I don’t really have a problem with making it all public. But if your message is then to try and convince people that nothing bad happened, then it’s just gonna make us look silly,” Crenshaw added.
It Was Still A Riot
Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) also suggested that Jan. 6 “was not a peaceful protest. It was not an insurrection. It was a riot that should have never happened. And a lot of people share blame for that. The truth is always messier than any narrative.”
Armstrong’s point is valid
An important consideration is that the storming of the Capitol had absolutely no impact on the outcome of the election, and it is wrong to classify it as an insurrection. Though those who took part may have wanted a different outcome, their actions couldn’t have changed the will of the American people – and it wouldn’t have overthrown the government as some have argued.
Yet, it was still very much a violent riot that resulted in the death of a member of law enforcement, and injuries to several others.
It also put U.S. lawmakers in harm’s way – and that is simply inexcusable. That is why prosecutors have suggested that the released footage really changes nothing.
The question that should be asked isn’t what is in the 40,000 hours of unedited footage – of which Tucker Carlson has shared only a few moments that he claims change the narrative – but rather what is Tucker Carlson’s endgame?
The answer may be “audience.”
Let’s consider how critics of social media contend that the platforms are designed with “dark patterns” that make users stay engaged. The more people take time to argue with strangers, the better it is for the platforms’ bottom lines. Carlson is playing a similar game – it is shock TV at its finest.
This isn’t about the truth. It is about getting eyeballs, plain and simple.
It was revealed in the past week that the Fox News prime-time host said he “passionately hated” former President Donald Trump, even as his prime-time show had publicly supported Trump’s claims of a stolen election, and voter fraud.
Carlson’s Careful Edits of His Background
It isn’t just the Capitol riot that Carlson has carefully edited, but his own background. He attended a boarding school in Switzerland, while the 53-year-old is also a graduate of Trinity College, a private arts college in Hartford, Connecticut. The former CNN host was also a registered Democrat until 2020 – for which he claims was so that he could vote in Democratic primaries in Washington, D.C.
As The New Republic also recently suggested, Carlson often rails against “the elites” in Washington, yet is himself an elite who likely believes his right-wing Middle America audience is stupid.
And they keep tuning in.
Tucker Carlson has selectively shared footage of January 6 to entice viewers to tune in, and it has been a gold mine. He’s also been the subject of dozens of articles, including this one. That’s his endgame. He’s no longer journalist, and shouldn’t be seen as one.
He has become part of the story.
Bad For the Country
The sad part is that it won’t change anything. This isn’t about solving a mystery or even trying to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6. Instead, Carlson’s actions will embolden those who maintain that the riot was actually peaceful, while it even serves to weaken the Republican Party. Moderate Republicans have moved on from Trump – as noted by the 2022 midterms, even as the loyal MAGA base has made clear it is Trump or no one.
Perhaps Carlson actually wants President Joe Biden to win a second term – it is certainly easier to be the voice of the opposition than a cheerleader for the White House.
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Author Experience and Expertise:
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.