One year ago, Donald Trump sent his glassy-eyed disciples on a mission to undermine American democracy in a violent attempt to cling to power and fulfill his authoritarian aspirations. What resulted was a deadly assault on Congress that put the lives its members – and even Trump’s vice-president – at dire risk of grave injury or worse.
Trump’s January 6th insurrection will be remembered as among the darkest days of American history. Except, of course, by Trump and his treasonous cohorts. In fact, Trump has already responded to the observance of the anniversary of his coup attempt with exactly the sort of grotesquery for which he is so well known.
Meanwhile, Trump’s Ministry of Propaganda (aka Fox News) was on its own mission to keep its viewers pitifully ignorant and drenched in disinformation. On this solemn occasion, the narrative on Fox News was that there was no insurrection at all. Fox has adopted Trump’s wholly fictional framing of the horrific affair as “protest” by peaceful patriots. And the first order of business was to slap down any wayward Republicans who diverted from that doctrine.
At the forefront of this media spin cycle was Tucker Carlson, Fox’s Senior White Nationalist. Carlson was aghast at hearing Sen. Ted Cruz describe the insurrection as “a terror attack.” And he let Cruz know it when the disobedient senator submitted himself for discipline. For his part, Cruz bent over with shameless contrition:
Carlson: You call this a terror attack when by no definition was it a terror attack. That was a lie. You told that lie on purpose and I’m wondering why you did.
Cruz: The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and, frankly, it was dumb.
Carlson: I don’t buy that. Whoa whoa whoa! I don’t buy that. […] Every word – you repeated that phrase. I do not believe that you used that accidentally. I just don’t! […]
Cruz: Tucker, I agree with you. It was a mistake to say that yesterday.
Carlson: I guess I just don’t believe you. And I mean that with respect.
Ted Cruz grovels apologetically to Tucker Carlson for his "sloppy" comments about January 6 being a "terrorist attack" pic.twitter.com/ZBPgLLBWIL
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 7, 2022
Respect? Carlson repeatedly called Cruz a liar to his face, and Cruz agreed with him. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone who recalls that Cruz still became a Trump suck-up after Trump insulted his wife and accused his father of assassinating John F. Kennedy. This is pretty good evidence that Fox News is not the media arm of the Republican Party. but that the Republican Party is the political arm of Fox News.
As for Carlson’s assertion that the insurrection was by “no definition” a terrorist attack, he might want to check the Justice Department’s definition of terrorism that states that…
“The FBI defines terrorism, domestic or international, as the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government or civilian population in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
In other words, precisely what took place on January 6, 2021. However, while that exchange looks pretty awful for both Carlson and Cruz, it wasn’t the worst of Carlson’s blather. Prior to emasculating Cruz, Carlson constructed an alternate reality about the insurrection:
“If you take three steps back as historical events go, if we are being honest now, Jan. 6 barely rates as a footnote. Really not a lot happened that day if you think about it. The presidential election was not overturned, the Capitol was not destroyed, the government was not toppled, no matter what you may have heard. Not a single elected official was injured. […] None of the so-called insurrectionists had guns.”
Tucker Carlson: "But if you take three steps back as historical events go if we are being honest now, January 6th barely rates as a footnote. Really not a lot happened that day if you think about it." pic.twitter.com/84oPXKOuHk
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) January 7, 2022
“Not a lot happened?” Sure, if you regard five deaths, 140 injured police officers, $30 million in damage, and the stain on the constitutional principle of democratic self-governance as “not a lot.”
Carlson’s interpretation of the banality of the insurrection is preposterous and purposefully dishonest. Just because it failed doesn’t mean that it wasn’t profoundly destructive and a threat to the future of a free nation. Would Carlson say that “not a lot happened” if a man survived a heart attack while his house was on fire, just because he lived through it and the fire was eventually extinguished? In that analogy, quite a lot happened and the victim’s life was forever changed.
Perhaps a better analogy would be to ask Carlson how he would feel if a marauding mob invaded the Fox News offices, smashed through doors and windows, assaulted police and security, and vandalized property, while chanting “Hang Rupert Murdoch.”
What’s more, Carlson’s claim that “None of the so-called insurrectionists had guns,” was another flagrant lie. PolitiFact debunked that falsehood last year when Fox’s Maria Bartiromo and Trump were disgorging it:
“Court records and news reports show that many insurrectionists were armed, and several were charged with having firearms on Capitol grounds or stashed nearby while in Washington D.C. In addition, rioters had weapons other than firearms and used them during the attack.”
Finally, Carlson deliberately mangled what President Biden said in his January 6th speech:
“Biden told the country that, in fact, symbolically January 6th was worse than the Civil War. The American Civil War. That would be the war that killed more than a million people. January 6th was worse than that because somebody held a naughty flag.”
Of course, Biden never said that. And Carlson’s noxious trivialization of the congressional invasion as merely “naughty” is typical of his irredeemably deceitful character, or lack thereof. What Biden actually said was:
“Rioters rampaging, waving for the first time inside this Capitol a Confederate flag that symbolized the cause to destroy America, to rip us apart. Even during the Civil War, that never, ever happened. But it happened here in 2021.”
Biden wasn’t saying that the insurrection was worse than the Civil War. He was merely pointing out the Confederate rebels never managed to carry their flag into the seat of the U.S. government. Carlson knows that. He just wants to further drown his dimwitted viewers in lies and to keep them artificially enraged. All the better to send them into the next insurrection that Carlson surely wants see take place.
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