Believing Tucker Carlson's Jan. 6 lies is a choice, but most will choose the truth

By pushing a false narrative about Jan. 6, 2021, Carlson is handing the nation’s premier lunkheads the paint they need to whitewash hours of violence.

Rex Huppke

If you choose to believe the lies Fox News host Tucker Carlson is spouting about the Jan.6 domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol – and believing that huckster’s nonsense is most definitely a choice – then I have a superior bit of fiction for you.

I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, some truth.

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, in order to get the votes he needed to become speaker, caved to the conspiratorial weirdos in his party and agreed to release more than 40,000 hours of security video from the deadly attack on Jan. 6, 2021, handing the footage exclusively to Carlson, a noted dissembler who has at least pretended to sympathize with the rioters.

No insurrection? Yeah, right. That's (expletive)

Carlson began broadcasting selectively edited bits of video Monday night, claiming the people who stormed the Capitol to protest the 2020 election results were “sightseers.”

Riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“The footage does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress,” Carlson said, absurdly. “Instead it shows police escorting people through the building.”

As Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., told CNN Tuesday: “I think it’s bull----.”

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Also this week, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger wrote in an internal memo obtained by CNN: “An opinion program aired commentary that was filled with offensive and misleading conclusions about the January 6 attack. The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video. The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments.”

In 2020, Fox News’ own attorneys argued in a defamation lawsuit against Carlson that the host can’t be taken seriously. U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil wrote in her ruling dismissing the lawsuit that “given Mr. Carlson's reputation, any reasonable viewer 'arrive(s) with an appropriate amount of skepticism' about the statements he makes.” 

Further evidence that Carlson is a charlatan conning his audience came out in text messages released Tuesday as part of Dominion Voting Systems' defamation lawsuit against Fox News. In one text, Carlson wrote of former President Donald Trump, the man he's running interference for by trying to rewrite the Jan. 6 history: "I hate him passionately."

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So believing Carlson’s version of one of the darker days in American history is, again, a choice. And guess who’s choosing to believe it?

Trump, the current front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination and a guy who helped incite the riot, posted this cogent comment in response: “LET THE JANUARY 6 PRISONERS GO. THEY WERE CONVICTED, OR AWAITING TRIAL, BASED ON A GIANT LIE, A RADICAL LEFT CON JOB. THANK YOU TO TUCKER CARLSON AND SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE KEVIN MCCARTHY FOR WHAT YOU BOTH HAVE DONE. NEW VIDEO FOOTAGE IS IRREFUTABLE!!!”

House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries leads a bipartisan remembrance ceremony moment of silence on Jan. 6, 2023.

Super. Not to be out-dumbed, Twitter CEO and conspiracy fetishist Elon Musk tweeted this fantasy about the Jan. 6 committee: “Besides misleading the public, they withheld evidence for partisan political reasons that sent people to prison for far more serious crimes than they committed. That is deeply wrong, legally and morally.”

Americans have had it with Jan. 6 truthers and election denialism

By pushing a false narrative about Jan. 6, 2021, that’s on par with conspiratorial “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” blather from 9/11 truthers, Carlson is handing the nation’s premier lunkheads the paint they need to whitewash hours of violence during which more than 100 police officers were assaulted.

Nearly 1,000 rioters have been arrested since the attack, and about half have pleaded guilty to an array of federal charges.

We all witnessed the events of Jan. 6, 2021. The recent midterm elections showed Americans have little appetite for election denialism, and I'd argue way more of the roughly 250 million adults in America know the truth, regardless of what the 3.5 million people who watch Carlson’s nightly show choose to believe.

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A truly fabulous fiction about Jan. 6, for those who wish to believe nonsense

But for those who want a fictional account of that day, I’ll give you one far better, and equally accurate, to whatever Carlson plans on cooking up in the days ahead.

The radicals on the left want you to believe there was a “domestic terrorist attack” on the U.S. Capitol on “Jan. 6.” Well I have news for real Americans out there seeking the truth: There was no Jan. 6.

That date didn’t even exist in the year 2021. The zealots at Big Calendar will say otherwise, but I have proof, based on the movement of celestial bodies, that in that particular year, we went from Jan. 5 straight to Jan. 7. Nice try, libs.

The so-called events at the U.S. Capitol actually occurred on Jan. 7, and they were entirely peaceful. Look at this video of a calm meadow on a sunny day. See what I mean? Peaceful.

Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.

The patriotic tourists who arrived at the Capitol bearing gifts for lawmakers were the real victims. As they merrily walked up to the building, the glass on many of the exterior doors spontaneously exploded. Then U.S. Capitol Police officers came along and began slamming their faces into the fists of the innocent and unsuspecting visitors. You don’t hear anything in the mainstream press about the number of knuckle injuries suffered by these peaceful souls.

Once inside the building, the police officers pretended to be tour guides, showing the good-natured tourists around and leading them in what they thought was a satirical chant of “Hang Mike Pence!” 

After the group of well-intentioned patriots peacefully left to get a lunch of cucumber sandwiches and tea, the police officers apparently broke a bunch of stuff and desecrated the sacred halls of our democracy. The end.

You think that sounds far-fetched? It’s as reliable as anything Tucker Carlson will tell you. Believing in my version, like believing in his, is a choice.

Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on Twitter @RexHuppke and Facebook