In order to justify his invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin had to rewrite history. So did Josef Stalin.
On Monday night, Tucker Carlson tried to rewrite the history of January 6, 2021. He got help from Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.
Here is David A. Graham at The Atlantic:
Carlson is working from security tape released exclusively to him by Speaker Kevin McCarthy. At least in what Carlson has shown so far, nothing emerges that changes the known narrative of the day, but Carlson is a talented propagandist, so it’s morbidly interesting to see how he approaches it. Carlson can’t erase the images that everyone has seen of chaos and destruction, so he tries to recontextualize them.
“The first thing you notice is how many people entered the Capitol building,” Carlson says. “A small percentage of them were hooligans.” Showing clips of the Capitol’s interlopers lining up or righting overturned furniture, he intones, in his inimitably smug, incredulous voice, “They were peaceful, orderly, and meek. They were not insurrectionists. They were sightseers.”
Even allowing for Carlson’s point that many of those on tape are not engaging in active vandalism, this is an odd description of people who broke through a cordon of hundreds of police to trespass and disrupt a constitutional proceeding. Equally strange is his insistence that they were “people who believe in the system,” given that they were interfering with the system. (Many of them likely did sincerely believe lies about election fraud—lies fed to them by, among others, Carlson.)
Carlson zeroes in on the case of Jacob Chansley, the man in body paint and a fur-and-horn hat who is often called the QAnon Shaman. Carlson notes that while standing at the dais in the Senate, Chansley offered a prayer for Capitol Police officers, but claims that “you would never have known from the media coverage.” Awkwardly, the footage he plays to show this includes a watermark revealing its origin: It was captured by the New Yorker journalist Luke Mogelson, published within days of the riot, widely replayed by other outlets, and awarded a prestigious media prize. (Although Carlson claims a media cover-up on the footage McCarthy gave him, other organizations have in fact sued to obtain it.)
On the one hand, this is all ridiculous. Look at the hallways they didn’t smear feces on and statues they didn’t deface! is not an especially good argument. On the other, it fits with a long-standing Donald Trump approach of demanding that his supporters believe him rather than their lying eyes. When word emerged of the phone call in which he tried to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to aid his reelection campaign, Trump first tried to bury the incident; when that proved impossible, he began insisting that the call “was perfect.” He later used the same description for a call in which he tried to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” him votes to defeat Joe Biden in that state in the 2020 election.
But it has taken longer to land on that tactic for January 6, in part because what happened was so appalling and so well recorded—not only by news and surveillance cameras, but also by the rioters, many of whom gleefully filmed themselves or took selfies or posted about their exploits on social media. Hundreds of them have been convicted and sentenced for crimes committed that day.
Early on, two defenses of Trump and the riot emerged. The first was that there had been a peaceful protest and a few people got out of hand—maybe they were overexuberant, or maybe they were agents provocateurs, but in any case they did not represent MAGA or Trump’s own wishes. The second was that actually the insurgents did nothing wrong; after all, the only person shot was the demonstrator turned martyr Ashli Babbitt, killed by a Capitol Police officer. Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia called the whole thing a “normal tourist visit,” even though he’d been filmed visibly panicked in the House chamber.
Read the entire piece here.
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