Fox News propagandist and conspiracy theorist Tucker Carlson, with video handed over to him exclusively by feckless House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, is misleading his viewers by representing the Jan. 6th riot as a peaceful get-together, a sight-seeing tour.
Carlson continues to demonstrate a reckless disregard for the truth. He does so in spite of the fact that Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch testified under oath that several of the channel’s hosts knowingly lied to their viewers about the 2020 election being stolen.
By Fox maintaining a narrative for which there is no evidence, they are indoctrinating viewers and advancing a false pretext for the ongoing incitement of political violence.
Recalling a certain law enforcement officer’s story offers us a timely reminder of what really went down on Jan. 6th and what the risks of Fox’s misinformation portends for the future.
On the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, Metropolitan Department Police officer Michael Fanone was preparing to join his brothers and sisters in blue, after he was alerted that they were under siege at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
Upon readying himself to depart his mother’s home, she insisted that he stay a little longer while she prayed.
“We bowed our heads,” Michael recalled. His mom then invoked St. Michael, the patron saint of police officers: “Holy Spirit,” she prayed, “protect my Michael. Be in his eyes in his seeing, in his ears in his hearing, his lips in his speaking, his heart in his thinking. St. Michael surrounds him. Amen.”
Jan. 6 was one of Fanone’s final days as an active police officer. He documented his experience (with John Shiffman), in his chilling memoir, “Hold the Line: The Insurrection and One Cop’s Battle for America’s Soul.”
When he arrived at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6 Fanone, a 20-year veteran of the MPD, was dragged down the Capitol steps by rioters, battered with fists and metal objects, pepper-sprayed, incapacitated by a taser and threatened with his own gun – “Kill him with his gun!” one individual in the mob demanded.
Fanone suffered a heart attack, traumatic brain injury, posttraumatic stress, and severe burns to his neck. What saved his life, he believes, was making a plea to Trump’s domestic terrorists for empathy in the interest of his children.
He has since testified before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol and has been a staple on cable news programs, to the antipathy of some who would prefer he stay silent.
Eighteen months after the attempted coup, a Monmouth University poll was conducted with a random sample of 808 adults age 18 and older. When respondents were asked to characterize the assault on the Capitol building, 64% said “riot” is appropriate and 52% said “insurrection” is appropriate, while 35% said it is appropriate to call it a “legitimate protest.”
The poll found that 6 in 10 Republicans still believed Biden won the 2020 presidential election due to voter fraud, thanks in large part to the knowing falsehoods spread by Fox News hosts Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, to name just a few.
“What does Mike Fanone deserve? A parade? A key to the city?” asked Molly Ball, reporting for TIME magazine. “He’s not asking for any of that. He’s not asking to be called a hero – he just wants us to remember what his sacrifice was for,” she emphasized.
Remember we should.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers risked their lives and sustained traumatic medical injuries on Jan. 6. Yet, the gaslighting Fox News hosts prefer that their viewers deny the truth to curry favor with Trump and deepen the nation’s divide.
Despite revealing testimony and compelling video evidence presented at the Jan. 6 hearings, the public opinion needle has not moved “on Trump’s culpability for either the riot or his spurious election fraud claims,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “This continues to give political cover to Republican leaders who avoided addressing the damage done to our democratic processes that day.”
On Dec. 15, 2022, law enforcement officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 were awarded Congressional Gold Medals for protecting our democracy and defending the Constitution against the violent mob of MAGA extremists who sought to overturn a free and fair election.
The commendation reads, in part, “The MPD did not retreat, and though outnumbered, exhausted, and injured, they remained determined and spent hours fending off the attackers without reluctance.” Fox News does not want their viewers to know this or see the video that documents it.
Notwithstanding what that solemn occasion represented, 21 House Republican ingrates, many of whom rarely hesitate to publicly express how strongly they “back the blue,” voted against awarding the Congressional Gold Medals to the officers who responded so valiantly to the Jan. 6th assault on democracy.
“The lack of support shown by the most rabid pro-police political factions towards the Capitol Police officers assaulted on January 6, 2021 has been a huge blow to law enforcement that will have repercussions for years to come,” commented voting rights expert Sherrilyn Ifill in her Jan. 27 newsletter.
What we need is a U.S. Congress that collectively validates lived history, denounces election denialism and political violence, and honors the men and women in blue for all they endured for us on January 6th.
Lest we forget.