Heavens to Betsy! It seems that Tucker Carlson has gone full truther. Or, if you prefer, disinformer about the tawdry events of January 6, when a motley crew of Trump supporters and Oath Keepers, who often appear to be one and the same, somehow took it into their heads not simply to protest the outcome of the presidential election but to storm the Winter Palace.
The trials of the perpetrators are ongoing. A House committee, which includes Liz Cheney as well as Adam Kinzinger, is investigating. And most Republican politicians, at least the ones with their eyes on regaining a congressional majority, are trying to put the episode firmly in the rear-view mirror.
Not Tucker. If the promo for his new documentary series Patriot Purge, which is supposed to air next week, is evidence, he has become the premier apologist for the storming of the Capitol, potentially eclipsing even Steve Bannon in his avidity to cater to the radical right.
In September, Carlson proclaimed, “the vast majority of people inside the Capitol on January 6 were peaceful. They were not insurrectionists, they shouldn’t have been there. They weren’t trying to overthrow the government. That’s a total crock.” He knows better. And now he’s intent on flagging for his viewers that January 6 was, in fact, a false flag operation on the basis of which the American government is now conducting nothing less than a “domestic war on terror” on “half of the country.”
Vanity Fair has gone to the trouble of conducting to what amounts to a forensic examination of the trailer, which apparently includes such gems as a woman declaring that “false flags have happened in this country. One of which may have been January 6.” Carlson himself offers this pearl of wisdom in the trailer: “The helicopters have left Afghanistan, and now they’ve landed here at home.”
Excuse me, but I thought that was the point of the exit from Afghanistan, an exit, incidentally, that Carlson has been championing for years. But his “conclusion” is that the “US government has in fact launched a new on terror. But it’s not against al-Qaeda, it’s against American citizens.” So we’re back to black — the black helicopters that the lunatic Representative Helen Chenoweth of Idaho held hearings about during the Clinton administration.
The hue and cry that Carlson doubtless hoped to trigger is already taking place. The Anti-Defamation League has voiced its perturbation, stating that airing the documentary could result in “harm toward our public officials.” So has Geraldo Rivera. Not to mention Liz Cheney: “It appears that @FoxNews is giving @TuckerCarlson a platform to spread the same type of lies that provoked violence on January 6,” she said on Twitter. And Adam Kinzinger: “This is disgusting. It appears @foxnews isn’t even pretending anymore.”
It seems unlikely that Carlson will flinch in his battle. The outraged reaction will probably confirm his conviction that he, no less than the folks that stormed the Capitol, is the victim of a nefarious media and political elite, intent on suppressing those who simply want to tell the truth. In decrying Cheney, he observed, “That is not how a free society works. Politicians don’t get to put parameters around your thoughts.” But it isn’t just politicians who are condemning his egregious pap. As the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt noted, “As an organization committed to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of hate, we remain deeply concerned that the false narrative and wild conspiracy theories presented by Carlson will sow further division and has the potential to animate violence.”
Carlson should stop flattering himself. He isn’t telling truth to power. He’s behaving like an intellectual arsonist.