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Release of Previously Unseen Jan. 6th Footage Presents Different Picture of Capitol Break-in

Published: March 13, 2023
Jacob Anthony Angeli Chansley, known as the QAnon Shaman, is seen at the Capital riots. On Jan. 9, Chansley was arrested on federal charges of "knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds." (Image: Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

The release of previously unseen footage of the events that unfolded in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021 have renewed popular discussion about an incident presented in the mainstream media as a heinous attack on America’s democracy.

In late February, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy granted conservative media pundit Tucker Carlson exclusive access to some 41,000 hours of footage from the capitol buildings, which Carlson used to paint a very different picture than what has been broadcast to date.

In November 2021, Chansley was sentenced to 41 months in prison for his involvement in January 6, one of the longest sentences handed down in connection to the protests. Chansley was also sentenced to 36 months of supervised release and was ordered to pay $100.00 in restitution. 

Carlson said that after pouring over the footage, it’s apparent that it showed “mostly peaceful chaos,” rather than the organized insurrection portrayed to date. 

Carlson broadcasted the footage of Chansley being escorted through the Capitol by Police with police even opening and holding doors open for him. The video also showed Chansely at one point urging participants to go home and to remain peaceful. 

Fox News under attack

Carlson’s reporting immediately came under attack by both Democrats and Republicans ,with Senate Republicans blasting Fox News for allegedly portraying the events inaccurately. 

“It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here in the Capital thinks,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said according to the Washington Post. 

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), a once vocal supporter of president Donald Trump said, “To somehow put [Jan. 6] in the same category as a permitted peaceful protest is just a lie.”

McCarthy however remained confident that he did the right thing in releasing the footage to Carlson, and when asked if he had any regrets over the matter he responded, “No.”

“I said from the very beginning: transparency. Each person [can] come up with their own conclusion,” McCarthy said according to the Washington Post.

While Senate Republicans refrained from directly criticizing McCarthy’s decision to exclusively release the footage to Carlson, many said that the result was both offensive and bad politics.

“I can’t forecast what Speaker McCarthy was thinking about but if you’re going to give footage, give it to all the networks, not just one. I think it’s a very dangerous thing to do to suggest that attacking the Capitol of the United States is in any way acceptable and is anything other than a serious crime against democracy and against our country,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said. 

Carlson is accused of cherry-picking the footage to push a counter-narrative that sanitizes what happened on January 6.


Polarized narratives

Left-leaning media have been pushing the narrative that the events on Jan. 6, 2021 amounted to a deadly and violent insurrection while Carlson’s coverage appeared to stand in stark contrast to that narrative.

Fox News’ coverage prompted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to blast Carlson saying, “With disregard of the risks and knowing full well he was lying, lying to his audience, Fox News host Tucker Carlson ran a lengthy segment last night, arguing that the January 6 Capitol attack was not a violent insurrection,” CNBC reported.  

“Well, it wasn’t [a violent insurrection],” commented Chris Chappell, host of YouTube’s America Uncovered, who cited a Reuters article entitled, “Exclusive: FBI finds scant evidence U.S. Capitol attack was coordinated – sources.” 

Chappell said that according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), “who concluded months ago that the January 6 protests were not an insurrection,” further argued that, “By definition” it couldn’t have been an insurrection because “insurrections need to be coordinated.” Chappell’s interpretation of the footage is that the protesters on January 6 were “wildly unorganized.”

Also under scrutiny is the case of Capitol Police Officer, Brian Sicknick, who died a day after the protests after being allegedly assaulted by protesters. Left-leaning media have reported his death was due to injuries he received while protecting the Capitol on January 6 however, footage aired by Carlson suggests this may not have been the case. 

In fact, the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found that Sicknick died of natural causes after suffering multiple strokes.  

Carlson aired footage of Sicknick walking around the Capitol following his alleged assault and claimed that this was proof that the events of January 6 had nothing to do with his death. 

Sicknick’s family however are adamant that the events of January 6 played a role in his death citing a coroner’s report that said the events were a contributing factor.

“So, yes Carlson is likely cherry-picking in pushing a narrative for his viewers,” Chappell said, adding that, “But, that is not much of a surprise, since, you know, it’s Tucker Carlson.”

Chappell also argued that the left were also “cherry-picking” and “pushing misinformation of their own. Trying to portray the thousands of people at the Capitol on January 6 as deadly insurrectionists that were organized and tried to overthrow the government. When in reality they were wildly unorganized and several were actually led around the Capitol by police officers who didn’t appear to be trying to arrest them.”

Calls for clemency 

Following the airing of the never-before-seen footage the internet lit up with many calling for clemency for Chansley.

Tech mogul, Elon Musk, tweeted on March 10 “Free Jacob Chansley,” a tweet that garnered over 316,000 likes and over 84,000 retweets.

When accused of being part of the “MAGA movement,” Musk responded, “I’m not part of MAGA, but I do believe in fairness of justice. Chansley was falsely portrayed in the media as a violent criminal who tried to overthrow the state and who urged others to commit violence,” adding that, “But here he is urging people to be peaceful and go home. And the other video shows him calmly walking in the Capitol building, being escorted by officers and then thanking the officers.”

At one point on March 10, “Free Jacob Chansley” was trending on Twitter with over 24,000 tweets.