A federal judge slammed the Jan. 6 riot segment former Fox anchor Tucker Carlson hosted in March 2023 — after receiving exclusive access to the Capitol building security footage from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — calling the broadcast “replete with misstatements and misrepresentations … too numerous to count.”
Judge Royce Lamberth’s rebuke was part of a Thursday court decision denying QAnon Shaman Jacob Chansley’s motion to vacate his conviction. Chansley had argued that Carlson’s segment cast new light on his activities in the Capitol.
“The Court would be remiss if it did not address the ill-advised television program of March 6, 2023,” the judge wrote in a 35-page opinion, referring to Carlson’s segment on the riot. “Not only was the broadcast replete with misstatements and misrepresentations regarding the events of January 6, 2021 too numerous to count, the host explicitly questioned the integrity of this Court — not to mention the legitimacy of the entire U.S. criminal justice system — with inflammatory characterizations of cherry-picked videos stripped of their proper context.”
“Those of us who have presided over dozens of cases arising from, listened to hundreds of hours of testimony describing, and reviewed thousands of pages of briefing about the attack on our democracy of January 6 know all too well that neither the events of that day nor any particular defendant’s involvement can be fully captured in a seconds-long video carelessly, or perhaps even cynically, aired in a television segment or attached to a tweet,” the judge continued.
In early March— weeks after receiving exclusive access to Jan. 6 security footage from McCarthy — Carlson took to his former conspiracy theory swamp show to try and undermine the facts surrounding the Capitol attack, mostly through a montage of carefully selected and clipped videos. During the segment he highlighted Chansley walking through Capitol hallways accompanied by police officers and falsely claimed that the deadly riot was a “mostly peaceful chaos” with “sightseers” touring the building with police escorts.
The painfully selective edit of the Jan. 6 footage Carlson aired received bipartisan backlash, including from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), for its misleading narrative.
But despite all the pushback, following the broadcast, Chansley — who pleaded guilty in September 2021 to obstructing Congress’ proceeding — filed a motion arguing that the footage Carlson made public is exculpatory to his case and claimed that the government withheld the footage.
In the opinion Lamberth rejected Chansley’s argument, saying none of the videos aired by Carlson are actually exculpatory — despite the defendant and his legal team’s claims — especially given the context of the footage and the conduct Chansley admitted to during his trial.
“[Chansley’s] argument suffers from the same fatal defect as the March 6, 2023 broadcast,” the judge wrote. “It lacks the context of what occurred before and after … Whether the videos from the March 6, 2023 television segment are viewed individually or in context with the rest of the evidence against Mr. Chansley, the videos are not exculpatory.”
Read the judge’s opinion here: