OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave back as good as he got from reporters on Tuesday who appeared to be critical of his decision to provide Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s team access to more than 41,000 hours of previously unseen video footage of the riot at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021.
The reporters’ comments came after Carlson aired several clips of the riot on his Monday program, claiming that members of the Democrat-led House January 6 Committee formed by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have “lied” to Americans about key events that day.
“Do you regret giving him this footage so he could whitewash the events of that day?” one reporter asked the California Republican.
McCarthy responded by defending Carlson and his decision, citing “transparency” as a major reason why he gave Fox News first access.
“I said at the very beginning – transparency. And so what I want to produce for everybody is exactly what I said, that people can actually look at it and see what’s gone on that day,” McCarthy noted.
“Each person can come up with their own conclusion [about the footage], but what I just want to make sure is I had transparency,” he added.
McCarthy took specific aim at CNN for its coverage, which he said had raised significant security concerns for lawmakers like himself in the past. He reiterated that his goal is to ensure transparency moving forward.
Kevin McCarthy doesn't regret giving Tucker the J6 footage:
"I said at the very beginning: transparency. What I wanted to produce for everyone was exactly what I said so people could look at it and see what went on that day." pic.twitter.com/uYJHyWuhuv
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) March 8, 2023
Carlson said during his Monday show that Americans had been “lied” to about at least some of the events of Jan. 6, and he called out specific members of the January 6 Committee in particular.
“If there’s one takeaway from the corpus of footage that we spent three weeks looking at, it’s that the January 6th committee lied,” he said. “Its members are liars, and as the result of those lies, core civil liberties in this country were eroded, people went to prison. They’re in prison as of right now, unjustly. So those lies had consequences.
“So you have to ask yourself, whatever happened to the members of the January 6th committee, these liars who hurt people and the country?” he added. “Well, let’s see, Adam Schiff is running for Senate. Adam Kinzinger got a job at CNN. Liz Cheney somehow wound up a professor at the University of Virginia, the august University of Virginia. They’re all still there. Benny Thompson. Ooh, listen to his wisdom. But they’re liars, and above all,” he added.
Last month, McCarthy honored his promise to release the 41,000 hours of surveillance footage filmed during the Jan. 6 incident at the US Capitol.
Axios co-founder Mike Allen reported: “Carlson TV producers were on Capitol Hill last week to begin digging through the trove, which includes multiple camera angles from all over Capitol grounds. Excerpts will begin airing in the coming weeks.”
Earlier in February, Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Lauren Boebert of Colorado announced that McCarthy had agreed to release more of the footage to the public.
Gaetz said McCarthy agreed to do so as part of a deal to win his and Boebert’s support, two Republicans in a group of about 20 that held back their support for days, denying him the speaker’s gavel.
“The American people deserve to know the truth about what happened on January 6th. We have demanded to see all the footage. Transparency is coming,” Gaetz said. “Every time from the JFK files, to 9/11, to now January 6th. It’s our own government, our own Department of Justice that seems to stand in the way of transparency.”
He also doubled down on his call to bring in more CSPAN cameras to the House floor.
“If we had cameras on the floor, my suspicion is we would have far better attendance during debates that impact the lives of our fellow Americans,” he said.
Boebert added on Twitter: “Speaker McCarthy says he’ll be releasing ALL the footage from January 6th. Considering all the public has seen are edited clips from a bunch of Democrats with an axe to grind, it sure will be nice to get some unbiased footage.”