Last February, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave full access to Capitol security footage from the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection to now-fired Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Carlson's show swiftly used the tapes to churn out an almost maudlin segment claiming that the rioters were "orderly and meek" in between their bloody attacks on police officers, ransacking of congressional offices, and hunts for Donald Trump's named political enemies.
The debacle ended up a humiliating episode for McCarthy, and only partly because the speaker’s claims that he wasn't just giving Carlson the footage and he'd be releasing the footage to the public and the American media in general quickly proved to be a lie.
Fear not, America: On Wednesday, we learned that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy would finally be following up on his release of the Capitol security footage to Carlson by allowing three more not-quite-journalists "unfettered" access to the tapes. The new winners are conspiracy peddler John Solomon, conspiracy peddler Julie Kelly, and a "third outlet" apparently too embarrassing to mention in public. And it was the conspiracy-peddling Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who announced this "huge news" on Twitter.
Media Matters has the context here, and it is very instructive. You might know John Solomon for shamelessly laundering Rudy Giuliani-pushed conspiracy theories to claim that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections and that it was the Biden family, not Dear Orange Leader, who had crookedly held up U.S. aid to Ukraine in an attempt to bully Ukraine's government into providing election help. Solomon's conspiracy-pushing became so egregious that his publisher, media outlet The Hill, announced it would be "reviewing" and "correcting" his work—and Solomon was booted from his position shortly afterward.
You can already guess, then, who Julie Kelly might be. Kelly's most famous not-journalism claim might be when she piped up to accuse D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, who was attacked during the insurrection, of being a "crisis actor." She also claimed the pipe bombs left near the offices of the Democratic and Republican National Committees before the riots were a "hoax," and believes the arrest and prosecution of Jan. 6 rioters proves Joe Biden is worse than Vladimir Putin.
So that is who Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy thinks is next worthy of combing through every bit of Capitol security footage from the day's attacks: two far-right propagandists with a very specific history of pushing the most extreme Republican-backed conspiracy claims. Apparently McCarthy likes to be humiliated on the national stage more than we thought he might; after the Tucker Carlson debacle, the man had to look long and hard to find even less credible figures.
We can only assume McCarthy has a humiliation fetish, in fact, because there's very little else that would explain why he landed on these two crackpots to carry Tucker's work forward. A thin chance remains that there's some other political machinations at work here, and that's because the mere fact it was Greene who was first to announce the news suggests that she might have pushed these names forward in her own role as the dominant House conspiracy crank. She might consider the depths of the far right's conspiracy bowels to be a very good place indeed to look for people still willing to claim that the attacks that injured 140 police officers and significant damage to the Capitol were "meek" and "orderly." There's certainly nobody above Solomon or Kelly champing to take on the role.
Did Greene walk into McCarthy's office and demand that the speaker repeat his disaster a second and third time as personal favor to her? Does she have blackmail material on the guy? Was this the price he had to pay for her vote to make him speaker? Or the price he has to pay to remain speaker? After all, the Freedom Caucus has him on a tight leash and he needs the conspiracy crank vote in his corner. McCarthy’s motives remain a mystery, but even today Greene is claiming that actually it was Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi who is responsible for the riot.
Gosh, what could be the motive behind Greene and McCarthy releasing the full Jan. 6 security footage only to far-right conspiracy cranks who believe that Democrats are secretly behind all Republican crimes? We've got a real Scooby-Doo mystery on our hands here.
Kevin McCarthy gave Tucker Carlson Jan. 6 footage. Carlson went big with his lies
McCarthy and team want to 'move on' from Carlson Jan. 6 debacle, but still rewrite Jan. 6 history
Capitol Police lawyer sounds very unhappy about how Tucker Carlson got Jan. 6 footage
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