Mainstream Media Outlets File Lawsuit Over Jan. 6 Footage Released to Tucker Carlson

Mainstream Media Outlets File Lawsuit Over Jan. 6 Footage Released to Tucker Carlson
Protesters gather at the police line on the west side of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Special to The Epoch Times)
Jack Phillips

A group of news organizations filed a lawsuit Wednesday demanding access to surveillance footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach that was released to Tucker Carlson earlier this year.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) handed over more than 40,000 hours of surveillance footage to the Fox News host, who aired clips from the surveillance. The new video footage, Carlson said, raises significant questions about the official narrative around the Capitol breach.

The Associated Press, the New York Times, Advance Publications, CBS, Gannett, ProPublica, CNN, Scripps, and Politico signed onto the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asking (pdf) the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys’ administrative office to hand over the footage via an expedited Freedom of Information Act request.

They assert that federal officials haven’t produced the footage and now want a federal judge to intervene. They are seeking all closed-circuit camera footage captured on Jan. 6.

“The Speaker’s Office has since provided only a single cable television program access to the Capitol Surveillance Videos, while indicating that it plans eventually to release the videos in some manner to the press and public,” the lawsuit stated. “Plaintiffs have continued to press the Speaker’s Office for access to the videos as quickly as possible and on equal terms with other media requestors, only to be told that the Speaker’s Office will not even provide a timeline for when such access might begin,” it also said.

Lawyers for the media outlets said that federal officials have repeatedly denied the plaintiffs’ attempts to “diligently, cooperatively, and successfully pursued and obtained access to thousands of videos of the Capitol riot that have been used as evidence or otherwise become judicial records in more than a hundred cases in this District against those charged with organizing or participating in the riot.”

In their request for relief, the organizations asked a federal judge to declare that the Jan. 6 footage “are public and must be disclosed” and make them available for the plaintiffs without delay. “Plaintiffs further request that ... the Court issue an order enjoining the FBI from withholding the Capitol Surveillance Videos in full, directing the FBI to properly search for the records, and compelling their production,” it says.

During his show last month, Carlson claimed that Democrats and legacy news outlets “are lying” about what actually happened on Jan. 6.  The Fox Host said that footage appears to show Capitol Police officers escorting “Q Shaman” Jacob Chansley through the halls of the Capitol, even apparently opening locked doors for him.

Jacob Chansley outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)
Jacob Chansley outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

“The defenders of democracy are defending democracy again,” Carlson said last month. “They’re telling you it’s really, really dangerous. And anyone would get to see the thousands of hours of surveillance footage from January 6, which has been hidden from the public for two years as a tiny group of people gets to make up stories about what happened that day and change the country on the basis of those stories.”

Late last month, Chansley was moved to a halfway house in Phoenix, Arizona, according to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons official. His release came after Fox News aired the clip of him walking through the Capitol building.

A portion of the Jan. 6 footage showed Chansley entering the Senate chamber, where he and others were seen kneeling in prayer. Chansley said during the prayer that he thanked the Capitol Police officers for “letting us into the building.”

McCarthy’s move to release the footage to Fox News led to anger from Democrat lawmakers, who accused McCarthy of violating the security of the Capitol. The U.S. Capitol Police said it had reviewed just one clip that Carlson had aired on his popular nightly program on March 6.

“No,” McCarthy told reporters when asked if he regretted granting Carlson access to the tapes. “I said at the very beginning, transparency. And so what I wanted to produce for everybody is exactly what I said. The people could actually look at it and see what’s gone on that day.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) last month said that he believes that releasing the footage into the public domain is troubling and tantamount to an “egregious security breach.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also claimed McCarthy was “needlessly exposing the Capitol complex to one of the worst security risks since 9/11” with the move.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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