National Review plays defense for J6 Committee, attacks Tucker Carlson

I know, I know; National Review is still the outfit that published the infamous "Against Trump" issue as a last-ditch effort to foil the successful 2016 candidacy that led to four years of peace, prosperity, low inflation, and disproportionate gains for the lower end of the income scale under President Trump.  But still, it comes as a bit of a shock that the publication I must credit for opening my eyes to the virtues of conservatism seems to be throwing in with Adam Schiff, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and the rest of the J6 kangaroo court crowd that censored thousands of hours of Capitol surveillance footage in an online article titled "Tucker Carlson's January 6 Revisionist History."

The article, written by Noah Rothman, who recently joined NR after years at NeverTrump Commentary, summarizes Carlson's charges about what the footage reveals, only to summarily debunk it:

The previously unseen footage, Carlson said, "from inside the Capitol overturns the story you've heard about January 6." It "does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress," he added. Rather, the footage is of revelers who "revere the Capitol." The trespassers were "peaceful," "ordinary," and "meek." If you have internalized some other perception of the day's events, that's only because you're so easily manipulated. "By controlling the images that you were allowed to view from January 6, they controlled how the public understood that day," Carlson declared. "They could lie about that day, and you would never know the difference."

This monumental allegation is not supported by the facts Carlson presented. The footage of that day's events confirms from discrete angles an account of events already well established by media outlets and congressional investigatory bodies.  If that account is unfamiliar to Fox viewers, that says more about the network and its priorities than the news outlets and institutions Carlson set out to indict.

There is no hint that NR is bothered by the suppression of video evidence denied to defendants in trials for the J6 incident.  Why, there's plenty enough already available.

For those with the requisite curiosity, ProPublica produced an impressive interactive database of footage of the Capitol riot that allows users to bounce in real time from events inside the Capitol to the Capitol steps and around the complex. Most of those videos were culled from posts provided by users of the pro-Trump social-media website Parler, which suggests the conspiracy to hide these videos from the public was spectacularly inept.

Those videos show hours of vicious hand-to-hand combat outside the building, the officers' crowd-control efforts inside the building, and, yes, even the rare moments of relative placidity in areas like Statuary Hall and the Capitol Rotunda. Again, you can watch the footage for yourself (which the January 6 committee played) to determine just how reverential the demonstrators, some of whom called repeatedly for the hanging of American elected officials even in those moments of relative calm, really were.

Carlson did not deny that some demonstrators were violent and unruly, contending only that many were not, as the newly seen videos document.  Should all of the defendants, including those who peacefully strolled through the Capitol after being waved in through open doors, be treated as violent insurrectionists, so threatening to the Republic that fundamental constitutional rights to a speedy trial and access to exculpatory evidence be denied?  The article is silent on this point, and apparently untroubled.  The fate of people held in solitary confinement under severe conditions without trial for over two years is of no concern, one gathers.

The article chastises Carlson for using the word "murder," which "has a legal context," to describe the killing of Ashli Babbitt when she was climbing through a broken window, unarmed, and too small in stature to conceivably pose a physical threat to the scandal-plagued Capitol Police officer who shot her.

The snide treatment of Tucker's analysis of Ray Epps may be the most offensive part of the article.  Note the scare quotes and use of "conspiratorial" to dismiss without evidence.

Carlson went on to allege that a "mysterious" Arizona man named Ray Epps egged on some of the protesters to invade the Capitol and later boasted that he "orchestrated" the protests, and that he "lied" in testimony to the January 6 committee about the time at which he left the demonstrations. The video evidence Carlson provided purports to prove that. Carlson alleges that Democratic members of the committee "defended" Epps, though that, too, does not appear in transcripts of committee proceedings. A spokesman for the committee did, however, note that Epps testified in interviews with the committee that he was not "working with or acting at the direction of any law-enforcement agency." The implication is clear: Maybe Epps lied about that, too.

Epps features prominently in conspiratorial accounts of the day's events, the authors of which finger him as an undercover FBI agent responsible for instigating the attack. It defies logic to suggest that, if Epps was an FBI plant who instigated protesters into becoming rioters, he could have commanded the thousands who engaged in criminal misconduct.

It is profoundly unfortunate that it requires this much exposition to dispute spurious allegations that can be articulated in the space of a single sentence. Carlson's narrative has had the intended effect on its audience — from former president Donald Trump on down to state-level Republican party chairs. But those who are "just asking questions" about January 6 don't seem much interested in the answers they're soliciting. That is an act of political malpractice.

How is it not "mysterious" that a man captured on video urging people to attack the Capitol has not been taken into custody?

Attempting to appear balanced, the article concedes that the doctored video footage attempting to impugn Senator Hawley as cowardly was correctly criticized by Tucker — but with no criticism of the J6 Committee for doing so, dismissing the perfidy as "partisans being partisans."

Carlson touched on some legitimate avenues of critique — like the committee's decision to feature Senator Josh Hawley running from protesters, as though he was the only member of Congress fleeing for his life. It was a cheap shot, just like the committee's decision to feature General Mike Flynn taking advantage of his Fifth Amendment privileges when asked if he believes in "the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America." Like most under questioning who take advantage of that right, Flynn likely declined to answer every question he was asked similarly so as not to invalidate that right. But Carlson doesn't seem satisfied to accuse political partisans of behaving like political partisans. They must be willful conspirators themselves.

According to National Review, we should really trust those who limited our access to evidence of what happened that day, accept coerced pleas of guilty by people who had been abused by being held in solitary confinement and represented by public defenders with little time or inclination to fight for acquittals, and simply not ask too many questions.  

To my mind, this is even worse than "Against Trump."

Hat tip: Ed Lasky.

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