By Julie Kelly
Ever since Axios reported that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) gave Fox News host Tucker Carlson unfettered access to surveillance video captured by Capitol security cameras on January 6, 2021, the corporate media has experienced a collective convulsion bordering on a nervous breakdown.
Guardians of the fourth estate long ago abandoned their self-proclaimed role as watchdog over those in power in exchange for the role of lapdog. But apparently the last ones to get the joke are reporters, editors, and cable news hosts themselves, who still operate under the delusion they maintain a vaunted place in the pecking order of American society rather than rank in popularity just below the toxic sludge smoldering in East Palestine, Ohio.
Not long ago—or maybe it has been a long time?—journalists would salivate at the chance to report on the contents of a massive trove of footage related to what the government calls a terror attack, especially if the same government pulled every trick in the book to keep it under wraps. Compelled by slavish idolatry of the state and contempt for the common man, the media, for lack of a better term, is acting as if the release of unseen video recorded on January 6 is a crime in progress.
This comes, mind you, after two full years of uncritically repeating every talking point about the so-called “insurrection” which involves calling it an “insurrection” even though no one has been charged with “insurrection.” No cop cried too unconvincingly, no lawmaker made too outlandish a claim, no occupant of the White House told one too many lies to jolt the slumbering curiosity, or even innate sense of skepticism, of corporate media apparatchiks.
“Breaking news” bulletins sought to grab the attention of their shrinking audience before airing a cherry-picked clip gleaned from the very collection of tapes now considered sacrosanct.
It’s hard to know where to begin in the January 6 Hall of Hypocrisy, but let’s start with an easy target: Washington Post political columnist Philip Bump. Shortly after Donald Trump won the 2016 election, the Post famously changed its motto to “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
Since January 6, few newspapers have devoted more column inches to the four-hour disturbance that only temporarily delayed the certification of the 2020 election. A three-part series published in October 2021 provided a novel-sized exploration into what happened before, during, and after the protest. Proceedings of the January 6 select committee earned nonstop coverage including reposting, you guessed it, clips of surveillance video played by the committee to an international audience.
Bump now bristles at the thought of fair play. “We should have no confidence that Tucker Carlson will do anything but use the video to which he’s been given access for anything other than promoting his own narrative,” Bump sneered in a February 21 column. “It’s not just that Carlson cannot be relied upon to actually consider the video in an objective way, though he certainly can’t be. It’s also that there is no reason to think that he will present the video in context, to include information that moderates what’s being shown on the screen.”
Darkness, it appears, is not a threat to democracy if it pertains to a blackout of taxpayer-paid recordings that might lay bare the biggest political scandal in U.S. history.
Over at MSNBC, Rachel Maddow fretted that Fox News will “use this government material to concoct an alternative narrative to give us some more convenient revisionist history about what happened on January 6.”
Not to be outdone, Maddow’s MSNBC colleague Joy Reid warned that Republicans could “twist the footage” to help “criminals get out of jail.” This from the same network that infamously reported the 2020 riots were “mostly peaceful” as property burned behind a reporter.