When Democrats were in control of Congress, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) spent months calling for the unqualified release of thousands of hours of Jan. 6 security camera footage.
“The DOJ should just release the over 14,000 hours of surveillance video that the tax payers already payed [sic] for instead of creating a controlled view of Jan 6 that cost $6.1 million taxpayer dollars,” Greene tweeted in July 2021, a few months after the attack. “Then everyone can see what happened. What is there to hide?”
“If we really want to know the truth about Jan. 6, it’s real easy. All we have to do is release the video footage, and everyone can see for themselves what exactly happened,” the congresswoman said on the House floor last June.
But now that Republicans have given Fox News star Tucker Carlson exclusive access to the tapes, Greene has changed her tune from her old mantra of “release the tapes” ― see, for example, here, here, here and here ― to something else.
Greene was reportedly involved in House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) decision to allow Carlson exclusive access to the footage, and she now says it would be “foolish” to release certain parts publicly.
“We can’t give away our national security,” Greene told CNN. “Everyone in Congress agrees. And I think the American people agree. We don’t want Russia or China or any of these other countries being able to study all the entries and exits of our Capitol. That’s foolish.”
That’s the same argument congressional Democrats have made about McCarthy handing the tapes to Carlson. Greene evidently trusts that the often inflammatory host will responsibly handle the videos.
Greene’s shift is even more notable given the large group of news outlets that recently called for access to the footage, expressing concern that “an ideologically-based narrative of an already polarizing event will take hold in the public consciousness.” CNN did note that the congresswoman said McCarthy’s office is working, in the report’s words, to release the footage “more widely, beyond Fox News.” But Greene didn’t explain further, and McCarthy’s office didn’t return HuffPost’s request for comment.
Calls to release the tapes have been a central piece of the effort to discredit the work of the congressional Jan. 6 committee. Derrick Evans, a former West Virginia state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to a felony charge for his role in the Jan. 6 breach and has since announced a congressional campaign, told HuffPost in December that congressional Republicans “need to have their own Jan. 6 investigation where they actually go and seek out the truth, where they demand 14,000 hours of video footage from the Capitol to be released, not only to the public, but to the Jan. 6 defendants, as they’re constitutionally required to do.”
On the right, Pillow magnate and election conspiracy theory bankroller Mike Lindell has threatened to sue for access to the footage, Rolling Stone reported, and Newsmax’s Eric Bolling implored, “Speaker McCarthy, my inbox is wide open. … We’d love to get our hands on that.”
Carlson has pushed conspiracy theories that the Jan. 6 attack ― which has so far led to hundreds of arrests and successful prosecutions on serious charges including seditious conspiracy ― was in fact a setup aimed at goading Trump supporters into breaking the law.
The Fox News star, who was recently revealed to have called Donald Trump “demonic” in private, has repeatedly accused the federal government of using the prosecution of Jan. 6 rioters and seditionists as cover for an ideological “purge” of conservatives, and he’s given a platform to fringe voices who assert the attack was actually a potential “false flag” seeded by anti-fascists or law enforcement provocateurs.
That position angered even some Fox News personalities such as Geraldo Rivera, who called “bullshit” on Carlson’s coverage of the conspiracy theories.
Greene and others including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) have paid special attention to Ray Epps, a former member of the Oath Keepers militia group who on Jan. 5 urged others to “go into the Capitol,” making him the cornerstone of a right-wing theory that Epps was a federal agent of some kind. Epps, in an interview with the Jan. 6 committee, denied this and said he truly believed Trump was the victim of a stolen election.
Ironically, Epps told the committee that he too believed the right-wing conspiracy theory that anti-fascists had “hijacked” the Jan. 6 gathering Trump had summoned to D.C. for their own purposes.
Carlson, for his part, has already hinted at the supposedly narrative-changing report he has in store for the surveillance camera footage. Last week, he said his “smartest” producers had been reviewing the footage for a week, “looking at this stuff and trying to figure out what it means, and how it contradicts, or not, the story that we’ve been told for more than two years. We think, already, that in some ways, it does contradict that story.”