There is no way to avoid this moment. The formal letter of apology. From me. To Conservatives and to those who “put America first” everywhere.
It’s tempting to sweep this confrontation with my own gullibility under the rug — to “move on” without ever acknowledging that I was duped, and that as a result I made mistakes in judgement, and that these mistakes, multiplied by the tens of thousands and millions on the part of people just like me, hurt millions of other people like you all, in existential ways.
But that erasure of personal and public history would be wrong.
I owe you a full-throated apology.
I believed a farrago of lies. And, as a result of these lies, and my credulity — and the credulity of people similarly situated to me – many conservatives’ reputations are being tarnished, on false bases.
The proximate cause of this letter of apology is the airing, two nights ago, of excepts from tens of thousands of hours of security camera footage from the United States Capitol taken on Jan 6, 2021. The footage was released by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson [https://www.axios.com/2023/03/08/mccarthy-defends-jan-6-footage-tucker-carlson-fox-news].
While “fact-checkers” state that it is “misinformation” to claim that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was in charge of Capitol Police on that day [https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2021/07/27/fact-check-nancy-pelosi-isnt-in-charge-capitol-police/8082088002/], the fact is that the USCP is under the oversight of Congress, according to — the United States Capitol Police: [https://www.uscp.gov/the-department/oversight].
This would be the same Congress that convened the January 6 Committee subsequently, and that used millions of dollars in taxpayer money to turn that horrible day, and that tragic event, into a message point that would be used to tar a former President as a would-be terrorist, and to smear all Republicans, by association, as “insurrectionists,” or as insurrectionists’ sympathizers and fellow-travelers.
There is no way to unsee Officer Brian Sicknick, claimed by some Democrats in leadership and by most of the legacy media to have been killed by rioters at the Capitol that day, alive in at least one section of the newly released video. The USCP medical examiner states that this Officer died of “natural causes,” but also that he died “in the line of duty.” Whatever the truth of this confusing conclusion, and with all respect for and condolences to Officer Sicknick’s family, the circumstances of his death do matter to the public, as without his death having been caused by the events of Jan 6, the breach of the capitol, serious though it was, cannot be described as a “deadly insurrection.” [https://www.uscp.gov/media-center/press-releases/medical-examiner-finds-uscp-officer-brian-sicknick-died-natural-causes] Sadly, though the contrary was what was reported, Officer Sicknick died two days after Jan 6, from suffering two strokes. https://lawandcrime.com/u-s-capitol-siege/capitol-police-officer-brian-sicknick-died-of-natural-causes-after-suffering-two-strokes-day-after-jan-6-report/
There is no way for anyone thoughtful, even if he or she is a lifelong Democrat, not to notice that Sen Chuck Schumer did not say to the world that the footage that Mr Carlson aired was not real. Rather, he warned that it was “shameful” for Fox to allow us to see it. The Guardian characterized Mr Carlson’s and Fox News’ sin, weirdly, as “Over-Use” of Jan 6 footage. Isn’t the press supposed to want full transparency for all public interest events? [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2023/mar/07/biden-medicare-taxes-desantis-trump-2024-live-updates] How can you “over-use” real footage of events of national relevance?
Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate minority leader, did not say the video on Fox News was fake or doctored. He said, rather, that it was “a mistake” to depart from the views of the events held by the chief of the Capitol Police. This is a statement from McConnell about orthodoxy — not a statement about a specific truth or untruth. [https://www.c-span.org/video/?c5060662/senator-mcconnell-calls-tucker-carlsons-depiction-january-6-attack-mistake]
I don’t agree with Mr Carlson’s interpretation of the videos as depicting “mostly peaceful chaos.”[https://thehill.com/homenews/media/3887103-tucker-carlson-shows-the-first-of-his-jan-6-footage-calls-it-mostly-peaceful-chaos/] I do think it is a mistake to downplay how serious it is when a legislative institution suffers a security breach of any kind, however that came to be.
But you don’t have to agree with Mr Carlson’s interpretation of the videos, to believe, as I do, that he engaged in valuable journalism simply by airing the footage that was leaked to him.
And remember, by law that footage belongs to us — it is a public record, and all public records literally belong to the American people. “In a democracy, records belong to the people,” explains the National Archives. [https://www.archives.gov/publications/general-info-leaflets/1-about-archives.html]
You don’t have to agree with Carlson’s interpretation of the videos, to notice the latest hypocrisy by the Left. My acquaintance and personal hero Daniel Ellsberg was rightly lionized by the Left for having illegally leaked the Pentagon Papers. The New York Times was rightly applauded for having run this leaked material in 1971. [https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/1435/daniel-ellsberg].
I do not see how Mr Carlson’s airing of video material of national significance that the current government would prefer to keep hidden, or Fox News’ support for its disclosure to the public, is any different from that famous case of disclosure of inside information of public importance.
You don’t have to agree with Mr Carlson’s interpretation of the videos, to conclude that the Democrats in leadership, for their own part, have cherry-picked, hyped, spun, and in some ways appear to have lied about, aspects of January 6, turning a tragedy for the nation into a politicized talking point aimed at discrediting half of our electorate.
From the start, there have been things about the dominant, Democrats’ and legacy media’s, narrative of Jan 6, that seemed off, or contradictory, to me. (That does not mean I agree with the interpretation of these events in general on the right. Bear with me).
There is no way to un-hear the interview that Mr Carlson did with former Capitol police office Tarik Johnson, who said that he received no guidance when he called his superiors, terrified, as the Capitol was breached, to ask for direction. [https://www.foxnews.com/media/tucker-carlson-talks-exclusively-key-capitol-police-officer-ignored-by-jan-6-panel-amid-footage-release]
That situation is anomalous.
There is always a security chain of command in the Capitol, at the Rayburn Building, at the White House of course, and so on, which is part of a rock-solid “security plan.” [https://www.dhs.gov/news/2014/09/30/written-testimony-usss-director-house-committee-oversight-and-government-reform].
There are usually, indeed, multiple snipers standing on the steps of the Capitol, facing outward. I made note of this when I was researching and writing The End of America. There is never improvisation, or any confusion in security practices or in what is expected of “the security plan”, involving “principals” such as Members of Congress, or staff at the White House. I know this as a former political consultant and former White House spouse.
The reason for a tightly scripted chain of command and an absolutely ironclad security plan in these buildings, is so that security crises such as the events of Jan 6 can never happen.
The fact that so much confusion in security practice took place on Jan 6, is hard to understand.
There is no way to not see that among the violent and terrifying scenes of that day, as revealed by Mr Carlson, there were also scenes of officers with the United States Capitol Police accompanying one protester who would become iconic, the “Q-Anon Shaman”, Jacob Chansley – and escorting him peaceably through the hallways of our nation’s legislative center. [https://www.foxnews.com/media/former-lawyer-qanon-shaman-says-jan-6-footage-wasnt-shown-client-calls-prison-sentence-tragedy].
I was oddly unsurprised to see the “Q-Anon Shaman” being ushered through the hallways by Capitol Police; he was ready for the cameras in full makeup, horned fur hat, his tattooed chest bare (on a freezing day), and adorned in other highly cinematic regalia. I don’t know what Mr Chansley thought he was doing there that day, but so many subsequent legacy media images of the event put him so dramatically front and center — and the barbaric nature of his appearance was so illustrative of exactly the message that Democrats in leadership wished to send about the event — that I am not surprised to see that his path to the center of events was not blocked but was apparently facilitated by Capitol Police.
A point I have made over and over since 9/11 is that many events in history are both real and hyped. Many actors in historic events have their agendas, but are also at times used by other people with their own agendas, in ways of which the former are unaware. Terrorists and terrorism in the Bush era are one example. This issue was both real and hyped.
“Patriots” or “insurgents” (depending on who you are) entering the Capitol can be part of a real event that is also exploited or manipulated by others. We don’t know yet if this is the case in relation to the events of Jan 6, or to what extent it may be the case. That is where a real investigation must come in.
But as someone who has studied history, and the theatrics of history, for decades, I was not at all surprised to see, on Mr Carlson’s security camera footage, the person who was to became the most memorable ‘face’ of the ‘insurrection’ (or the riot, or the Capitol breach) — escorted to the beating heart of the action, where his image could be memorialized by a battery of cameras forever.