In an unusual broadside against a major conservative television star, the Biden administration on Wednesday directly criticized the Fox News host Tucker Carlson over his on-air portrayal of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol as a largely peaceful event, a depiction the White House deemed “false.”
“We agree with the chief of the Capitol Police and the wide range of bipartisan lawmakers who have condemned this false depiction of the unprecedented, violent attack on our Constitution and the rule of law — which cost police officers their lives,” a deputy White House press secretary, Andrew J. Bates, said in a statement.
“We also agree with what Fox News’s own attorneys and executives have now repeatedly stressed in multiple courts of law: that Tucker Carlson is not credible,” Mr. Bates added.
The latter part of the statement referred to revelations from the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News, which has led to the disclosure of extraordinary private communications among the network’s hosts and executives.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, repeated those remarks at a briefing with reporters on Wednesday and added that Mr. Carlson’s depiction of the violent events at the Capitol “is just shameful.”
On his Monday and Tuesday night broadcasts, Mr. Carlson aired a compilation of Capitol surveillance footage from Jan. 6 and downplayed the violence that occurred. He presented the footage as evidence that the attack was an “orderly and meek” gathering of sightseers who had good reason to doubt the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
Fox News did not immediately respond on Wednesday to a request for comment.
In a deposition released on Tuesday, an executive at Fox News Media, David Clark, who previously oversaw Fox News’s weekend programming, said he did not consider Mr. Carlson’s program — or the program hosted by Sean Hannity — to be a “credible source of news.”
And in a previous lawsuit, in which Fox News defended Mr. Carlson against an allegation of slander, the network’s lawyers argued that his program consisted of “hyperbolic opinion commentary” and described his on-air remarks as “loose, figurative or hyperbolic.” The suit was dismissed.
Aides to President Biden have privately lamented Fox News’s negative depiction of the president and his administration, but it is rare for a White House official to issue an on-the-record criticism of the network or one of its stars by name.
The chief of the Capitol Police, J. Thomas Manger, condemned Mr. Carlson’s programs this week as “offensive and misleading.” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate’s top Republican, said on Tuesday that “it was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.”
Other Republicans, however, have endorsed Mr. Carlson’s coverage: In a Twitter post, the House Republican Conference called his segment about Jan. 6 a “MUST WATCH.”
Mr. Carlson’s Monday show was the highest-rated program on all of cable TV, drawing nearly 3.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
Mr. Biden has tussled in the past at news conferences with Peter Doocy, a Fox News White House correspondent, but when the president did criticize Mr. Doocy personally using an epithet, it was caught by a live microphone; the president later called Mr. Doocy to clear the air.
Leave a Reply