Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson opened his program on Wednesday with a warning about how the Democratic Party and its allies in the media are writing the history of the January 6 so-called insurrection and using it to undermine their political opponents.
He argued that such an effort would have consequences, with which we should be prepared.
Transcript as follows:
CARLSON: On November 22, 1963, a man called Lee Harvey Oswald murdered the President of the United States. There are a lot of questions about what happened, but there was never any question about who Lee Harvey Oswald was. Oswald was a passionate and committed communist.
In 1959, he gave up his American passport and defected to the Soviet Union. There, he married a Russian woman and lived in Minsk. Three years later, he returned to this country and immediately began attending rallies in support of Fidel Castro, the Communist leader of Cuba.
In the fall of 1963, Oswald traveled to Mexico City and met with KGB agents there. A few months before, in Dallas, he tried to murder General Edwin Walker because Walker had given speeches attacking communism.
So, Lee Harvey Oswald never hid his politics not for a moment. He talked incessantly about communism to anyone who would listen. And yet, many Americans never really understood what Lee Harvey Oswald believed, and they didn’t understand it because news outlets didn’t tell them.
Instead, almost immediately, the media began spinning a very different story. President Kennedy, they suggested had been murdered by conservatives, possibly by conservatism itself, by hate, as they often put it.
The explanation was never very precise, but the idea was always the same: right-wingers killed Kennedy. The Soviet Union — naturally a suspect in this crime — was happy to agree with the assessment.
As the Soviet spokesman put it, moral responsibility for the Kennedy assassination lay squarely with, quote: “Barry Goldwater and other extremists on the right.”
In the end, the coordinated lying paid off. A year later, Senator Barry Goldwater lost to the incumbent Democrat Lyndon Johnson in a historically lopsided presidential election. By that point, many voters associated Goldwater with murder.
As the decades passed, the media kept repeating this lie. By the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, The New Yorker Magazine, was still blaming, quote, “anti-communism” for the fact that an avowed communist had murdered the President. Just because it’s absurd doesn’t mean they won’t say with a straight face, and they do.
By now, it’s likely that most Americans believe that’s exactly what happened and why wouldn’t they believe it? That’s what they’ve been told. That point is worth ruminating on and remembering.
History is a political tool. History is not simply a record of what happened. History is a way to shape the future. History is used to hurt some people and to help other people gain power. History is never neutral.
We’re watching our own history being written before us right now. Consider this clip. It is from MSNBC last night.
In this clip, famous historian Michael Beschloss compares what happened at the Capitol on January 6 to what happened to America on September 11.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, AMERICAN HISTORIAN: This was a President of the United States inciting an insurrection, a terrorist attack on Congress.
We observe 9/11. We remember the fact that there were attacks that landed, one that almost landed, which was an effort to fly an airplane into the Capitol Hill with a lot of Members of Congress. That almost happened.
Here is a terrorist attack that did happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So we observe 9/11, he says; going forward, we must observe January 6th. Maybe we’ll need a Memorial on the Mall.
As Beschloss has said repeatedly in the last 24 hours, and very pointedly, we must quote, “never forget.”
Now it’s true, it is pretty easy to make fun of Michael Beschloss. Beschloss is a historian in the same sense that 7-Eleven is a restaurant. Like a convenience store, Beschloss is everywhere. It could be three in the morning on a cold December night, and you could still pick up a pint of Michael Beschloss, if you needed one.
Just don’t consume too much of it. It’s not nutritious. And yet still, an awful lot of people eat this stuff, and that’s the point.
Michael Beschloss sells what is called popular history. It is the kind of history that sticks, and that’s just the history being assembled in print and on cable news, which at this point, and let’s be honest about it, are the media of choice for those of us who lived in a world before the internet, they are media for older people.
For Americans under 30, history is written exclusively on social media, and that’s where the real demagogues live. Tech platforms are the domain of people for whom factual reality is not even a consideration. It’s a completely different way of thinking.
Once you’ve decided that biology itself is not real, you are free from the conventional restraints of reality. At that point, what actually happened in a given place at a given time is totally and completely irrelevant. Ideology is all that matters.
Sandy Cortez is a master of this medium of course. Watch her description of the events of January 6th broadcast to kids across the country on Instagram.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I jumped into my bathroom and I closed the door. And I just keep hearing, bang, bang, bang.
I opened the door, when all of a sudden I hear that whoever was trying to get inside, got into my office, and I just hear, “Where is she? Where is she?” And this was the moment where I thought everything was over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So we played clips like that for you before and we’ve always made fun of them. There she is, again, defender of the common man yammering on about the only subjects he really cares about — herself. Wallowing around in Lake Me like it’s interesting to anyone, but her — narcissism on parade, the perfect symbol of a culture dying from self-involvement.
We said that before and we have laughed as we did. But actually, it’s not funny. People will believe this crap, some already do. Anyone who was physically present at the Capitol that day knows it’s ridiculous. There were no rioters in Sandy Cortez’s hallway. Trump voters weren’t trying to kill her, neither were other U.S. senators.
A lot of the rioters were angry at Mitch McConnell than they were at any Democrat. To some extent, what you saw on January 6th was an intra-party struggle. Not all of it, but some of it. An act of mindless destruction aimed at Republican leaders, borne of long simmering frustration.
The people who run the Republican Party don’t care about the people who elect them. That has long been true, Republican voters finally figured it out. It’s one of the main things they learned during the Trump years, and on January 6, they exploded.
Lindsey Graham was likely in graver danger than Sandy Cortez or Ilhan Omar. They were literally calling poor Mike Pence’s name. He didn’t do anything. They were furious with him.
Now, that’s not a defense of anyone’s behavior, much less defense of rioting, which unlike the other channels, we do not support and will never support. It’s not even an ideological point. It’s just true. That’s what happened.
But at this point, the truth doesn’t matter. What matters is, who gets to write the history of what happens? Who gets to define what the truth is? They’re the ones who will control the future. That’s why they’re doing it. There’s a reason that within hours, Democrats began describing the riot as a racial attack.
It was confusing to hear that at first, if you watched it and knew what happened, we were completely confused. Awful as it was, there was nothing racial about what happened that day. Claiming otherwise is absurd. It’s a fantasy. It’s a lie.
But no one pushed back against that lie, so they kept repeating it. Now, weeks later, it is the accepted version of what happened. Powerful lawmakers just say it from the House floor like it is fact, like it’s been proven in some objective inquiry and everyone knows it’s true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): America has been through a Civil War, World Wars, a Great Depression, pandemics, McCarthyism, and now, a Trumpist and white nationalist insurrection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: White nationalist insurrection. Again, it was awful, it was not that. But you’ve got to ask yourself, why are they claiming that it was that? Think about it? You know the answer. Everyone knows the answer.
Yet, almost everyone is too cowardly at this point to say it out loud, and the answer is this. They’re saying that, despite the fact they know it isn’t true so they can lump you in with the people who broke into the Capitol and punish you for crimes you did not commit and never supported.
If what happened on January 6 was a riot and it was, then we can arrest the rioters and punish them and we should. If what happened on January 6 was an insurrection, however, if it was a failed revolution, an attempted coup, then it’s something else entirely. If it’s that, then we need a military response. We need a new war against our own population and not surprisingly, that’s exactly what they are calling for.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ROBERT GRENIER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Even at the seeming height of the crisis immediately after 9/11, there really weren’t that many members of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and the thrust of our campaign there was yes, to hunt down al-Qaeda, but primarily to remove the supportive environment in which they were able to flourish, and that meant fighting the Taliban. And I think that is the heart of what we need to deal with here.
Hunting down people who are — who are criminals.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
CARLSON: “Hunt them down like al-Qaeda.” And to be completely clear, we’re not overstating this. We are not hysterical, we are just close listeners.
By them, he means Americans who were nowhere near the Capitol on January 6, had no role in what happened that day, and didn’t support it.
That’s the assessment from a former CIA official who spent years hunting al-Qaeda in the Middle East. No one in Washington appears to think this kind of talk is alarming in a formerly peaceful Republic like ours.
Just today, Senator Mitch McConnell, the leader sent out a tweet blasting Vladimir Putin for some misdeed or other. In the U.S. Senate, Russia is still the real threat, not quite as upset about China somehow.
But what McConnell didn’t mention and almost never does are his own voters, the ones now being reclassified as al-Qaeda terrorists and treated accordingly.
On Monday, The Washington Examiner which claims to be a right of center publication, whatever that means at this point, ran a piece by a former CIA officer called Kevin Carroll. According to Kevin Carroll, quote, “We saw five dead in the January 6 attempted coup d’etat.” Now Carroll didn’t explain who exactly those five people were, or how exactly they died. It would be nice to know that, but facts were not the point.
The point was that this was an attempted coup d’etat, and the U.S. government needs to act accordingly. Again, we’re quoting here, quote: “We defeated al-Qaeda and can do the same thing to the fascist thugs who attacked our democracy last month, but only if we take similar hard measures against the enemy within.”
“Treating Americans like al-Qaeda, the enemy within,” apparently that’s the new conservative position on the riots of January 6, and why wouldn’t it be the position of everyone in this country? Because that’s the history they are writing and we’re letting them, but we should be prepared for the consequences of that history.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor