Fox Nation, the streaming service operated by Fox News, released the first part of a Tucker Carlson documentary that dubiously claims the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol was escalated with the involvement of the U.S. government.
The opening episode of the three-part series called “Patriot Purge” became available for viewing Monday, despite pushback from the Anti-Defamation League and reporting from Fox News’ Washington bureau that disputes the entire premise of Carlson’s program. Fox News ran trailers for the “Patriot Purge” calling it “The True Story Behind 1/6.”
Carlson, the top-rated Fox News personality known for his inflammatory commentary, said in the documentary that “federal agencies have a long history of ensnaring Americans in manufactured plots,” and the Jan. 6 event — which resulted in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol police officer — was a peaceful protest demanding “election integrity” until the crowds were provoked into committing violence.
There is no evidence of any such FBI involvement, a fact reported by journalists at Fox News.
While Fox News is known for giving its opinion hosts wide latitude in discussing issues, which sometimes crosses the line into misinformation, the Carlson documentary appears to be particularly egregious. A Fox News representative declined comment on the program.
The program goes on to say the incidents that occurred Jan. 6 are being used by law enforcement agencies to persecute former President Trump’s supporters, claiming “the left is hunting the right.”
The content in the documentary reflects the debunked conspiracy theory on the FBI being involved in the riots already presented by Carlson on his nightly Fox News program.
At Fox News, Carlson is given a wide berth to present his views. When defending a defamation lawsuit brought against the network last year, Fox News lawyers successfully argued that no “reasonable viewer” would take Carlson’s comments seriously.
On Friday, Fox News ran a segment on “Special Report with Bret Baier” reporting on the ongoing congressional investigation into the insurrection. It included an interview with Marc Polymeropoulos, a former veteran CIA officer who dismissed the notion that Jan. 6 was a “false flag” operation. The term has been used in a trailer promoting Carlson’s series.
“One of the things with false flag operations as well, is sometimes it’s used by conspiracy theorists to actually hide the truth,” Polymeropoulos said. “Pretty far-fetched, in no way was January 6th a false flag operation.”
Congress has been looking at evidence that former President Trump resisted calls on Jan. 6 from Republican lawmakers and his own advisors to implore the demonstrators to disperse and that his lawyer continued to urge Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election results as the insurrection was happening. Trump encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol in a speech that morning.
Even the trailer of Carlson’s program, which aired in prime time on Fox News, generated outrage among critics.
In a letter sent last week to Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of Fox News parent Fox Corp., Anti-Defamation League Chief Executive Jonathan Greenblatt called Carlson’s series “an abject, indisputable lie and blatant attempt to rewrite history” and asked that it not be shown.
Carlson’s program also received a rebuke last week from Fox News colleague Geraldo Rivera, who criticized it on Twitter and in an interview with the New York Times. “I’m probably going to get in trouble for this — but I’m wondering how much is done to provoke, rather than illuminate,” Rivera said in the interview.
Fox News did have Carlson promote the documentary series Monday on its morning program “Fox & Friends.”
“Patriot Purge” is produced and written by Carlson and the staff that puts together his nightly prime time program. There are no Fox News journalists involved with the production.
The program, which looks like a half-hour political ad with dozens of rapid-fire edits of news footage, is shown only on Fox Nation, a streaming service that Fox News Media has described as an “entertainment and lifestyle programming” service that appeals to conservative viewers with true crime shows and patriotically themed documentaries.
Fox Nation has more than 1 million subscribers who pay a monthly fee for the commercial-free service. The streaming platform is not subject to advertiser pressure, unlike Tucker Carlson’s prime time Fox News program, which has seen an exodus of major sponsors not wanting to be associated with his views.
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