Kevin McCarthy reportedly gave Tucker Carlson access to 40,000 hours of Jan. 6 security footage

Kevin McCarthy.
(Image credit: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has reportedly given Tucker Carlson, host of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight, exclusive access to the 41,000 hour-trove of security footage from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to both CNN and Axios.

The "highly unusual move" arrives after McCarthy "faced significant pressure from his right flank to relitigate the work of the House select committee" that investigated the Capitol riot, CNN notes. And Carlson, meanwhile, is among the probe's most outspoken, non-congressional critics, having repeatedly questioned the government's official account of what happened.

As Axios notes, the committee shared multiple excerpts from the footage at its multiple hearings in 2022. But Carlson has argued on his show as recently as January for the government to release the full cache.

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"[T]here was never any legitimate reason for this footage to remain secret," Carlson told Axios' Mike Allen. "If there was ever a question that's in the public's interest to know, it's what actually happened on January 6. By definition, this video will reveal it. It's impossible for me to understand why any honest person would be bothered by that."

Per CNN, several Republican lawmakers were hoping to comb through the security footage on their own, "likely to hunt for footage that supports their controversial claims." But by "giving the videos to Carlson, McCarthy is essentially outsourcing the task to right-wing media, at least for the moment."

Jan. 6 Committee member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) had some choice words for the speaker regarding the decision to fork over the film: "It's hard to overstate the potential security risks if this material were to be used irresponsibly," Thompson said in a statement. "If Speaker McCarthy has indeed granted Tucker Carlson — a Fox host who routinely spreads misinformation and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's poisonous propaganda — and his producers access to this sensitive footage, he owes the American people an explanation of why he has done so and what steps he has taken to address the significant security concerns at stake."

In 2021, Carlson produced Patriot Purge, a history-rewriting docuseries that claims to tell an alternate story of the riot and, per The Hill, features at least one source claiming the riot was a "false flag" operation.

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