Ben Shapiro: What we weren’t shown about Jan. 6

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Jan. 6 was, according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer explained that the riot of Jan. 6 was a “violent insurrection.” And in order to preserve democracy, Schumer stated, Fox News should take Tucker Carlson off the air.

What, pray tell, did Carlson do that merited the Senate Majority Leader calling for his silencing? After House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., granted him access to some 41,000 hours of as-yet-unreleased footage from Jan. 6, he aired a special in which he disclosed two particularly pertinent pieces of tape: first, tape showing Capitol Police apparently walking alongside the QAnon Shaman, Jacob Chansley, through the hallways; second, tape showing Officer Brian Sicknick gesturing animatedly to fellow officers after he had already been attacked by the crowd outside.

Carlson seemed to downplay the violence of the day based on the tape. He said, “A small percentage of them were hooligans. But the overwhelming majority weren’t. They were peaceful. They were orderly and meek. These were not insurrectionists — they were sightseers.”

Now, to be certain, a riot took place on Jan. 6. In that riot, dozens of officers were injured; some 1,000 people were arrested. But Carlson isn’t wrong that tape appears to show some of the people in the Capitol wandering around aimlessly, not violently, or that the media’s original portrayal of Sicknick’s death — it was widely reported that he had been directly murdered by the crowd — was incorrect.

Argue with Carlson’s framing all you want; I have significant disagreements with it. But it is clear that Jan. 6, as ugly as it was, was a riot and not a “danger to our democracy”; that many of those in the Capitol were in fact gawking rather than rioting; and that the Jan. 6 committee went out of its way to present certain footage but avoid other footage. A decision was made by the Jan. 6 committee and the media to avoid the possibility of any nuance whatsoever regarding the riots. Instead, the only acceptable narrative determined that a riot was an insurrection, that insurrection threatened the overthrow of the United States, and that the insurrection continues to percolate throughout conservative circles. Any mitigating evidence to that overblown narrative was discarded.

Supposedly, the best way to ensure that narrative was to ensure silence. But Schumer’s call to silence Carlson is precisely the reason Carlson’s report went viral in the first place. The media-Democratic complex keeps exaggerating narratives, eliding any countervailing information, and then seeking to censor those who present such information; they keep burying evidentiary landmines hoping they won’t be triggered. Then the landmines bow up, and they’re shocked at the explosion.

We couldn’t be given the footage, according to our media and political elites, lest we draw the wrong conclusions. Herein lies the problem: the best way to avoid the American people drawing the wrong conclusions is to present them with the full evidence, and then let them draw their own conclusions. And that’s precisely what the elites in our media and the Democratic Party won’t allow.

Ben Shapiro, 38, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and co-founder of Daily Wire+. He is a three-time New York Times bestselling author; his latest book is The Authoritarian Moment: How The Left Weaponized America’s Institutions Against Dissent.

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