Prosecutors say Tucker Carlson omitted key Jan. 6 footage of ‘QAnon Shaman’
Federal prosecutors said footage that Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired last week of the “QAnon Shaman” during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol lacks context, according to newly filed court documents.
The Justice Department said the footage aired by Carlson, which showed rioter Jacob Chansley, who is better known in the media as the “QAnon Shaman,” walking in the Capitol unimpeded by a group of officers who followed him, only spanned four minutes out of about an hour he spent in the building.
“The televised footage lacks the context of what occurred before and after the footage. Chansley entered the building as part of a violent crowd,” prosecutors said.
Chansley, who gained attention for wearing face paint and a horned headdress during the riot, pleaded guilty to obstruction in 2021 and was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
Sunday’s filing, however, did not involve Chansley’s case. It instead responded to a motion by Dominic Pezzola, one of five Proud Boys leaders currently on trial for seditious conspiracy in connection with the riot, to dismiss his charges based on the footage.
“The televised footage shows Chansley’s movements only from approximately 2:56 p.m. to 3:00 p.m,” prosecutors said. “Prior to that time, Chansley had, amongst other acts, breached a police line at 2:09 p.m. with the mob, entered the Capitol less than one minute behind Pezzola during the initial breach of the building, and faced off with members of the U.S. Capitol Police for more than thirty minutes in front of the Senate Chamber doors while elected officials, including the Vice President of the United States, were fleeing from the chamber,”
“Chansley then entered the Senate Gallery, where he proceeded to scream obscenities while other rioters rifled through the desks of U.S. Senators on the floor below,” the filing continued. “All these actions were captured by Senate floor and/or CCTV cameras.”
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had granted Carlson access to a trove of around 44,000 hours of Capitol security footage from Jan. 6, and the Fox News host aired clips of the footage during his prime-time show last week as he argued the violence on Jan. 6 was “mostly peaceful chaos.”
Through a Fox News spokesperson, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Senior Executive Producer Justin Wells said, “Our team’s review of available surveillance footage of Mr. Chansley is consistent with our reporting.”
“For a period that afternoon, those defending the Capitol were in triage mode—trying to deal with the most violent element of those unlawfully present, holding those portions of the Capitol that had not yet been seized by rioters, and protecting those Members and staffers who were still trapped in the Capitol,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.
The defendants in the Proud Boys seditious conspiracy case — Pezzola, Enrique Tarrio, Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean and Zachary Rehl — were allegedly among the first to push past police barricades on Jan. 6.
In arguing for the dismissal, Pezzola’s lawyer said the footage aired on Carlson’s show was “plainly exculpatory,” because it established that the Senate chamber was “treated respectfully” by the rioters.
“To the extent protestors entered the chamber, they did so under the supervision of Capitol Police. The Senators on January 6 could have continued proceedings,” his attorney wrote.
Updated at 12:14 p.m.
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