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Friction is growing over a new wave of falsehoods by Fox News about Jan. 6

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Fury is growing over a new wave of false claims by Fox News tied to the deadly January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In a rare move, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell slammed a series by Fox News host Tucker Carlson that attempts to whitewash the violent siege.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MITCH MCCONNELL: It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that's completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.

CHANG: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy defended his decision to let Carlson access January 6 footage for the special and slammed McConnell for not raising alarms earlier. The series is expected to continue airing tonight. And NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales is here with more. Hey, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hi, there.

CHANG: So I understand that this rebuke, it started earlier today - right...

GRISALES: Yeah.

CHANG: ...With a seething statement from the Capitol police chief, Tom Manger, which he issued to his rank and file. What exactly did he say?

GRISALES: Yes, we obtained this statement where Manger listed out a series of falsehoods portrayed by Fox. He said Carlson pushed, quote, "outrageous and false" allegations that the officers here acted as tour guides; also said the program cherry-picked from calmer moments of tape to try and downplay the violence. And also it claimed that fallen officer Brian Sicknick, his death had nothing to do with the riot. But the department maintains that while his death was ruled caused by natural causes, it was linked to the riot. And Manger went on to tell his officers that they fought like hell on January 6 and risked their lives. And he said that TV commentary will not record the truth for history books, that the justice system will.

CHANG: Claudia, let me ask you, you covered the fallout of the January 6 attack. How does Carlson's version of what happened differ from what you learned in your reporting?

GRISALES: It's a very different version filled with falsehoods. And we should note Carlson had exclusive access to more than 40,000 hours of security footage through House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. And he thanked McCarthy for that access last night and accused the now-disbanded January 6 Select Committee of a cover-up, of a crime.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT")

TUCKER CARLSON: Whatever you think of Speaker Kevin McCarthy, he rectified that crime, and we are grateful that he did.

GRISALES: He also revisited old falsehoods tied to the attack, presenting basically this fantasy world of what actually happened here on January 6; for example, trying to say that protesters were in, quote, "peaceful chaos," which is obviously not true.

CHANG: Well, how are Democrats responding so far now?

GRISALES: Well, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had some very sharp words regarding this coverage.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHUCK SCHUMER: Last night, Fox News, with Speaker McCarthy as a willing, capable and powerful accomplice, aired one of the most shameful hours we have ever seen in the history - in the entire history - of cable television.

GRISALES: He went on to say that, quote, "they're liars," alluding to ongoing litigation regarding false claims the network has previously shared.

CHANG: I mean, this is quite a remarkable moment for McConnell - right? - like, to be speaking out against Fox and against access to footage that was given by the House Republican leader. What larger message do you think this sends for Republicans?

GRISALES: It really shows that the fracture for the Republican Party continues. McConnell, for example, has repeatedly slammed the attackers and the falsehoods that came along with the siege. But it shows that the peril that remains for the party - this is a losing position to relitigate January 6 to grow its ranks here and elsewhere.

CHANG: That is NPR's Claudia Grisales. Thank you, Claudia.

GRISALES: Thank you much.

(SOUNDBITE OF RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS SONG, "SCAR TISSUE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.