It turns out that alleging the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol was a hoax doesn’t sit well with a lot of people.
Tucker Carlson this week debuted a trailer for his fantastical upcoming “documentary” that claims the insurrection was a “false flag” operation. The trailer has drawn the ire of politicians and media figures from both sides of the aisle. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) bashed Carlson after the trailer was released. So too did fellow Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera, who called the “false flag” claim “bullshit.”
He elaborated in an interview with The New York Times. “There are some things that you say that are more inflammatory and outrageous and uncorroborated,” he said. “And I worry that — and I’m probably going to get in trouble for this — but I’m wondering how much is done to provoke, rather than illuminate,” he said.
The Anti-Defamation League is also dismayed by the forthcoming film. The group wrote a letter to Fox News on Thursday expressing “deep alarm” at the film. “Let’s call this what it is: an abject, indisputable lie and a blatant attempt to rewrite history,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the league’s CEO and national director, wrote. “As an organization committed to fighting antisemitism and all forms of hate, we remain deeply concerned that the false narrative and wild conspiracy theories presented by Carlson will sow further division and has the potential to animate violence.”
Downey and Carlson both have a writing credit on Patriot Purge, the three-part documentary series set to air on Fox News streaming service Fox Nation, according to a screenshot the director tweeted on Wednesday. In a trailer for the film, which is set to premiere Monday with a “week-long” promotion on the network, a woman is shown saying that “false flags have happened in this country, one of which may have been January 6th.”
Before his latest project, Downey directed Hoaxed: Everything They Told You Is a Lie, a 2019 documentary produced by Michael Cernovich, an alt-right extremist who pushed the 2016 conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton and other Democratic politicians were running a child sex trafficking ring out of the basement of a D.C. pizzeria. That anti-Clinton fervor culminated in a man firing an assault weapon in the restaurant.
In 2020, Downey created a documentary with Lauren Southern, a Canadian alt-right activist. That film gave an alt-right interpretation of Black Lives Matter protests and violence in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police.
Patriot Purge isn’t the first time Carlson has surfaced the Jan. 6 “false flag” theory. In June, he suggested that the FBI was not charging some Capitol rioters because he claimed, without evidence, that “they were almost certainly working for the FBI.” The Fox host doubled down on the conspiracy theory days later when he wrote an op-ed that month with the headline “Tucker Carlson: FBI has a history of creating crimes.”
Rivera has had enough. “Messing around with Jan. 6 stuff … ” he added in his interview with the Times. “The record to me is pretty damn clear, that there was a riot that was incited and encouraged and unleashed by Donald Trump.”
Carlson hasn’t gone after the Fox News commentator, but he has attacked Cheney after she called out Carlson and the network for using their platform to “spread the same type of lies that provoked violence on Jan. 6.” Carlson said on Thursday that his show called Cheney’s office to ask her to make an appearance Thursday, and that she was a “coward” for declining.
An email screenshot tweeted by Cheney’s communications director, Jeremy Adler, showed the show only emailed the office, and that the office gave them a scathing reply. “Tucker has had countless opportunities to explain to his viewers that the election was not stolen,” he wrote. “Instead, he continues to promote dangerous conspiracy theories using the language that provoked violence against law enforcement and our Capitol on Jan. 6. Liz will not participate in that.”