The ordeal of QAnon Shaman

I have watched Tucker Carlson’s reporting on the previously suppressed January 6 tapes over the past three evenings along with his reconstruction of events. Nauseated by the incessant palaver about the supposed “insurrection,” I can’t help but want to hear the full story. I support his efforts to redress the Democrat/media hysteria. Yet his account seems to me lacking in its own way.

Tucker condemns the riot that delayed the certification of the 2020 election by Congress, but that’s not the whole story. He argues that the protest was “mostly peaceful,” or “mostly peaceful chaos.”

We mocked CNN et al. when they took this precise tack on the George Floyd riots of 2020 in Minneapolis and elsewhere around the country. Tucker’s take on January 6 seems like a satirical echo of the media echo chamber, and yet he is serious.

This is what he had to say Monday evening, per Jacob Sullum’s Reason column:

“Hundreds and hundreds of people, possibly thousands,” entered the Capitol over the course of two hours that day, Carlson said. “The crowd was enormous. A small percentage of them were hooligans. They committed vandalism. You’ve seen their pictures again and again. But the overwhelming majority weren’t. They were peaceful. They were orderly and meek. These were not insurrectionists. They were sightseers.”

Sullum comments:

That gloss is misleading in a few ways. Carlson mentioned vandalism but not violence against police officers, which indisputably occurred even if it was not typical. His characterization of the Capitol invaders as “orderly” is hard to reconcile with his description of the scene as “mostly peaceful chaos.” The adjective meek likewise seems inapt for people who entered the Capitol without permission as Congress was ratifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, precisely because they objected to that ceremony, which they erroneously saw as confirming an illegitimate result.

Last night Tucker acknowledged and accepted the assessment that 114 police officers were injured during the mostly peaceful riot. He condemned the assaults on police officers. “Mostly peaceful” doesn’t quite cut it.

Sullum goes on to support Tucker’s own take on the “mostly peaceful” angle in a limited fashion: “[I]t is accurate to say the protesters who entered the Capitol were ‘mostly peaceful’ in the sense that their offenses generally were limited to entering the building and walking around it without permission.” His long column is worth reading in its entirety. It has a balance that is generally lacking.

Tucker homes in on the case of Jacob Chansley, the QAnon Shaman. He returned to the case last night with an interview of Albert Watkins, Chansley’s lawyer. I have posted video of the interview below. Tucker holds out the video he has broadcast as exculpatory and characterizes Chansley’s conviction as unjust.

Of what crime was Chansley convicted, by the way? I don’t think Tucker has mentioned it. That seems like a significant oversight when decrying the injustice of a conviction.

Chansley pleaded guilty to obstructing a congressional proceeding. It may be sufficient to say, as Andrew McCarthy does, that there is nothing exculpatory on the video clips that Tucker has broadcast. That might explain why the prosecutors did not turn over the video to Watkins. I don’t know. Tucker more or less assumes the conclusion that Chansley’s conviction was unjust based on video of Chansley inside the Capitol. I doubt it.

Tucker didn’t ask Watkins to explain the offense to which Chansley pleaded guilty. He didn’t ask what exculpatory or video evidence the prosecutors turned over. He didn’t ask on what basis Chansley pleaded guilty to the offense. He didn’t ask how the video exculpated Chansley.

Watkins gladly took up the proposition that the video Tucker has broadcast is exculpatory. Tucker didn’t ask if Chansley might now avail himself of a post-conviction remedy to vacate the conviction. Maybe it’s not too late.

Andrew McCarthy wrote this after the first installment of Tucker’s reconstruction of events:

The video we are now seeing does not establish anyone’s innocence. It does, however, bolster the conclusion that the Democrats’ political messaging about the day has been a duplicitous exercise in mythmaking. Is Tucker Carlson presenting a depiction of January 6 that is overly sympathetic to a violent mob? Probably so . . . but then, the Democrat-dominated January 6 committee put its thumb on the scale as it presented Götterdämmerung.

I think that judgment obtains and leaves Jacob Chansley where he belongs. At least I don’t hear any argument to the contrary in Tucker’s interview with Watkins.

As to the competing “narratives” of January 6 McCarthy also holds:

Neither version is accurate, as we already knew from having watched the televised goings-on in real time. What happened on January 6 was a riot. It was as surreal as the QAnon shaman’s getup. It was a disgrace. It has resulted in scores of worthy prosecutions. Though Donald Trump did not incite it in the strict criminal-law meaning of that term, it is an indelible, disqualifying stain on his record as president.

For the record, that was my judgment in real time on January 6 and I agree entirely with McCarthy’s assessment.

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