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How Carlson Lied To Whitewash Oath Keepers’ Armed Conspiracy


Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has repeatedly hosted alleged Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell, who was charged on January 13 with seditious conspiracy alongside Oath Keeper leader Stewart Rhodes and nine others in connection to the anti-government militia’s plot to violently overthrow the government on January 6, 2021. Carlson has interviewed Caldwell on both his Fox News show and his Fox Nation show. With Carlson’s help, Caldwell and his wife cast themselves as victims of overzealous prosecution for the events of January 6.

In their discussions Carlson and his guests overlooked some key details while portraying Caldwell, who was first arrested and indicted for his January 6 actions shortly after that day, merely as a “disabled veteran.

As noted in the indictment, Caldwell was stationed outside Washington, D.C., on January 5, standing ready to distribute weapons to his fellow militia members at the direction of Rhodes. He allegedly helped coordinate the Oath Keepers’ so-called “quick reaction force.” The indictment states that the militia had “amassed firearms on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., distributed them among ‘quick reaction force’ (‘QRF’) teams, and planned to use the firearms in support of their plot to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.”

The indictment alleges, “The QRF teams were prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington, D.C., in support of operations aimed at using force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power. The QRF teams were coordinated, in part, by Thomas Caldwell and Edward Vallejo.”

Rhodes indictment 1rhodes indictment

The indictment also notes that Caldwell did march to the Capitol on January 6, which has been documented in previous media reports. Some of Caldwell’s involvement coordinating the “QRF” was released in a court filing in December and was reported on by local DC outlet WUSA.

The government’s case claims Caldwell sought boats to assist the QRF, saying he wrote in a message that they could have “heavy weapons standing by, quickly load them and ferry them across the river to our waiting arms.” It also alleges that “on January 5, 2021, Caldwell and others drove into Washington, D.C., around the Capitol, and back to their hotel in Virginia” where the Oath Keepers had stockpiled weapons. The indictment says that “Caldwell described the trip as ‘recce,’ or a reconnaissance mission.”

In his repeated interviews of Caldwell and his wife Sharon, Carlson hasn’t painted the full picture of the facts as laid out by the government or of the grave implications had the events of January 6 turned out even slightly differently.

Carlson first mentioned Caldwell in his monologue on June 15. Noting the reporting about the quick reaction force, Carlson flatly stated that because Caldwell’s two co-conspirators were not indicted at the time, they were “almost certainly working for the FBI.” The idiotic logic is breathtaking even today:

The government's indictments further indicate that Caldwell -- who by the way is a 65-year-old man -- was led to believe there would be a "quick reaction force" also participating in January 6. That quick reaction force, Caldwell was told, would be led by someone called "Person Three" -- who had a hotel room and an accomplice.
But wait. Here’s the interesting thing. "Person Two" and "Person Three" were organizers of the riot. The government knows who they are, but the government has not charged them. Why is that? You know why. They were almost certainly working for the FBI. So FBI operatives were organizing the attack on the Capitol on January 6, according to government documents. And those two are not alone.

As HuffPo’s Ryan Reilly has pointed out, court documents show that the person staying in a hotel room with Caldwell was his wife. In truth, Carlson was just ripping off a flimsy conspiracy theory from Darren Beattie, a frequent guest of his who has attended a white nationalist conference.

Caldwell first appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight on October 4, 2021. Carlson cited American Greatness blogger Julie Kelly’s coverage of Caldwell’s plight while introducing his guest. (At American Greatness, Kelly has repeatedly written about Caldwell in glowing terms. Just days ago she used Caldwell’s prior indictment as evidence that the federal government was behind the attack that day)

In the interview, Caldwell told Carlson the Oath Keepers “seem to be very nice people” but “I’m not part of that organization.” Carlson closed the segment by saying, “I hope you crush these people, and we’re going to follow your case, and I hope that you both will come back. It’s shocking this could happen in our country.”

Following that interview, right-wing figures like Kelly and New York Post columnist Miranda Devine raised money for Caldwell on social media.

Caldwell and his wife appeared again with Carlson on his Fox Nation show Tucker Carlson Today in November. During the 50-minute-long interview, Carlson described the circumstances of Caldwell’s arrest as “beyond belief” and said “there was no reason” for him to be arrested in the way he described. Carlson went so far as to ask that Caldwell publicly name the U.S. attorney prosecuting his case, which Caldwell declined to do. Carlson said, “I hope that he’s punished” for his handling of the case.

Carlson omitted key details from what the FBI found at Caldwell’s home that day. A February 2021 BuzzFeed News report says agents found “receipts for the purchase of ‘a concealed firearm intentionally built to look like a cell phone,’” live ammunition, and “a notepad with the legend ‘Death List,’ and below that the name of an elections official from another state, as well as a relative of that person.”

Prosecutors at the time also shared a text message from Caldwell about the plan, noted above, to ferry guns on January 6 into Washington, D.C., with boats. The judge in his case at the time found that Caldwell must be held in custody until his trial because he “represents not just a danger to the community but to the fabric of democracy.”

On Tucker Carlson Today, the eponymous host instead focused on whether Caldwell was an official member of the Oath Keepers, saying that “it is not a crime to belong to the Oath Keepers or any other organization in this country, no matter what Joe Biden thinks of it. Is that still true? I mean, you’re allowed to belong to any volunteer organization you want, right?”

Carlson asked Caldwell if he entered the Capitol building or did anything illegal; when Caldwell answered no, Carlson immediately took him at his word, saying that he “didn't get caught up in any of the illegal activities on that day, it doesn't sound like.”

In a 50-minute interview with someone indicted for their activities on January 6, that was essentially all the time Carlson spent trying to figure out what Caldwell did that day.

Carlson then proceeded to try to get Caldwell to endorse his Ray Epps conspiracy theory:

In that clip, Carlson goes on to suggest that there’s a federal government conspiracy because Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes had not (yet) been arrested.

The appearance was amplified by Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec.

In Caldwell’s third appearance with Carlson, on January 13, 2022, following the charges for seditious conspiracy, Carlson asked him about the text message and plans to ferry weapons across the Potomac. Caldwell denied that he had made those plans, and that exchange soon devolved into Carlson mockingly asking if Caldwell owned any howitzers. Most of the interview ended up just repeating the same notes – Caldwell denying he was in the Capitol building and talking about how much being prosecuted hurts his family.

Carlson didn’t mention why people may be skeptical of Caldwell’s denial: Messages made public by the Department of Justice show that Caldwell bragged to unnamed recipients about participating in the attack and that he told people to “storm the place and hang the traitors":

“Then we heard Pence f***** us. Wr [sic] had over a million oeople [sic] here. Then the lying media said Trump supporters were breaking through barricades so I said if we’re going to get blamed, might as well do it so I grabbed up my American flag and said let’s take the damn capitol,” Caldwell allegedly said. “So people started surging forward and climbing the scaffolding outside so I said lets storm the place and hang the traitors. Everybody thought that was a good idea so we did.”
“[W]e climbed the steps after breaking 2 rows of barricades, yhen [sic] got on the parapets and the people in front of me broke through the doors and started duking it out with the pigs who broke and ran,” Caldwell allegedly continued. “Then we started stealing the cops riot shields a d [sic] throwing fire extinguishers through windows. It was a great time.”

In addition to Carlson, One America News Network also hosted Caldwell for a friendly interview.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Many Thousands Saved, But Carlson Defames Vaccination Campaign As A 'Failure'

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

After spending the better part of a year discouraging viewers from getting vaccinated, Fox host Tucker Carlson took to the airwaves on November 29 to falsely claim that the U.S. has “achieved universal vaccination” and that continued high rates of coronavirus deaths mean the COVID-19 vaccination campaign is “the greatest public policy failure of all time.”


Carlson’s claim that the United States has “achieved universal vaccination” is categorically false. According to the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Tracker, 59.5 percent of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated as of November 28, with 70 percent of the population having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Experts and medical professionals have battled an onslaught of vaccine hesitancy that has been driven partly by Carlson and his colleagues at Fox.

Deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. continue to far outpace those of other nations, and that is largely driven by deaths among the unvaccinated. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19-related complications than vaccinated people.

Carlson’s claim that the campaign to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19, and thus prevent deaths, is a “failure” is a conclusion that can be reached only if you ignore every shred of relevant information and consider instead just the fictionalized vision of the vaccine that exists on Fox News. Carlson has dedicated an extraordinary amount of airtime not just to lying about and undercutting COVID-19 vaccination efforts, but also to attacking vaccines as a whole. To name just a few recent examples:

Even though Fox has its own incredibly strict vaccination and testing policy for staff, the Murdoch family that owns the network has given Carlson’s reality-averse coverage of the pandemic its full backing. Across the network, vaccine misinformation has run rampant, with Fox throwing the health and safety of its viewers under multiple buses in exchange for imaginary culture war points.

Carlson And Fox Go Anti-Vax Wacko With Conspiracy Theorist RFK Jr.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox host Tucker Carlson hosted anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for a fawning interview on his Fox Nation show Tucker Carlson Today. Kennedy is a well-known figure in anti-vaccine circles and one of the most prominent backers of baseless conspiracy theories attempting to link conditions such as autism to vaccines.

During the November 15 interview, Carlson urged viewers to purchase Kennedy's latest book, a screed accusing Dr. Anthony Fauci of intentionally bungling the pandemic, killing alternatives to the vaccine, and launching an assault on the First Amendment in order to silence critics. Kennedy walked Carlson's audience through a grab bag of his most notorious conspiracy theories, at one point asserting his belief that vaccines had to be one of the "key suspects" behind the rise in cases of autism.


Kennedy suggested that more than 17,000 Americans have died from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, a claim based on a misuse and misunderstanding of U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System data that Carlson has repeated on his prime-time show.


Misinformer, Meet Liar: Correcting Maria Bartiromo’s Latest Trump Interview

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

On March 16, Fox News Primetime and Fox's Maria Bartiromo hosted former President and Celebrity Apprentice host Donald Trump for a friendly interview full of the kind of lies and misinformation for which both interviewer and interviewee are known.

Bartiromo spent most of the interview lobbing softball questions and letting blatant lies go unchecked while the former president rattled off a series of lies and delusions. In several instances, Bartiromo herself was a source of false information.

Below is a list of some of the lies and distortions uncritically aired by Fox.

Trump's Phone Calls To Georgia Officials Conflated

Bartiromo misrepresented a correction issued by The Washington Post regarding a conversation between Trump and Georgia election investigator Frances Watson, asserting that the correction was in regard to the now-infamous conversation between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

The Post reported that Watson had a conversation with Trump in which the then-president pressured Watson to "find the fraud" and said she would become a "national hero" if she did so. The statements turned out to be false, meriting correction, yet Trump and right-wing media have used the error to excuse and vindicate Trump's behavior during the 2020 election and the aftermath.

As explained by Vox:

According to a newly surfaced recording of the call with Watson, Trump did not in fact use those exact words. He did say she could find "dishonesty" in Fulton County, and that "when the right answer comes out, you'll be praised." But the language of the quotes the Post attributed to Trump were not accurate. As a result, the Post had to run a prominent correction. Trump and conservatives are now scorning the paper, and even some mainstream reporters are looking askance and wondering how it happened.
The correction was merited — it's important for reporters (and their sources) to be careful in attributing exact language in quotes. And it is unfortunate that these incorrect quotes spread so widely.
...
However, Trump has used the correction to claim in a statement that "the original story was a Hoax, right from the very beginning," which is untrue. The original story that got so much attention was Trump's call with Raffensperger, for which we had the full and accurate transcript all along. It has not been corrected. Furthermore, it remains the case that Trump did in fact call Watson to insist he won the state and that she should turn up evidence revealing fraud. "The country is counting on it," he said.

More Lies About The 2020 Election

Trump stated that "our Supreme Court and our courts didn't have the courage to overturn elections that should have been overturned." Courage had nothing to do with it; in fact, of the 62 lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies in a desperate and embarrassing attempt to delay the inevitable, all but one were rejected.

The Supreme Court itself declined to take up two Trump-supported lawsuits over the election, rejecting a major one from Texas as lacking standing and saying all other pending motions were "moot."

Lies About Voting Bights Bill HR-1

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Trump echoed Fox News's drumbeat of misinformation around HR-1, or the For The People Act, which would expand voting rights and increase campaign finance transparency across the country. Trump echoed Fox's claim that the For The People Act is not constitutional, despite legal precedent and even though experts have affirmed that H.R. 1 is a constitutional exercise of Congress' power. In the interview, Baritomo gave Trump free reign to echo right-wing media attempts to falsely paint the legislation as a corrupt attempt to seize power from Republicans and state legislatures.

Lies About Immigration


Trump said immigrants coming through the southern border would "destroy our country if they don't do something about it." He also claimed that there was an influx of migrants arriving from the Middle East. The claim likely relates to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's recent statement that migrants at the border are "not just people from Mexico or Honduras or El Salvador. They're now finding people from Yemen, Iran, Turkey. People on the terrorist watch list they are catching, and they're rushing in all at once."

There is no concrete evidence backing this assertion. In fact, according to The Washington Post, Trump's own State Department debunked the claim:

The Trump administration first asserted this in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, offering a range of misleading statistics to buttress the claim that terrorists from the Middle East were filtering through the U.S.-Mexico border. But administration officials never offered any proof or identified a single terrorist.
In reports issued during the Trump administration, the State Department said that there was "no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States" and that "there have been no cases of terrorist groups exploiting these gaps to move operations through the region."

COVID-19 Vaccine


Trump claimed that he and his administration "came up with the vaccine, which is going to save the world." Of course, that's incorrect, and the COVID-19 vaccine went into development almost as soon as the coronovirus's genetic sequence was made public.

The claim also sits uncomfortably amid Fox News's reticence to encourage its viewers to actually get vaccinated. Hosts on the network are regularly sowing doubt and distrust in vaccinations, Tucker Carlson accused President Joe Biden of "vaccine coercion," and Laura Ingraham called Biden's COVID-19 relief speech "vaccine propaganda." The network is caught between indignation that Trump doesn't receive enough gratitude for the existence of the vaccine and assertions that the vaccine itself should not be trusted.

That being said, it is objectively good that Trump told his supporters to take the vaccine, especially given that others at Fox have been suggesting otherwise.

Far Right, Proud Boys Cheer Trump’s Call To ’Stand By’

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

During Tuesday's presidential debate, President Donald Trump was asked by Fox News anchor and moderator Chris Wallace to condemn white supremacist groups, and the president responded with a direct plea to the violent, neo-fascist "Proud Boys" gang, telling them to "stand back and stand by."

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