New York CNN  — 

The face of Fox News is doing everything in his power to sanitize the horrific violence the nation saw unfold in real-time at the U.S. Capitol in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

And on Monday night, he had a major assist from Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who granted him exclusive access to tens of thousands of hours of January 6 security camera footage.

After continuing to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election (“it is clear the 2020 election was a grave betrayal of American democracy”), Tucker Carlson used the footage on Monday night to portray those who broke into the U.S. Capitol as mostly peaceful patriots who simply felt wronged by the system. Carlson, who falsely claimed the footage provided “conclusive” evidence proving Democrats “lied” about the events of January 6, aired footage showing some people taking selfies and meandering through the U.S. Capitol.

“Taken as a whole the video record does not support the claim that January 6th was an insurrection,” Carlson claimed. “In fact, it demolishes that claim.”

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The whole episode said more about McCarthy than it did Carlson. In effect, McCarthy served as Carlson’s reluctant, but obedient, accomplice, providing Carlson the ink in the Fox News conspiracy theorist’s quest to rewrite the events of the day in which the country’s citadel of democracy was assaulted. Those events were inspired by the very same election denying rhetoric the right-wing talk channel that pays Carlson’s handsome multi-million salary gave platform to in the wake of the 2020 contest.

McCarthy, of course, knew precisely what he was doing when he handed over the footage to Carlson while denying it to actual news organizations. Carlson has been one of the loudest, most obnoxious media figures denying the reality of January 6. He routinely mocks the notion that an insurrection took place and has even given platform to the fringe idea the assault could have been a “false flag” attack staged by the federal government — something Carlson continued to fan the flames of on Monday.

Ideas like those were once considered to be extreme, confined to the outskirts of right-wing media where shameless charlatans like Alex Jones spin fantasies for their audiences. But now it’s available every night at 8pm for millions to watch, courtesy of the highest-rated cable channel — and, more importantly, the Republican Party’s de-facto kingmaker.

If McCarthy is good at one thing, it’s reading the political tea leaves. His behavior offers crucial insight into the current power dynamics of the GOP. So when McCarthy bows and grovels at the feet of Carlson, it is worth paying close attention.

McCarthy, like the rest of his flock in Congress, knows that Carlson is the real boss inside the Republican Party. GOP lawmakers not only want to remain on Carlson’s good side, but they certainly do not want to receive a prime time lashing on his program, which is appointment television for the party’s base. And we’ve seen they’ll do nearly anything to stay in his good graces. (See Sen. Ted Cruz pleading Carlson for forgiveness last year.)

Perhaps, McCarthy believes that playing ball with the Fox News extremist will curry favor with him and put an end to the brutal attacks Carlson has leveled at McCarthy over the last few years. And it appears to have worked for the moment, with Carlson on Monday night offering some praise for McCarthy.

But the result of the House speaker’s actions will undoubtedly be a muddying of the waters on a key and defining moment in American history, reigniting the far-right’s information war on the truth in hopes of cleansing its actions in the lead up to January 6.