Media Outlets Sue for January 6 Video Given to Fox News

April 12, 2023

Nine national media organizations filed a lawsuit Wednesday to obtain access to the 44,000 hours of CCTV surveillance footage of the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) gave to Fox News.

Among the media outlets who’ve joined in the lawsuit are CNN, the Associated Press, the New York Times, ProPublica and CBS.

The joint coalition is not suing the House of Representatives or Speaker McCarthy directly. Instead, they are seeking access to the tapes through the federal public records law by which the Department of Justice is covered, but Congress is not.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It requests “declaratory, injunctive, and other appropriate relief…pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act,” or FOIA.

It goes on to say, “In February 2023, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives provided approximately 44,000 hours of these videos (the “Capitol Surveillance Videos”) to a single cable television program, Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, and, on information and belief, the Speaker’s Office has refused to provide the Capitol Surveillance Videos to any other news organization or journalist who has since sought access.”

The U.S. Capitol police had sought to keep some of the surveillance video from the public prior to McCarthy’s bestowal upon Fox News. Last month McCarthy’s office said it was considering ways to make the tens of thousands of hours of video more widely available. 

However, the media coalition’s lawsuit asserts that McCarthy has yet to provide even a timeline for when that access might be given.

So far, prosecutors have brought criminal charges against more than 1,000 people following the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol amid an attempt to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 President Election victory of Joe Biden. Four people died during the insurrection, and five police officers died of various causes following the attack.

In November Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed veteran career prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel to determine, among his duties, whether criminal charges should be filed against former President Trump for his actions related to January 6.

Photo credit: Tyler Merbler

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