Last week, Fox News' Tucker Carlson made a frequently cited claim used to defend the perpetrators of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol: that none of them were carrying guns. "Just to be clear on terms, an insurrection is when people with guns try to overthrow the government," said Carlson. "Not a single person in the crowd on January 6 was found to be carrying a firearm. Not one."
But on Monday, writing for the fact-checking outfit PolitiFact, Samantha Putterman demolished this claim, giving it a rating of False.
"That’s wrong. Court documents, video evidence and news coverage directly contradict this characterization. Several rioters had firearms and dozens more wielded knives, bats and other real and makeshift weapons," wrote Putterman. "We reached out to Carlson for comment but did not hear back."
Among the rioters armed with guns were Lonnie Leroy Coffman of Alabama, who was found with multiple firearms as well as Molotov cocktails; Guy Reffitt of Texas, who was convicted on firearms charges after his own son turned him in as a Capitol rioter; and Christopher Michael Alberts of Maryland, who was arrested at the Capitol after officers noticed he was carrying a loaded handgun.
"It’s also important to note that an insurrection is a violent uprising against the government, and the definition of 'armed' is not legally limited to guns; it refers to any weapon used for defense or offense and as a means of protection," noted the fact-check. "Other items used as weapons on Jan. 6 included bats, crutches, flagpoles, skateboards, fire extinguishers and chemical sprays."
Carlson has spent months trying to downplay the significance of the attack on the Capitol, even painting the rioters as sympathetic figures. The criticism of Fox News airing this content has redoubled amid the network refusing to carry the House hearings on the main channel.