The Multiple Falsehoods of ‘Patriot Purge’

Tucker Carlson's "Patriot Purge" miniseries uses deceptive tactics and false statements to rewrite history.

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At the start of November 2021, Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired the first episode of his new miniseries, “Patriot Purge,” on the network’s online streaming service Fox Nation. The three-episode series makes a number of false claims regarding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and misleads viewers with the conspiratorial idea that the attack was staged by the federal government.

Below are some of the most misleading aspects of the “Patriot Purge.”

Are Millions of Trump-Supporters Being Stripped of Their Rights? No. 

One of the main arguments in “Patriot Purge” is that the Biden administration views the millions of American citizens who supported former U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2020 election as domestic terrorists. In the first episode of this miniseries, Carlson claims that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is being used a “pretense to strip millions of Americans” of their constitutional rights and “frame them as domestic terrorists.” 

Carlson says: “The very same corrupt interests in Washington that pushed the Iraq War under false pretenses are now pushing the lie of a domestic white terror. They are tying white nationalist terrorism to Trump voters. They’re tying Jan. 6 to 9/11. They’re tying millions of law abiding Americans to al-Qaida and ISIS. Jan. 6 is being used as a pretext to strip millions of Americans — disfavored Americans — of their core constitutional rights, and to defame them as domestic terrorists.”

This simply is not not true.

The federal investigation into the attack on the Capitol does not target millions of Trump supporters. The investigation focuses on those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, as well as those who played a part in organizing the event. To date, the government has arrested about 690 people for their involvement in the attack.

It should also be noted that those who have been arrested have not been stripped of any constitutional rights. Those arrested for storming the Capitol, like all people accused of a crime, will go through the normal legal process before they are found guilty (or not guilty) and sentenced. You can see exactly who has been arrested for their participation in this attack, what they were arrested for, and all related documents to their case here.

Are Trump Supporters Being Held at Guantanamo Bay? No.

One of the recurring themes of Tucker Carlson’s “The Patriot Purge” is that the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol are being mistreated by the federal government. One of the most outlandish claims comes in the third episode of the series when Joseph McBride, a defense attorney for one of people involved in the Capitol riot, says that people on the “right” are being hunted, dragged to Washington, D.C., and stuck in Guantanamo Bay.

“The left is hunting the right … Hunting them across the country, dragging them to D.C. in the middle of the night, sticking them in the Gulag, sticking them in Guantanamo Bay, where American Citizens, leaving them there to rot.”

Nobody who attacked the U.S. Capitol was brought to Guantanamo bay. Nobody has been brought to “the Gulag.” In fact, the vast majority of the people who were arrested for their participation in the Jan. 6th attack have been released from custody pending their trial.

“Patriot Purge” also claims that the Capitol rioters are being subjected to conditions similar to those at Guantanamo Bay. One way they do this is by showing images of waterboarding and other methods of torture while talking about these recently arrested individuals.  This is a gross exaggeration that does not reflect reality. 

The Capitol rioters are not being water boarded or tortured. They also aren’t being illegally detained and, as noted above, the vast majority have already been released. 

Some people who were detained have truly complained about the conditions. While a judge has dismissed some of those complaints, saying that the detainees wanted “hotel conditions” while in prison, they did trigger a review of the detention facilities in D.C. While the review found that one facility fell short of federal standards, resulting in the transfer of 400 prisoners, those involved in the Capitol riot were being held at a different facility and were not impacted by this review. 

Did Mark Ibrahim Lose His Job Simply Because He Was Near the Capitol? No.

One of the goals of the “Patriot Purge” is to paint those who stormed the Capitol in a sympathetic light. When Mark Ibrahim appears on screen, for example, he is presented as a police officer who was forced from his job for the simple act of protesting.

Carlson says: “DEA agent Mark Ibrahim was forced from his job and later indicted simply because he was near the Capitol protest on Jan. 6.”

This, like so many things in this series, is simply false.

Ibrahim was not “forced from his job,” and wasn’t indicted “simply because he was near the Capitol.” According to court documents, Ibrahim put in his notice to leave his job with the DEA prior to the protest and was considered a probationary employee at the time of the rally. Furthermore, he wasn’t just “near” the Capitol. While he did not enter the Capitol building, he was indicted for being in restricted areas on the Capitol grounds and climbing up on a statue. Ibrahim was also accused of carrying a gun, improperly displaying his badge, and lying about his weapon to federal agents. 

Ibrahim also claimed that he only went to the Capitol at the insistence of an FBI informant, but this, too, is disputed. When the Justice Department interviewed Ibrahim’s friend, who was not named in the documents, they got a different explanation for Ibrahim’s appearance at the Capitol. According to the friend, Ibrahim, who posted several photos and videos of himself during the riot, was hoping to launch a podcast and cigar brand:

According to the friend, IBRAHIM crafted this story about how his friend was at the Capitol to assist the FBI and that IBRAHIM was there helping him. IBRAHIM’s friend told your affiant that he was not there in any formal capacity for the FBI and that the FBI was not giving him directions or marching orders. He said that IBRAHIM crafted this story in an effort to “cover his ass.” According to IBRAHIM’s friend, IBRAHIM went to the rally in order to promote himself—IBRAHIM had been thinking about his next move after leaving the DEA and wanted the protests to be his stage for launching a “Liberty Tavern” political podcast and cigar brand.

Homeland Security Deemed Emily Grace Rainey a Dangerous Extremist for Playing with Her Son? No. 

Another clear example of how Carlson misleads his audience during these episodes comes during episode two when we meet Emily Grace Rainey.  Before showing a clip of Rainey playing with her son, Carlson warns the audience that they are about to see “videos the pentagon and the department of homeland security consider dangerous extremism.”

Carlson says: “We want to warn you that what you are about to see may be distressing. You’re looking at videos the pentagon and the department of homeland security consider dangerous extremism. A mother, playing with her young son at a park, in violation of government COVID restrictions.”

The video that Carlson shows has nothing to do with Homeland Security, the Pentagon, or dangerous extremism. The video, which shows Rainey and her son playing at a park, deals with an incident that took place months before the attack on the Capitol and involves a dispute with local officials.

In May 2020, when many public areas were closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rainey filmed herself taking down caution tape at a playground and playing with her son. The local North Carolina outlet The Pilot reported:

Those two came together last week when a Southern Pines woman, frustrated with the ongoing restrictions, was charged with injury to personal property on Friday after tearing down caution tape and playing with her son at the Downtown Park playground.

An 80-second video that Emily Grace Rainey recorded as she pulled tape off of the park’s main play structure was posted to the “Reopen NC” Facebook group shortly after the incident. It included the hashtag #standyourplayground.

This was not labeled an act of “dangerous extremism” by the Pentagon. It was labeled an act of personal property destruction by a small town in North Carolina. For what it’s worth, then-U.S. President Donald Trump was in office at the time of the incident.  

Months after this incident took place, Rainey attended the “Stop the Steal” rally at the Capitol. There’s no evidence that Rainey stormed the Capitol. As such, she was never arrested for this act.

However, Rainey is a member of the military and her superiors are investigating her behavior to see if it violated any military rules. A spokesperson for Fort Bragg said: “It is unclear if she violated any laws or regulations, as the DoD encourages members of the Armed Forces to carry out the obligation of citizenship, so long as their actions are in keeping with DoD policy and do not impair the good order and discipline of the service.”

Rainey was not deemed a dangerous extremist by the Pentagon for playing on a playground with her son. Rainey may have violated military protocols by attending the rally but that has yet to be determined. 

Sources:

“Accused January 6 Rioters Complain About Conditions in DC Jail | Washingtonian (DC).” Washingtonian, 12 Aug. 2021, https://www.washingtonian.com/2021/08/12/accused-january-6-rioters-complain-about-conditions-in-dc-jail/.

Capitol Breach Cases. 4 Feb. 2021, https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/capitol-breach-cases.

Cleary, Tom. “Emily Rainey: North Carolina Army Captain Led Group to U.S. Capitol Rally.” Heavy.Com, 11 Jan. 2021, https://heavy.com/news/emily-rainey/.

Folkenflik, David, and Tom Dreisbach. “‘Off the Rails’: New Tucker Carlson Project for Fox Embraces Conspiracy Theories.” NPR, 3 Nov. 2021. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2021/11/03/1051607945/tucker-carlson-fox-news-insurrection-conspiracy-new-show.

Gerstein, Josh. “Feds Transfer 400 Prisoners from Main D.C. Jail Due to Conditions.” POLITICO, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/02/feds-transfer-prisoners-dc-jail-518604. Accessed 4 Nov. 2021.

“Opinion | Why Was No One Listening to Complaints about D.C. Jail Conditions until Jan. 6 Defendants Raised the Alarm?” Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/21/why-was-no-one-listening-complaints-about-dc-jail-conditions-until-jan-6-defendants-raised-alarm/. Accessed 4 Nov. 2021.

Pulver, Dinah, et al. January 6 Capitol Riot Arrests. https://www.usatoday.com/storytelling/capitol-riot-mob-arrests/. Accessed 4 Nov. 2021.

Rabinowitz, Hannah, and Holmes Lybrand. “Capitol Rioter with Cancer Ordered Released from Jail after Surprise Inspection Found Unsafe Conditions.” CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/03/politics/jan-6-rioter-released-unsafe-jail-conditions/index.html. Accessed 4 Nov. 2021.

“Revealed: Majority of People Charged in Capitol Attack Aren’t in Jail.” The Guardian, 28 May 2021, http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/28/us-capitol-attack-suspects-jail-trial.

Sorokopud, Maxim. “Capitol Insurrectionists Are Not Being Illegally Detained Or Tortured.” Misbar, https://misbar.com/en/factcheck/2021/07/02/americans-are-not-being-held-in-a-d-c-version-of-gtmo. Accessed 4 Nov. 2021.

Mary Kate Murphy. “Mom Barred from Southern Pines Parks After Violating Governor’s Order.” The Pilot Newspaper, https://www.thepilot.com/coronavirus/mom-barred-from-southern-pines-parks-after-violating-governors-order/article_5a147d88-9f6e-11ea-a76e-3373843a0541.html. Accessed 4 Nov. 2021.