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Monday, June 5, 2023
WND Tries To Make Tucker Carlson's Firing Another Ray Epps Conspiracy Theory
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Unsurprisingly, WorldNetDaily was unhappy that Fox News fired Tucker Carlson, a fellow right-wing cosnpiracy theorist. A month before Carlson's firing, for instance, WND was eagerly touting cherry-picked footage from the Capitol riot given to Carlson to push the false narrative that the riot was peaceful.

In an April 24 article about his departure, Bob Unruh gushed that "Always a leader in breaking the news, Carlson had interviewed President Trump multiple times and just finished airing a series of interviews with Elon Musk," conspiratorially adding that "multiple reports from left-wing media noted the departure comes just days after Fox reached a $700 million plus settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over the network's coverage of the 2020 election." That was followed by an article by Unruh citing right-wingers complining about Carlson's firing and a reprint of an article by the Daily Caller (which Carlson co-founded) touting Carlson's presidential prospects.

But WND needed someone to blame for Carlson's firing, and it tried to find one in an old scapegoat: Ray Epps the Capitol riot whom WND has insisted without evidence was a secret FBI agent whose job it was to provoke other rioters into committing crimes and violence. As it so happened, the day before Carlson was fired, "60 Minutes" did a segment on Epps that recapped the right-wing conspiracy theories falsely smearing him and highlighting the threats that have targeted him as those conspiracy theories spread in the right-wing media bubble.

Editor Joseph Farah spent his April 24 column ranting that Epps had called out Carlson for falsely targeting him, and even went so far as to call CBS interviewer Bill Whitaker a "hitman":

On Sunday night, "60 Minutes" whitewashed the shameless Jan. 6 provocateur Ray Epps. And Fox and Tucker Carlson coincidentally parted ways.

In case you missed "60 Minutes," it was surreal. The whole thing.


And who do they blame for the "confusion" surrounding Epps for the "Insurrection"?

Tucker Carlson. It took "60 Minutes" three years to try to explain this to the American people – and to try to blame Carlson for Ray Epps' insidious actions. Epps is portrayed as a tragic figure, even though he is always on the front lines of the Capitol, even the night before, encouraging protesters to go "inside the Capitol!"


Once again, he blamed it all on Tucker Carlson.

"He's obsessed with me," says Epps. "He's going to any means possible to destroy my life and our lives."

"Why?" Whitaker asks.

"To shift blame on somebody else," Epps suggests. "If you look at it, Fox News, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ted Cruz, Gaetz, they're all tellin' us before this thing that it was stolen. So you tell me, who has more impact on people, them or me?"

Instead of actually rebutting anything Epps said, Farah simply quoted from the interview.

Peter LaBarbera furthered the claim that Epps got Carlson fired in another April 24 article:

One day after the airing of a sympathetic CBS "60 Minutes" interview with controversial, videotaped, alleged Jan. 6 instigator Ray Epps — in which Epps played the victim and sought to shift blame for J6 violence to Tucker Carlson — the most popular host on Fox News was ousted by the network.

In the "60 Minutes" interview Sunday, Epps claimed Carlson is "obsessed with me," and said, "He's going to any means possible" to destroy his life to "shift blame [for J6] on somebody else."

LaBarbera complained that the "left-leaning" Los Angeles Times pointed out the right-wing conspriacy theory about Epps:

"Murdoch also was said to be concerned about Carlson’s coverage of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol," the Times reported. "The host has promoted the conspiracy theory that it was provoked by government agents, and Carlson has called Ray Epps — a Texas man who participated in the storming of the Capitol but did not enter the building — an FBI plant, without presenting any evidence."

That description by the left-leaning newspaper misses the salient point of why Epps and his non-arrest by the Justice Department have drawn so much attention on the right: he is shown so clearly on film doing more than other J6 attendees who were arrested and jailed for entering the Capitol.

Moreover, Gateway Pundit, which has been at the forefront of coverage on J6 issues, reported that Epps is wrong when he claimed (in congressional testimony) that he never violated the law on Jan 6. GP reports that while several J6 protesters were prosecuted for touching a large Trump sign that was thrown at police, Epps was not, although he also is allegedly shown on video touching the sign.

LaBarbera didn't give Gateway Pundit an ideological label, even though it's a far-right conspiracy rag that's currently being sued for spreading lies. He then repeated right-wingers manufacturing conspriacy theories about Epps' "60 Minutes" appearance:

Many conservatives saw the "60 Minutes" piece Sunday as only the latest effort by liberal elites to distract the public from the federal government's role in stoking the J6 "insurrection" narrative to disparage Trump supporters and undermine Trump's pursuit of another presidential term in 2024.

Conservative radio host Dan Bongino said "60 Minutes" was attempting to exonerate Epps to salvage the left's J6 narrative for the 2024 presidential election.


If the object of CBS' "60 Minutes" was to neutralize conservatives' suspicions of Ray Epps as some sort of federally aligned actor instigating criminal behavior on Jan. 6, their puff piece interview with him and his wife Sunday certainly did not achieve its objective.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., tweeted Monday, along with video of Cruz's Senate interrogation of the FBI official: "Ray Epps is the only person I’ve seen on video January 5th and January 6th urging and directing people to go into the Capitol. In a text message on January 6th he bragged that he orchestrated it. Why do democrats and the media portray him as the victim? So bizarre."

Twitter conservative Greg Price tweeted: "There’s also another thing: Ray Epps has never been arrested by the FBI despite them throwing everyone who was near the Capitol in solitary confinement and him being the only person on tape on J6 telling people to go into the building."

It wasn't until the 15th paragraph of his article that LaBarbera got around to noting that Epps' lawyers had sent a cease-and-desist letter to Carlson and Fox News, which sent him into Carlson defense mode:

"Mr. Carlson and Fox News have repeatedly peddled claims about Mr. Epps that lack any foundation in fact," states the letter by attorney Michael Teter. "Mr. Carlson and Fox News guests and contributors have incorrectly called Mr. Epps a federal agent, accusing him of acting as a provocateur of the riots. Oddly, Mr. Carlson now also espouses the view that those rioters were akin to peaceful tourists. This leads to the obvious question: is Mr. Carlson now accusing Mr. Epps of provoking peaceful protests."

Carlson consistently said on his Fox broadcasts that violent J6 protesters deserve to be prosecuted. His coverage alluded to disparagingly in Teter's letter concerned J6 video coverage unearthed by Carlson's team in March that exposed overzealous DOJ prosecution of the supposed J6 "ringleader," Jacob Chansley. The infamous horned "QAnon Shaman" was shown being led around peacefully by Capitol Police on Jan. 6, a spectacle at odds with the left's "violent insurrection" narrative. Weeks later, Chansley was released 14 months early from his federal prison sentence, after his lawyer objected to the government hiding the exculpatory video.

Teter's letter also says Carlson's on-air statements about Epps "have always been nonsensical fantasies disproven by videos and accounts by those attending the January 6th events. Selective and creative editing cannot overcome facts."

As we've noted, Carlson's footage of Chansley was cherry-picked and ignored his behavior before his arrest, and even his own attorney said Chansley's release from prison had nothing whatsoever to do with the video.

Farah used his April 25 column to rant that Carlson's firing was "election interference" -- even though Carlson isn't running for anything -- and again cited the "60 Minutes" story on Epps, "the one man safe from the Liz Cheney's House Unselect Committee of Jan. 6," as a contributing factor: "One would have to be blind or a Democrat not to see the fix was in."

A May 4 article by LaBarbera tried to drag Epps into the trial of several members of the Proud Boys over their actions regarding the riot, repeating claims by far-right writer Julie Kelly referencing "multiple sightings in evidence of the still-uncharged Ray Epps."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:21 PM EDT

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