▶ Watch Video: McCarthy hands over Capitol riot footage to Fox News

Washington — Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s staff was permitted to view but not record portions of some 41,000 hours of police videos documenting the events of Jan. 6, 2021, with the opportunity to request copies of some of the clips under an agreement reached with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office, according to the high-ranking Republican member of the committee that oversees the U.S. Capitol Police.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, who chairs a subcommittee of the House Committee on Administration, told CBS News that a screening station was set up for the Fox News team to view videos from the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The staffers were not allowed to record or remove any of the videos from the screening area, he said. 

The Fox News team “may request any particular clips they may need, then we’ll make sure there’s nothing sensitive, nothing classified, including escape routes,” Loudermilk said. “We don’t want al Qaeda to know certain things.”

Loudermilk said the clips requested by Fox News and cleared for release by his committee would eventually be made public and available to other media outlets, many of which have demanded equal access to the footage. Loudermilk said the timeframe for the release to Fox and the public remains unclear: “Hopefully sooner rather than later, but I think we’re talking about weeks to months.”

GOP Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia is seen outside a House Republican Steering Committee meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Though Loudermilk said the Administration Committee would have some oversight of the video release, he told CBS News the agreement with Fox News was reached by McCarthy before the committee was even organized earlier this year. “That came directly from the speaker’s office,” Loudermilk said.

Multiple House Republicans said the sharing of some of the massive trove of police videos with Fox News was discussed at a Tuesday morning meeting GOP lawmakers. Loudermilk said there was no noticeable protest or dissent from House Republicans at the Tuesday meeting about the video agreement with Fox News.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said that any videos that are eventually released are “obviously going to be scrutinized to make sure that you’re not exposing sensitive information.”

The unilateral arrangement between McCarthy and Fox News has drawn sharp criticism from House Democrats. In a letter to colleagues last week, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York wrote that “[e]xtreme MAGA Republicans in the House have provided tens of thousands of hours of sensitive Capitol security footage to a FOX News personality who regularly peddles in conspiracy theories and Pro-Putin rhetoric.”

A group of media organizations, including CBS News, wrote to congressional leaders last week arguing the footage made available to Fox should also be made available to other media groups.

“Without full public access to the complete historical record, there is concern that an ideologically-based narrative of an already polarizing event will take hold in the public consciousness, with destabilizing risks to the legitimacy of Congress, the Capitol Police, and the various federal investigations and prosecutions of January 6 crimes,” attorney Charles Tobin wrote on behalf of the outlets.