Tag: tucker carlson
Tucker Carlson's 'Fatal Attraction' To The Kremlin Dictator

Tucker Carlson's 'Fatal Attraction' To The Kremlin Dictator

The title of my 2003 book, Useful Idiots, was a reference to a perhaps apocryphal quote sometimes attributed to Lenin to the effect that gullible liberals in the West would prove useful idiots for the Soviet Union. I wrote about Democrats. Twenty-one years later, the epithet belongs wholeheartedly to the GOP. Their choice to support Trump — Putin's biddable spaniel — for the party's nomination; their decision to sabotage aid to Ukraine; and Tucker Carlson's ring-kissing visit to the dictator's lair cements the status of Republicans as the useful idiots of the 21st century.

The party has turned its back on America's world role and very identity as a tent pole of global stability. Republicans are well down the path of handing Putin an historic victory in his war of conquest against Ukraine, and so dies the consensus in place since 1945 that aggression must never be rewarded. Think of what this will do to NATO, whose membership has expanded in response to Russian belligerence. Think of what it conveys to China about American resolve on Taiwan. Think of what it says to Iran, whose proxies have been firing at American forces and international shipping for three months. And consider what it conveys to friends who may rethink their relationships with a country so clearly unreliable. The Republicans, who imagine themselves "tough," are signaling the very opposite — cringing capitulation to a despot.

Tucker Carlson is not a useful idiot. The term implies naivete, but he seems to know exactly what he's doing. He claims to be in Moscow to interview Putin because the rest of the press refuses to do so. In fact, Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, was just one of many who have pointed out that major press organizations have repeatedly requested interviews and been rebuffed. Peskov explained that Carlson had been approved because "he has a position that differs from the rest of (Western media)." Yes, supine.

For the past several years, Carlson's project has been consonant with Putin's. Both seek to sow division in the United States. Both seek to flood the zone with shit so that people won't know what to believe or whom to trust.

Carlson played a leading role in spreading the big lie about the 2020 election and distorting the events of January 6. He's the one to whom Kevin McCarthy released thousands of hours of surveillance tape so that Carlson could then cherry pick a few anodyne frames and say to his millions of viewers (I'm paraphrasing) "See, a normal tourist visit."

Months later, in a display of his dominance over Republicans, Carlson forced Ted Cruz to grovel on the air for having called the Jan. 6 rioters "terrorists." Carlson has been one of the chief conduits for Russian disinformation in the United States, peddling lies such as the story that the U.S. government was involved in chemical and biological research labs in Ukraine. The truth is easy enough to find: The American bioweapons program was shut down in the 1960s, while Russia's bioweapons program probably still exists in secret. Not that Carlson investigates things.

His Fox News show was appointment viewing in Russia, where reruns were featured on state-controlled TV. After Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Congress dressed in army fatigues, Carlson was unmoved by the mien of the brave leader of a nation under unprovoked attack: "As far as we know, no one's ever addressed the United States Congress in a sweatshirt before." In another monologue, Carlson spouted the vilest Russian propaganda: "Zelenskyy himself is a very dark force. ... It is unmistakable. ... This man is a destroyer."

Just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he famously accused Democrats of trying to gin up hatred of Putin, asking "(W)hat is this really about? 'Why do I hate Putin so much?' Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him?"

Putin has, as Carlson knows full well, arrested more than 20,000 people for protesting the war. As for his cruel attack on Ukraine — for no reason other than Putin's appetite — it has claimed the lives of half a million soldiers (two-thirds of them Russian) and at least 10,000 Ukrainian civilians. Russian forces have deliberately targeted power plants, hospitals, and civilian apartments. Putin is a war criminal. The world knows this. Carlson knows it, too.

Carlson says he went to Moscow because he's a journalist. He isn't. He's a tool. Putin has kidnapped and jailed two real Americans journalists: the Wall Street Journal's Evan Gershkovich, who has been rotting in a Russian prison for 11 months, and Alsu Kurmasheva of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, who committed the crime of visiting her sick mother while being an American.

As of this writing, it seems Carlson got the interview he craved with Putin. Doubtless Trump will find it very interesting and urge his people to "take a look," which will be the signal for the rest of the GOP to agree that we've really been getting only half of the story, haven't we? And it's really Biden, not Putin, and not certainly not Trump, who's a threat to world peace.

What a catastrophic turn for a once great political party.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her new book, Hard Right: The GOP's Drift Toward Extremism, is available now.

Donald Trump

Trump Camp Suddenly Realizes 'Dictator' Platform Is A Political Fail (VIDEO)

As mainstream reporters hone in on Donald Trump's fascist fantasies for a second term, his campaign and allies are discovering that a dictatorship platform might not be a winning message next year.

The Trump campaign itself is responsible for this message they are beginning to see as problematic. As Trump kicked off his 2024 bid, the signature line he pushed at every rally was, "I am your retribution," stoking the image of a mighty strongman who would mete out justice on his own terms

The journey from that to Trump's admission this week of being a dictator "on day one" of a second term has been filled with rhetoric plucked out of the playbook of the Nazis and other fascist regimes. But Trump's cheeky “dictator” dodge, implying that he wouldn't be a dictator "except for on day one" has drawn renewed scrutiny from reporters and opposing candidates alike.

The Biden campaign's rapid response X (formerly Twitter) account has been feasting on the topic, tweeting out clips like this one from Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei.

Trump's wife, Melania, VandeHei says, is pushing for former Fox News host Tucker Carlson to be Trump's vice president. Stephen Miller, architect of Trump's Muslim ban, could be attorney general and has talked about implementing "detainment camps" and "mass deportation[s]." And Kash Patel, who has talked about using the "machinery of government" to target Trump's political enemies, could end up as CIA director, for instance, says VandeHei.

The Trump campaign and some of its allies are starting to pick up on the fact that the broad and pervasive push toward an authoritarian-style government might not be the best campaign theme. While "Fascism for All" has a ring to it, it's likely not a winner in a country where people can still cast meaningful votes for their leadership. The Washington Post writes:

[I]n recent days, the former president and his allies have been pushing back more forcefully on comments from historians, policy experts and political opponents that a second Trump term would be more extreme and autocratic than his first. Two Trump advisers, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk more candidly, said recent stories about his plans for a second term are not viewed as helpful for the general election.

Fox News' media reporter Howard Kurtz, for instance, suggested the coverage was a smear campaign, saying, "It's not that [Trump] shouldn't be held accountable for his own rhetoric and social-media posts, but I have never seen anything like this in my professional lifetime."

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson Scrapes Bottom In The Conspiracy Barrel (VIDEO)

Tucker Carlson, who is scrounging for attention in an increasingly fractured and competitive right-wing media ecosystem while seeking funders for his new media venture, revived a convicted con man’s ridiculous allegation that he had crack-fueled gay sex with a young Barack Obama in a podcast interview. Carlson also revealed that he plans to interview the man for his show on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

“In 2008, it became really clear that Barack Obama had been having sex with men and smoking crack,” Carlson told host Adam Carolla. He cited the story of Larry Sinclair, who alleged during the 2008 presidential campaign that he “personally engaged in sexual activity and personally used illegal drugs in November 1999” with Obama in the back of Sinclair’s limousine and at a Chicago hotel. (Sinclair further alleged that Obama had been having a gay affair with the choir director at his church, who was subsequently murdered “to keep the media from believing the claims” Sinclair made.)

“A guy came forward, Larry Sinclair, and said, I'll sign an affidavit. And he did. I'll take a lie detector. And he did. ‘I smoked crack with Barack Obama and had sex with him,’” Carlson explained.

Carlson said Sinclair’s claims were “obviously true” but “nobody reported it … because the Obama campaign said anyone who reports on this gets no access to the Obama campaign.”

Sinclair’s story did receive little attention at the time from credible news outlets, even as it was widely covered on WorldNetDaily, a conspiracy theory website famous for promoting the lies that Obama was not born in the United States and is a Muslim. But while Carlson portrays this as a conspiracy in which journalists passed on Sinclair’s story to preserve access to the Obama campaign, Ben Smith noted in a 2008 article on the saga for Politico that the “story has generally been ignored by the mainstream media, because he’s been unable to substantiate his allegations.”

Carlson said he found Sinclair’s story compelling because he passed a lie detector test and signed an affidavit. But as Smith and even WorldNetDailyreported, Sinclair actually failed his polygraph (he later alleged Obama adviser David Axelrod had paid $750,000 to rig the polygraph). As Smith pointed out, Sinclair also claimed to be “terminally ill” in another affidavit he signed in 2004 (he is apparently still alive nearly 20 years later).

Asked by Carolla if he actually believed Sinclair’s story, Carlson replied, “That definitely happened. Oh, for sure. I mean, I've talked to Larry Sinclair about it and — oh, definitely it happened.” He went on to say that “40 years ago,” Sinclair had been “in and out of prison,” so “he’s got a criminal record by definition” and a “record of deception.”

“But this story, if you listen to it in detail, is clearly true,” he said, adding, “I'm going to do an interview with him and you can hear it.”

In fact, while Carlson suggested Sinclair’s criminal record occurred decades before his claims about Obama, Smith reported that “public records and court filings reveal that he has a 27-year criminal record, with a specialty in crimes involving deceit,” including “forgery charges in two states, one of which drew Sinclair a 16-year jail sentence.” At the time Sinclair made his allegations, there was “an outstanding warrant for Sinclair’s arrest for forging an acquaintance’s signature and stealing her tax refunds” in 2001, and he had been “arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in South Carolina” the previous year.

Elsewhere in the interview, Carlson told Carolla that Democrats plan to win the 2024 election by assassinating Donald Trump and initiating a “hot war” with Russia.

The former Fox host has been living his best life since the right-wing network dropped him from his prime-time post in April — moderating a GOP presidential forum, hobnobbing with Eastern European autocrats, and standing up for Vladimir Putin.

He’s also founded a new company that will be “anchored by longer versions of the free videos that Carlson has been posting regularly on Twitter” and is seeking “hundreds of millions of dollars” from right-wing billionaires like Peter Thiel and Rebekah Mercer. Unfortunately for Carlson, he’s just Alex Jones in suit-and-tie without Fox’s support, his viewership has been low, and he’s largely fallen out of the day-to-day conversation.

The Carolla interview provides insight into the niche Carlson’s new company will occupy — his investors will be funding WorldNetDaily 2.0, an outlet that dives deep into the right-wing internet fever swamps and credulously repeats absurdities as unvarnished truth.

Of course, Carlson is a notorious liar exposed by the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit for his willingness to tell his viewers the opposite of what he says privately, so we’ll never know whether he actually believes anything he publishes.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Fox Anti-Vax Propagandists Declare War On New Covid-19 Shot

Fox Anti-Vax Propagandists Declare War On New Covid-19 Shot

Tucker Carlson may be gone from Fox News, but his former colleagues are still carrying on his war against the COVID-19 vaccines that have prevented millions of American deaths since they became widely available in 2021.

Fox’s propagandists responded to President Joe Biden’s Friday call for new funding for an updated vaccine booster that will be recommended for all Americans when it becomes available this fall by warning that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous and ineffective. Some even directly exhorted their viewers — generally seniors who are most vulnerable from COVID-19 — not to take the new booster.

“There's another shot that he's going to recommend all Americans take?” Jesse Watters, Carlson’s 8 p.m. replacement, asked Monday on Fox’s panel show, The Five. “This is another huge scam and no one is going to go along with another shot, especially if it's mandated.”

Several pharmaceutical companies are currently developing updated COVID-19 vaccines that are expected to provide increased protection from Eris, the variant currently dominant in the United States.

With COVID-19 cases on the upswing, Biden said Friday that he plans to ask Congress “for additional funding for a new vaccine” he would “tentatively” recommend “that everybody get.” The updated vaccine is expected in mid-September, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during her Monday briefing.

Fox hosts responded with ridicule and fury. Notably, several suggested that because the initial vaccines provided limited protection from infection from newer variants (even as they continued to provide strong protection from death or serious illness), people should be skeptical of the effectiveness of an updated shot specifically targeted to current strains. That’s a recipe for Fox’s viewers to once again put their health in danger by declining the shots.

Sean Hannity once garnered unearned credit from mainstream reporters over a tepid snippet about the vaccines. But since coming under fire from right-wing rivals and walking back even those remarks, he’s rarely missed an opportunity to demonstrate his vaccine skepticism.

“Straight ahead, COVID madness coming back,” he said, teasing a Monday night segment. “More draconian measures and a new vaccine that I'm sure they're going to tell you is absolutely safe. Like the last one? Straight ahead.”

After the break, he introduced Biden’s comments by saying, “Here we go again,” then asked Fox contributor Tomi Lahren, “Isn't this the same Joe Biden, same government that said that if you got the vaccine, that you'd never get COVID, you'd never transmit COVID and that were proven dead wrong? Isn't that the same government?”

Lahren replied that “if the Biden administration and leftists everywhere were that concerned about a new COVID strain, a new COVID variant, that southern border would be closed,” adding, “If the American people are ever dumb enough to fall for this again, we deserved to fail as a country. But I don't believe we are dumb enough to fall for it again. Not this time.”

Hannity went on to say that while he was not giving “medical advice,” he was “not listening to them” about the vaccines because “I don't believe a word they say. They've been proven wrong again and again and again.”

Likewise, while guest-hosting Fox’s prime-time “comedy” show Gutfeld!, Jimmy Faila argued that Biden’s call for a new shot was unnecessary because “unlike the Clintons, the virus wasn’t nearly as dangerous as we were told.”

“Now, I'll admit it's nice to see this White House making news for a drug besides cocaine,” Faila said. “But there's no need to discuss any drugs because the vaccines didn't stop transmission.”

Faila went on to express confusion about why politicians would say COVID-19 “would have been way worse” if they hadn’t been vaccinated, adding, “Like, you're saying it didn't work, OK? The government was wrong about every single thing they pushed on us during COVID, especially mask mandates, lockdowns, and vaccines.”

Fox could have responded to the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, which were developed under then-President Donald Trump and are remarkably effective in preventing serious COVID-19 cases (with rare side effects), by urging viewers to get the shots. But the network instead ran a multiyear campaign against the vaccines while relentlessly hyping ineffective drugs popular among right-wing influencers. Any moral responsibility its hosts felt for their audience was apparently overrun by their reflexive opposition to Biden and their recognition that antivax commentary was “great for ratings.”

These attacks on the vaccination campaign had deadly consequences. Polls routinely show the network’s viewers were less likely to say they were, or planned to get, vaccinated than people who get their news from other sources. One recent study found that “excess mortality was significantly higher for Republican voters than Democratic voters after COVID-19 vaccines were available to all adults, but not before."

But Fox is undeterred by the destructive impact of its vaccine coverage. The network is doing its best to inflame viewers as its extremist competitors baselessly fearmonger over the prospect of “new lockdowns” ahead of the 2024 election. And that means more of them are going to die.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.