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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tucker Carlson

Screenshot from Fox News

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Spinning his way through an incoherent, headline-grabbing allegation that the U.S. intelligence community has been "spying" on him and releasing his emails to journalists in an effort to get his show cancelled, Tucker Carlson detailed this week how "the Biden administration" had big plans to take him down.

Conceding that he's been in contact with US-based Kremlin intermediaries while trying to secure an interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Carlson on Wednesday claimed the National Security Agency found out about that, captured his emails, and planned to leak them to journalists, "which they did." But why would anybody care that Carlson was trying to secure a Putin interview? In Carlson's telling, the government was going to try, "to paint me as a disloyal American," a Russian operative, "a stooge of the Kremlin, a traitor," for seeking the interview.

Carlson presented this as the central plank of the Biden administration's evil plan to undercut this career — to show the world that he was trying to land a Putin interview, which would be portrayed as being incredibly damaging.

Right, except in 2018 Carlson's colleague Chris Wallace landed a Putin interview and nobody thought it was scandalous. In fact, the network earned a rare Emmy nomination for the Q&A. That same year, Carlson's former colleague Megyn Kelly also scored a Putin interview, and again it was no big deal. Nobody accused her of a being a "disloyal American."

Ever since he made his entirely unsupported claim that the NSA targeted him specifically and has directly leaked his emails to reporters, Carlson has been trying to prop up the rickety tale, while soaking up the news attention. I doubt Carlson has any idea where he's taking this illogical story that still lacks any evidentiary support. He's just happy with the public notice, even if most staffers at his own network refuse to touch the soggy story.

Nothing about this caper makes sense, which is fitting since Carlson is a congenital liar. He refuses to provide any evidence that the emails were leaked, or name the so-called "journalists" who received the communications directly from the NSA. He claims to know which journalists have his emails (one of them called him to discuss it!), but he won't come forward with that information. And neither will the journalists themselves. Carlson suggests reporters across the Beltway were given his emails directly from the NSA, yet as this controversy spreads, every single one of those reporters is remaining silent for no apparent reason.

What are the odds?

Meanwhile, Carlson plays the martyrdom card to the hilt, portraying himself as a crusading journalist: "I think more ominously they are using information they gather to put leverage, to threaten opposition journalists, people who criticize the Biden administration. It's happening to me right now, and I think it's shocking. I don't think we should put up with it in a free country."

People who criticize the Biden administration are being threatened. Except none of them are. Carlson works for a network that frantically condemns every sentence President Joe Biden utters, which means the administration must be monitoring hundreds of Fox employees, right? But for some reason, the only person on the Fox News payroll being spied on is Tucker?

And if Biden had declared war on conservative journalists, why isn't Fox News championing Carlson's claims? To date, the network has been extraordinarily quiet regarding the dopey saga, choosing largely to ignore it. "Fox is right to tread carefully because its biggest star is a huge liar and has historically proven particularly dishonest in describing his own supposed persecution," noted Media Matters.

Here's the Keystone Kops chronology of events. In the spring, the Fox host turned to intermediaries to open lines of communication with the Kremlin regarding an interview request, which is a very strange thing to do. I guarantee you when Wallace and Kelly scored their Putin Q&A's they didn't do it by emailing shady figures in Putin's orbit. We can assume they did it by following traditional channels of communication via the State Department. Not surprisingly, Carlson likely ended up communicating with foreign agents close to Putin whom the NSA was monitoring. They probably knew they were being monitored, but never told Carlson his communications were being incidentally collected.

As for the dastardly leak? There's still no proof it happened, other than Carlson's untrustworthy word. He could easily provide evidence but he won't. And specifically, he won't provide proof that the emails were leaked to journalists directly by the NSA. That's key because it's possible Carlson's email pals — Putin's cronies — decided to share the contents of the emails with others inside the Beltway.

Note that when Carlson's producer this week filed a Freedom of Information request, he demanded "any call records, texts, or emails the NSA has obtained from journalist Tucker Carlson's cell phone or email," going back to January of 2019. But if Carlson only reached out to Kremlin intermediaries "this spring," and only for the purposes of trying to set up a Putin interview as the host claims, why is he looking for communications that may have been collected two years ago?

Or is there more to Carlson's Kremlin conversations than he's telling?

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, center, speaks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi behind him.

Photo by Kevin McCarthy (Public domain)

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

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