Tucker v. Tucker
Tucker Carlson is the most watched political pundit on television. Carlson demeans immigrants, promotes white nationalist conspiracies, and defends Donald Trump. The pro-Trump commentary is especially important, because his audience is mostly Trump supporters. His 8 PM show routinely draws more than 3.5 million viewers.
On Tuesday night, we definitively learned Carlson's show is a sham. Carlson's texts to his colleagues at Fox News reveal that Carlson does not really believe the things he says on air. Instead, Carlson says whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear.
Carlson's texts were made public as part of a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News. Dominion's lawsuit alleges that Fox News, including Carlson, promoted false and damaging claims against Dominion that they knew were false. Through the discovery process, Dominion has obtained a trove of internal communications from Fox News employees. Some of these materials are now being made public as Dominion counters Fox News' efforts to dismiss the lawsuit.
Popular Information reviewed transcripts of Carlson's show in the weeks before and after the newly released texts. The comparison between what Carlson said to his colleagues in private and what he told his millions of viewers exposes Carlson as a fraud.
"I hate him passionately"
In a January 4, 2021 text to two members of his staff, Carlson said he "truly can’t wait" for Trump to leave office because "I hate him passionately."
After the riots at the U.S. Capitol, Carlson's private contempt for Trump intensified. In a January 7, 2021 text to his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, Carlson called Trump a "demonic force" and "a destroyer." But Carlson told Pfieffer that Trump was "not going to destroy us." Pfieffer said the key was to avoid Trump's "anger spiral." Carlson agreed, adding "we can do this."
"This" apparently meant concealing his real views about Trump and pandering to his audience. On the January 7 edition of his program, Carlson trashed people who harbored "hatred" of Trump, saying they were "socially anxious white professionals" who loathe the working-class.
And by the way, it is not just Republican leaders who feel this way, it's our entire leadership class. It is everyone in charge. You rarely hear it spoken out loud, but this is the truth: a very specific form of intra-white loathing at the core of the reaction to Donald Trump.
Here is what it is: nothing is more repulsive to socially anxious white professionals than working class people who look like them. Proles are their single greatest fear; they remind them of where they may have come from, or where they could be going if things turn south.
So, if you want to understand the hatred, the real hatred, not just disagreement, but gut-level loathing and fear of Trump, in say, New York or Washington or LA, you've got to understand that first.
Trump, Carlson said, appreciated the working class and was grateful for their support. "You'd be grateful for it too if everyone else hated you," Carlson added. He did not mention that he was one of the people who "passionately" hated Trump.
"It’s disgusting. I’m trying to look away"
On January 10, 2021, Carlson texted a member of his staff who told Carlson about Trump's decision to skip Biden's inauguration. "I’d heard that about the inauguration. Hard to believe. So destructive," Carlson wrote. "It’s disgusting. I’m trying to look away."
But on January 20, 2021, the day of Biden's inauguration, Carlson played a clip of CNN's Jim Acosta, who noted the significance of Trump skipping the event.
And, you know, in a way, because the President is defying these traditions of not being a part of the inauguration of President Joe Biden, he is almost leaving town like an autocrat ousted from power heading off into exile.
Carlson did not say he agreed with Acosta that Trump's decision to skip the inauguration was significant. Instead, he mocked Acosta for wearing a mask and called Acosta's comments "performance art" and "very tiresome."
Carlson's guest that day, Steve Krakauer, piled on, saying Acosta's comments were an example of how "the press in the Trump era went completely overboard and became you know, this is this evil, you know, dictatorship that we're covering." Carlson responded, "I agree."
In other words, Carlson spent the program telling viewers that criticism of Trump skipping the inauguration was unwarranted and overblown. But Carlson actually believed that Trump's decision to skip the inauguration was a "destructive" and "disgusting" mistake.
In a November 21, 2020 text message, which was revealed in a previous legal filing, Carlson said that allegations that Dominion rigged its election machines against Trump was "shockingly reckless" because there is no evidence to support it. "[T]here's no one inside the company willing to talk, or internal Dominion documents or copies of the software showing that they did it," Carlson said.
A couple of months later, on January 26, 2021, Carlson hosted MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who had spent months pushing false and unsubstantiated claims about Dominion. (Lindell is also Carlson's largest advertiser.) On Carlson's show, Lindell claimed he was being unfairly targeted by Dominion but would "not back down."
Dominion went on TV and said they were going to go after Mike Lindell. Well, they did. They hired hit groups and bots and trolls, went after all my vendors, all these box stores to cancel me out… It's just a shame, Tucker, what the -- if they can do it to me, believe me, they can do it to anyone out there. But we're not -- I'm not backing down. We cannot back down out of fear this time. Nobody can.
Carlson did not mention that he believed Lindell's claims about Dominion were "shockingly reckless." Instead, Carlson replied, "I totally agree."
In a statement, Fox News accused Dominion "using more distortions and misinformation in their PR campaign to smear FOX News and trample on free speech and freedom of the press."