Fox host Tucker Carlson could have picked a better time to go on the podcast circuit.
The primetime conservative commentator was already facing mockery and open scorn for newly released text messages which revealed that he had privately derided Donald Trump’s attorney as a liar while letting her spread false conspiracies about the 2020 election on his show, while one of his longtime producers had described dealing with the Fox host’s audience as like “negotitating with terrorists”. Those texts were released as part of Dominion Voting Systems’s $1.6bn lawsuit targeting Carlson’s network.
Now, Carlson is back in the headlines again for comments he made not in private but publicly, to the hosts of the Full Send podcast.
Speaking in an interview, he was asked by one of the co-hosts of the podcasts whether he believed Mr Trump’s claim that he could force Vladimir Putin to end the invasion of Ukraine in a day.
“I have no idea,” Carlson responded. “I mean, he couldn’t build a border wall in four years. So, you know there is a gap between promises and delivery with all politicians, very much including him.”
He then added: “But I will say in Trump’s defense, and maybe because he’s a little bit autistic, he saw the stakes of this, like at the very beginning — and this is what I do love about Trump, particularly in foreign policy. He sees the big stuff. He’s like, ‘Wait, you’ve got Russia and China. They don’t trust each other. We can’t let them get together.’”
Autism spectrum disorder refers to a set of related conditions that can cause developmental issues in children and adults. There is no basis in Mr Trump’s public medical history for Carlson to make such a claim. The remark, instead, exemplifies the somewhat flippant nature with which Americans and others treat autism spectrum disorder diagnoses.
Media reports in recent weeks have indicated that the straight news side of Fox has been utterly roiled by the reports stemming from Dominion’s massive lawsuit against their company, which has exposed the two-faced nature and outright contempt that many on Fox’s opinion side appear to have for not just the former president himself but the tens of thousands of Americans who make up his hardcore fan base (and Fox’s core viewership).
Carlson in particular has caused more humilation for his company’s serious journalists than most: He is publicly known as one of Mr Trump’s biggest boosters on the network, and to this day continues to flirt with election denialism and enthusiastically battles the forces in the GOP who seek to break Mr Trump’s hold on the party.
But in private, Carlson was found in recent weeks to have written in January 2021 that he “hate[s] him passionately”, referring to the former president, and privately celebrated with colleagues: “We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights.”
Carlson has not addressed the scope of his trash-talking of the former president, nor his ex-producer’s description of his viewers as “cousin f****** types” and “terrorists” with his audience.