It’s “one of the great ‘I told you so’ moments in recent American history”, said David French in The New York Times. Critics of Donald Trump have long claimed that many of his Republican champions secretly despise him.
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We now know – thanks to the release of internal Fox News documents in a defamation lawsuit – that this is indeed the case; and that one of these people is Tucker Carlson, Fox’s most notorious “demagogue”.
Previous document dumps have revealed that, contrary to what he says on his nightly TV show, Carlson knows that the 2020 election wasn’t “stolen” from Trump. Documents published last week show that he also thinks Trump was a terrible president. “I hate him passionately,” declared Carlson in one text message to his colleagues in January 2021.
“We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it,” he wrote about Trump’s term in office. “But come on. There really isn’t an upside to Trump.” Fox drives the US right-wing news agenda, but it’s all based on lies.
Mainstream news outlets are making hay with these “one- sided” court documents, said J. Peder Zane on RealClearPolitics. There’s no denying that they make Carlson look bad. But his holier-than-thou accusers should “look in the mirror”.
Over recent years, liberal journalists have “advanced a cavalcade of false narratives”. These include the notion that Trump conspired with the Kremlin to steal the 2016 election; that the southern US border is secure; and that only racist conspiracy theorists could believe that Covid-19 leaked from a Wuhan lab.
The Fox News revelations are just “another reminder of how far journalism, on both the Left and Right, has fallen”. The shame is that Carlson was once one of the most talented political journalists of his generation, said Jack Shafer on Politico.
He excelled as a writer for the likes of The Weekly Standard and New York Magazine. Twenty years ago, Carlson took a swipe at Bill O’Reilly, then the king of cable news, mocking his bogus “shtick” as a working-class truth teller taking on the establishment.
If he ever “gets caught out of character, it’s over”, wrote Carlson. “If someday he punches out a flight attendant on the Concorde for bringing him a warm glass of champagne, the whole franchise will come tumbling down.” Little did Carlson know back then that he would go on to become the very thing he scorned: a “transparent phony”.