Last week, Tucker Carlson made a surreal claim, even for a guy who sloppily attempted to downplay the Jan. 6 insurrection. He said he was being spied on. By the U.S. government. Why? Because, he said, they wanted to take down his show. He painted himself as an innocent journalist (even though his own bosses wouldn’t use that term), being pushed around by The Man. But the story seemed not only far-fetched but incredibly vague, as though he was omitting a key piece of information. Well, guess what?
According to Axios, around the time Carlson claimed he was the subject of illegal government surveillance by an agency that looks at foreign powers, he was…talking to a foreign power, one that’s been accused of spying on America and messing with its elections. Specifically he was trying to score an interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin. And wouldn’t you know government officials caught wind of that.
This, however, doesn’t mean that the NSA, or any government agency, had illegally intercepted any of Carlson’s emails, as he has alleged on his show, and there’s no proof that they had. Axios also points out that reporters reaching out to foreign leaders is common practice.
What actually happened is unclear — far foggier than Carlson has let on — but the publication says the most likely scenario is that whoever the Fox News host contacted was already under surveillance. What’s more, the two Kremlin intermediaries Carlson was allegedly dealing with allegedly live in the U.S., either as citizens or simply here temporarily. If the latter is true, the U.S. government doesn’t have to seek approval to monitor their communications.
The news broke soon before Carlson’s nightly Fox News show, and of course he did some damage control.
Tucker: Late this spring, I contacted a couple of people I thought could get us an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin… pic.twitter.com/DlWeJ1XJMp
— Acyn (@Acyn) July 8, 2021
Tucker: So by law, I should have been identified internally merely as a U.S. journalist… I was unmasked pic.twitter.com/swSI1iJq1R
— Acyn (@Acyn) July 8, 2021
Carlson admitted the story about the attempted Putin interview, which he had kept hidden, was true, claiming that “any type of publicity would rattle the Russians and make the interview less likely to happen.” But then, he claimed, Biden and team decided to paint him as “a disloyal American, a Russian operative.” That seems far-fetched, but he had more, accusing whoever leaked the story, and thus unmasking him, to of committing an illegal act.
But people still werne’t buying his version of the story.
So Tucker is saying that ONLY the NSA could have reported on his emails and texts to Kremlin intermediaries, even though Tucker's producer knew, Tucker is a known gossip, and there were, of course, recipients of these messages who could have leaked them. pic.twitter.com/gl4x78NZ6m
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) July 8, 2021
Some did their best to sum it all up.
So basically Tucker got caught communicating with Putin’s inner circle and has decided to go on offense and get big mad about it? That about sum it up? https://t.co/jmWBcYXUrL
— Justin Kanew (@Kanew) July 8, 2021
Even some on the right saw through Tucker’s m.o.: to paint Americans as the enemy.
Tucker Carlson just said that the men & women in OUR FBI, NSA, & CIA are OUR enemy. He just said that the men & women in OUR intelligence community, on the front lines trying to keep US safe, are OUR enemy.
And the millions who are watching him tonight will nod in agreement.
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) July 8, 2021
And others reminded everyone that his employers don’t even think he’s a real journalist.
Fox News lawyers have repeatedly argued in court that Tucker is not a journalist. https://t.co/9NAe92ZqHg
— Scott Stedman (@ScottMStedman) July 8, 2021
Anyway, as usual with Tucker, what a mess.