Tucker Carlson sank so low in his MAGA Make-up interview with Donald Trump that the “patriotic” host actually apologized to Trump for insulting his buddy, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
As you probably know by now, the Dominion defamation case recently published texts and emails that outed Carlson as a Trump hater. Carlson was revealed to have called Trump “a demonic force,” “the undisputed world champion” of “destroying things” whom, Carlson said, he “hates passionately.” On January 4, 2021, Carlson said he “can’t wait” to be able to “ignore him.”
That, of course, was not good for Carlson’s brand or, more specifically, his stock portfolio. The self-styled “sworn enemy of lying” subsequently declared, “I love Trump” on a radio show and laughably pretended the now-public messages only reflected a brief moment of frustration with Trump (they didn't). Never mind that Carlson's disdain for Trump has been evident to us for quite some time.
On Tuesday, Kremlin-darling Carlson put on a show with Trump that Fox pretended was an “interview.” There has been some terrific analysis of it, some of which I have below. But what stood out to me as Carlson’s most craven moment was his apology for insulting North Korea’s anti-American dictator, Kim Jong-un.
TRUMP: I did a great job with North Korea. Kim Jong-un, you went with me on a trip. You insulted him which didn't make my --
TRUMP: It didn't make my life too easy, but that's okay, but you were there, one of the few, and it was an amazing -- it had to be one of the most incredible experiences for you.
CARLSON: For sure.
TRUMP: But it was amazing with thousands of reporters, they weren't treated particularly nicely either by the way, but I got along great with him.
And because of that, we started rough, remember, with you know, Rocket Man, Little Rocket Man? And he said I have a button on my desk, a red button. I said, I have a red button on my desk too. Mine is bigger and mine works, yours doesn't. And this went on for a couple of months and then all of a sudden, the logjam was broken and he wanted to meet and we did meet and we get along great. To this day, we get along great.
Instead of questioning Trump as to whether he’s still in touch with Kim Jong-un, Carlson said nothing. Trump continued:
TRUMP: He won't talk to Biden. He won't even talk to these people. He won't even talk to him. He has no respect for him. He's a man he'd like -- if he respects you, he will respect you.
He wouldn't talk to Obama. Obama tried to get meetings with him. He wouldn't meet with him. He met with me. I met with him twice.
I would have had a deal worked out with him.
Of course, Carlson didn’t ask why Trump hadn’t worked out a deal before leaving office. Instead, lying, groveler Tucker asked, “How would you do that now?”
The Washington Post’s Philip Bump has an excellent analysis of the full interview. It includes a diagram showing just how much Trump babbled on and how little Carlson questioned, much less challenged.
Not exactly speaking truth to power.
But, of course, that isn’t what Carlson does. He marveled at one point that the interview was supposed to be about Trump’s arrest but that they “wound up talking mostly about foreign policy.” That’s because what little steering Carlson did pushed Trump in that direction, asking him, for example, about Russia on multiple occasions. This is what Carlson uses his show for of late: to reshape Republican orthodoxy on foreign policy to be less friendly to Ukraine. It’s an offshoot of his general efforts to reframe American politics broadly to better reflect his own right-wing worldview.
Bump also notes that “perhaps the most telling part” of the charade was this:
“For a man who is caricatured as an extremist,” Carlson said of Trump, “we think you’ll find what he has to say moderate, sensible and wise.”
Carlson likes to posture as a straight shooter who has the courage others don't to tell it like it is. In reality, as I have repeatedly said, he's a political charlatan. This "interview" is the most blatant proof yet.
You can watch Carlson apologize for insulting Kim Jong-un below, from the April 11, 2023 Tucker Carlson Tonight. Underneath is analysis from MSNBC's Chris Hayes and comedic insights from Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert.
Tucker: Given that it’s “demonstrably true” that the nuke threat vastly outweighs the climate threat, “Why isn’t it something our leaders [or the media] talk about?”
Of course, in reality there is some talk about Russia’s nuke threats, just not as much as the Kremlin would like.
Trump answers that in the past “you never heard me mention the word nuclear…it was so massive you don’t talk about” it (except “all the time” in private with Putin). That would seem to have answered Tucker’s question, but not in a way Tucker or Putin would want, so Trump further implies that now that Putin is talking publicly about it, we should all be talking about it. Now, we are to infer, putting America first means abandoning earlier practice in order to seemingly be a megaphone for Putin. Trump says if Ukraine performs “better than anticipated” in the war and then if Putin would use nukes, “that would be that”. Seems like Tucker & Trump would have us root for Ukraine not doing better than anticipated.
Pitching a second time for Putin, Tucker wonders why “the Biden people don’t seem worried about” the threat of nuke weapons in Ukraine. Trump: “That’s ‘cause they don’t understand life [get that buzzword in for the Christian Nationalists], they don’t understand whatever it is you have to understand”. If Trump doesn’t know whatever it is you have to understand, how does he know when somebody does or does not understand it? Having thus numbed the viewer’s mind, Trump contradicts Tucker’s premise by saying Biden was “very afraid” of nukes at first. So we are supposed to believe the once nuke-phobic President Biden is somehow now not worried enough about nukes.
After letting Trump drift off into bragging about North Korea, Tucker asks the only sensible question of the interview: “How do we deescalate with North Korea?”. Trump doesn’t even try to answer, and that was A-OK with Tucker. Afterward I suspect Tucker apologized for asking the question just like he apologized for insulting Kim Jong Un.