Now that the NSA watchdog has decided to investigate Tucker Carlson’s phony-baloney claim that the agency was spying on him and leaked their spoils in order to take him off the air, Carlson wants you to think his hammy paranoia has been validated. More likely, the watchdog will confirm what Carlson probably knew all along: that there’s no there there.
Carlson’s colleagues and bosses don’t seem to buy his NSA claims. No other Fox News or Fox Business program had mentioned his allegations since he first offered them last Monday, even as Carlson returned to the topic the following three nights. That is significant because Carlson is the face of the network and his program’s “reporting” often becomes grist for shows up and down the Fox lineup. Meanwhile, reporters asking Fox to comment on Carlson’s claims have come up empty. That silence is particularly extraordinary given that Carlson is alleging that the Biden administration is illegally targeting the network’s employee in order to destroy its 8 p.m. broadcast. If the Fox brass believed that was happening, they’d presumably shout it from the rooftops.
Eric Boehlert’s Press Run explained what almost certainly happened:
In the spring, the Fox host turned to intermediaries to open lines of communication with the Kremlin regarding an interview request, which is a very strange thing to do. I guarantee you when Wallace and Kelly scored their Putin Q&A’s they didn’t do it by emailing shady figures in Putin’s orbit. We can assume they did it by following traditional channels of communication via the State Department. Not surprisingly, Carlson likely ended up communicating with foreign agents close to Putin whom the NSA was monitoring. They probably knew they were being monitored, but never told Carlson his communications were being incidentally collected.
As for the dastardly leak? There’s still no proof it happened, other than Carlson’s untrustworthy word. He could easily provide evidence but he won’t. And specifically, he won’t provide proof that the emails were leaked to journalists directly by the NSA. That’s key because it’s possible Carlson’s email pals — Putin’s cronies — decided to share the contents of the emails with others inside the Beltway.
Robert Storch, the agency's inspector general, said his office has begun "examining NSA's compliance with applicable legal authorities and Agency policies and procedures regarding collection, analysis, reporting, and dissemination activities, including unmasking procedures, and whether any such actions were based upon improper considerations."
The NSA is legally authorized to intercept the communications of foreign targets and does so routinely. If U.S. citizens communicate with foreign persons under surveillance, those contacts can sometimes be swept up as part of the surveillance. The identity of Americans must be kept anonymous, or "masked," in any intelligence reports where they appear. A senior government official can request that the name of a U.S. person be revealed in a process called "unmasking," which is common and can happen thousands of times a year.
After a Tucky Temper Tantrum, Fox somewhat got on board with his NSA lies. More from CBS:
"We are gratified to learn the NSA's egregious surveillance of Tucker Carlson will now be independently investigated," [a Fox] spokesperson said. "As we have said, for the NSA to unmask Tucker Carlson or any journalist attempting to secure a newsworthy interview is entirely unacceptable and raises serious questions about their activities as well as their original denial, which was wildly misleading."
On Wednesday, Carlson took a martyr’s victory lap with Glenn Beck, a guy who probably never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t love.
Carlson said he learned about the [NSA “spying” on him] from a chance encounter with a friend during a trip to Washington, D.C., and that he “immediately” called a senator he trusted. “And I said this kind of scares me, honestly, what should I do?'” Carlson said. “And he said you’ve got to go public with it because you don’t have any other defense. You don’t have actual power. The only power you have is to talk, which is true, and you need to do that right away, prophylactically, as a self-defense move.
“And so I did, and I felt like kind of a lunatic,” he added. “You don’t want to go on TV — I mean, would you want to go on-air and saying they’re spying on me? No, you sound like a nutcase, but I didn’t feel like I had a choice.”
Notably, Carlson ducked and deflected (just like he did when asked about his vaccine status!) when Beck asked if he believes “we’re really going to find out what’s really been going on, that the watchdog for the intelligence agencies are going to be fair and independent.”
CARLSON: Well, I don’t think it’s a scandal. I mean, it’s totally - you should have the expectation when you live in America, if you criticize the regime, then they read your email, I mean … so I thought that was illegal and un-American and an assault on civil liberties but I learned from The Daily Beast that actually if you complain about it, then you hate America. ... Shut up and accept it. You have no privacy. The war on terror has been turned against American citizens but you deserve it because you're a white supremacist. That's what I've been told.
No, Tuckums, it's what you get when you email foreign agents close to Putin.
Oh, and get this:
CARLSON: I think I’m the least paranoid, sunniest, most optimistic, naive person I know. I never assume bad motives on the part of any American.
You can watch Carlson whine to Glenn Beck below, on August 11, 2021.
(Carlson image via screen grab)