Tucker Carlson’s plan to demonize Democrats as dangerous criminals, while posturing as a voice of reason, didn’t quite work out as he planned when he tried to debate Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) over Trump’s treasonous behvior in Helsinki.
As I’ve repeatedly noted, Carlson seems unable to debate like a grownup. And, since he has previously faced off with the formidable Swalwell, Carlson took some extra time before the discussion to smear Democrats with lies and the kind of inflammatory rhetoric he was pretending to dislike:
CARLSON: The left has run out of possible verbal attacks on President Trump – there are none left – all that’s left is violence.
Carlson never cited anyone promoting violence, just verbal confrontations, occupations and noisy demonstrations. Yet he concluded, “Why wouldn’t you use violence” listening to all the verbal criticism of Trump. “Harassment and occupation could easily turn into something far worse,” Carlson continued. “The left is recklessly egging it on.”
Of course, he never took into consideration any of the right-wing rhetoric, such as Bill O’Reilly’s attacks on “Dr. Tiller, the baby killer”, i.e. Dr. George Tiller who was later assassinated. Or Fox News' Sebastian Gorka who accused Hillary Clinton of treason over the bogus Uranium One scandal and suggested she should be executed while he was at it. Or Donald Trump’s far more explicit incitements to violence.
Apparently, Carlson thinks that if he points a finger at other people with enough venom and inflammatory rhetoric, nobody will notice the incitement coming from his own mouth.
Enter Swalwell. I wish he had directly confronted Carlson on his hideous preamble. But otherwise, Swalwell was a pitch perfect Democratic Fox guest.
Swalwell argued that by his own definition Donald Trump has committed treason. He cited Trump’s claim that Democrats had committed treason when they didn’t stand up for him at the State of the Union address. “His conduct in Helsinki was beyond that,” Swalwell said.
Carlson, of course, could not defend Trump’s conduct in Helsinki, so he accused Swalwell of promoting violence because treason is punishable by death.
Instead of defending his position, as far too many other Democrats would have done, Swalwell went on offense: “Why don’t you have a problem when the president of the United States wants to turn over an innocent U.S. ambassador to the Russians? Swalwell asked.
Carlson claimed he has “a lot of problems” with what Trump has said. But he went back to asking if it was “helpful” to accuse Trump of treason. “Or does it whip the morons into a frenzy and increase the likelihood of violence?”
Carlson tried to badger and berate Swalwell as he attempted to respond but it was a fruitless effort. Swalwell concluded the banter by asking, “At what point do you say that was just the prime minister of Russia [Trump] defending the president of Russia [Putin]?”
Again, instead of defending his position, Swalwell went on offense. “You’re yelling,” he repeatedly told Carlson. “Don’t you love this country, Tucker?” he added, as Carlson contended that he was merely “shocked” to hear Swalwell's talk. As if Carlson hadn’t already said worse things about Democrats and wouldn't have said even worse had President Obama become so chummy with Putin.
“I think it’s a betrayal of the United States to side with Russia over our own intelligence community, to agree to turn over a U.S. ambassador to Russia, who is innocent,” Swalwell continued.
Once again, Carlson proved he can’t debate like a grownup (despite demanding everyone else do so). Rather than respond, he changed the subject to suggest that Swalwell, who represents the Bay area, was shilling for China, that “more repressive country than Russia” because it makes “a lot of your constituents rich.” “All that freedom stuff doesn’t mean squat to you, does it?” Carlson shouted.
Swalwell grabbed control of the discussion again and Carlson never got it back. “Let’s focus on the country that attacked us,” Swalwell said, “and the president who met with that dictator right after those indictments came down. … Tucker, I see why you want to distract … Tucker, tell me why you’re OK with it, tell me why you’re OK with what the president did yesterday.”
Swalwell did not relent: “Are you OK that he sided with Putin? Are you OK with that? … Don’t give me the talking points, Tucker … Were you OK with him siding with Russia?”
Finally, Carlson admitted, “I’m never OK with an American official siding with a foreign government over our own.” But, he added, it did not make an American official a traitor for meeting with Russia or any other regime.
“What about turning over Ambassador McFaul to the Russians? What do you think about that? They didn’t deny that today at the press conference. That is so disturbing. Do you have an opinion on that?” Swalwell hammered.
Carlson never had to answer that question because – oops, he was sorry but time was up.
“Conveniently,” Swalwell noted.
Watch Swalwell give a lesson in how to handle a Fox News interview below, from the July 18, 2018 Tucker Carlson Tonight.
You know if the intro is so over the top the resulting debate will be a total train wreck. And it is. Tucker does his best – as usual – to talk over, distract, bait and attack his ‘liberal’ guest. He thinks a semantic argument over the term “treason” is his best point of attack so he pounds it over and over and over again. He’s unrelenting. Epic fail, dude.
In fairness to Tucker he has a point. There’s a legal definition of treason which Trump hasn’t violated because it requires America to be at war – in this case with Russia. A detail I don’t recall Tucker mentioning. However, the bad news for Tucker is there’s a non-legal definition we all can identify with: a person who has betrayed America to our enemies; no war is necessary. And Swalwell does a decent job of exploiting the Helsinki meeting to make a case of betrayal. For which Tucker doesn’t appear to have much of response because he cuts off the debate when questioned on Trump being agreeable to turn over an American ambassador to the Russians.
Unfortunately, this won’t penetrate the #MAGA crowd. 79% of Republicans are fine with Trump’s boot licking performance in Helsinki. I’m watching CNN interview (white) retirees with their #MAGA golf hats express their support for Trump no matter what. Trump’s appeal is an emotional cultural war. Since it’s an emotional attachment no amount of facts or information will shake their confidence in the corrupt scumbag.