Tucker Carlson of Fox News is noteworthy as an American newsman. Of all the fine reporters at Fox, he alone refuses to embrace any of the narrative about “Russian meddling” and calls the whole issue out as false. However, his independent thinking goes even farther, extending to round criticism of President Trump. This was reported from an interview Mr. Carlson gave for the Swiss weekly publication, Die Weltwoche.
However, the interview was far-ranging, and characteristic of the American press, The Washington Post, Mediaite and a range of other mainstream, alternative, left-wing, and even some right-leaning publications made use of the criticism by the Fox anchor as the sole focus of its own piece lifted from the admittedly far-ranging interview. For the low-information reader on MSN or the Washington Post, this would be the takeaway from the report:
Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson set straight any misinformation concerning his views on President Trump: “I don’t think he’s capable,” he said during an interview on Tuesday.
Urs Gehriger, an editor at “Die Weltwoche,” Switzerland’s leading German-language opinion weekly, noted that Carlson’s new book, “Ship of Fools,” is silent on Trump but comments on his critics. And so, Gehriger jump-started the conversation by asking what Carlson thought of Trump’s first two years in office.
Carlson said he cannot stand Trump’s self-aggrandizement and boasting. Then, when asked whether Trump has kept his promises, the usually quick-witted and long-winded Carlson had just one word: “No.”
This seemed to set the tone for the overall piece, though admittedly the writer of the WaPo piece, Deanna Paul, does acknowledge that there is more to the story. However, her doing this was only “deceptive honesty”, ostensibly to reassure the reader that Tucker Carlson really does think President Trump is a horrible president. (This even with the comment of Carlson being a “measured Trump supporter” as an example.)
However the original interview when represented fully, is far more interesting. We have linked to it here so that the reader may get the full piece by reading it on its home site. However, to illuminate the American newspaper’s willingness to bend and break the truth, we offer a block of the interview, unbroken, containing the relevant comments that Tucker Carlson gave about President Trump, which are both more and less critical than the filtered piece.
However, we find that all of this fits together in a sensible fashion (the bold italic type is the interviewer, Urs Gehriger, and regular text is Tucker): (Editor’s comment: there are slight corrections in the interview text, because it appears that this text was transcribed directly from audio without interpretation.)
The Swiss are very suspicious of anybody who is boastful. That’s why I have a question about Trump…
…I hate that about him. I hate that… it’s not my culture. I didn’t grow up like that.
In your book you speak a lot about people who attack Trump, but you actually don’t say very much about Trump’s record.
Do you think he has kept his promises? Has he achieved his goals?
No. His chief promises were that he would build the wall, de-fund Planned Parenthood, and repeal Obamacare, and he hasn’t done any of those things. There are a lot of reasons for that, but since I finished writing the book, I’ve come to believe that Trump’s role is not as a conventional president who promises to get certain things achieved to the Congress and then does. I don’t think he’s capable. I don’t think he’s capable of sustained focus. I don’t think he understands the system. I don’t think the Congress is on his side. I don’t think his own agencies support him. He’s not going to do that.
I think Trump’s role is to begin the conversation about what actually matters. We were not having any conversation about immigration before Trump arrived in Washington. People were bothered about it in different places in the country. It’s a huge country, but that was not a staple of political debate at all. Trump asked basic questions like’ “Why don’t our borders work?” “Why should we sign a trade agreement and let the other side cheat?” Or my favorite of all, “What’s the point of NATO?” The point of NATO was to keep the Soviets from invading western Europe but they haven’t existed in 27 years, so what is the point? These are obvious questions that no one could answer.
Apart from asking these very important questions has he really achieved nothing?
Not much. Not much. Much less than he should have. I’ve come to believe he’s not capable of it.
Why should he be not capable?
Because the legislative process in this country by design is highly complex, and it’s designed to be complex as a way of diffusing power, of course, because the people who framed our Constitution, founded our country, were worried about concentrations of power. They balanced it among the three branches as you know and they made it very hard to make legislation. In order to do it you really have to understand how it works and you have to be very focused on getting it done, and he knows very little about the legislative process, hasn’t learned anything, hasn’t and surrounded himself with people that can get it done, hasn’t done all the things you need to do so. It’s mostly his fault that he hasn’t achieved those things. I’m not in charge of Trump.
The title of your book is “Ship of Fools”. You write that an irresponsible elite has taken over America. Who is the biggest fool?
I mean let me just be clear. I’m not against an aristocratic system. I’m not against a ruling class. I think that hierarchies are natural, people create them in every society. I just think the system that we have now the meritocracy, which is based really on our education system, on a small number of colleges has produced a ruling class that doesn’t have the self-awareness that you need to be wise. I’m not arguing for populism, actually. I’m arguing against populism. Populism is what you get when your leaders fail. In a democracy, the population says this is terrible and they elect someone like Trump.
When did you first notice that this elite is getting out of touch with the people?
Well, just to be clear, I’m not writing this from the perspective of an outsider. I mean I’ve lived in this world my whole life.
Which world exactly?
The world of affluence and the high level of education and among– I grew up in a town called La Jolla, California in the south. It was a very affluent town and then I moved as a kid to Georgetown here in Washington. I’ve been here my whole life. I’ve always lived around people who are wielding authority, around the ruling class, and it was only after the financial crisis of 08 that I noticed that something was really out of whack, because Washington didn’t really feel the crisis.
If you leave Washington and drive to say Pittsburgh, which is a manufacturing town about three and a half hours to the west, you drive through a series of little towns that are devastated. There are no car dealerships, there are no restaurants. There’s nothing. They have not recovered. I remember driving out there one day, maybe eight or nine years ago and thinking, boy, this is a disaster. Rural America, America outside three or four cities is really falling apart. I thought if you’re running the country, you should have a sense of that. I remember thinking to myself, nobody I know has any idea that this is happening an hour away. That’s kind of strange since we’re the capital city in charge of making policy for everybody else… Massive inequality does not work in a democracy… You become Venezuela.
You write about vanishing middle class. When you were born over 60 % of Americans ranked middle class. Why and when did it disappear?
If you make above a certain income, or if you live in my neighborhood, you have zero physical contact with other Americans. In other words, the elite in our country is physically separated in a way that’s very unhealthy for a democracy, very unhealthy.
The Democratic Party is out of touch with the working class.
Well, that’s the remarkable thing. For 100 years the Democratic Party represented wage earners, working people, normal people, middle class people, then somewhere around– In precisely peg it to Clinton’s second term in the tech boom in the Bay Area in Francisco and Silicon Valley, the Democratic Party reoriented and became the party of technology, of large corporations, and of the rich. You’ve really seen that change in the last 20 years where in the top 10 richest zip codes in the United States, 9 of them in the last election just went for Democrats. Out of the top 50, 42 went for Democrats. The Democratic Party, which for 100 years was the party of average people is now the party of the rich.
Donald Trump, who is often seen as this world-changing figure is actually a symptom of something that precedes him that I sometimes wonder if he even understands which is this realignment. He served the purpose of bringing the middle class into the Republican Party, which had zero interest, no interest in representing them at all. Trump intuit[ed], he felt, he could smell that there was this large group of voters who had no one representing them and he brought them to the Republican side, but the realignment is still ongoing.
In other words, the Democratic Party used to represent the middle class, it no longer does, it now hates the middle class. The Republican Party which has never represented the middle class doesn’t want to. That is the source of really all the confusion and the tension that you’re seeing now. I do think, going forward the Republican Party will wake up and realize these are our voters and we’re going to represent them whether we want it or not.
They have to, or they will lose.
They have to, or they will die. Yes.
And there is yet more. This interview is extremely informative and interesting. But what it offers in terms of criticism of the President is couched in context, both of the actions that are significant that President Trump has done, and also the state of political conversation and discourse in the United States.
Seen in this light (and of course, a full read of the interview will only enhance this) we find that Mr. Carlson is far from a Trump-hater, which is what the Washington Post was trying to suggest in its lift from this interview.