How Conservative Media Lie to You: The Tucker Carlson Spy Case

Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson is over in Hungary palling around with Viktor Orbán. So I thought it would be a good time to check in with his claim that the NSA was spying on him in order to get his show canceled. Well, if they were, I can’t say that would be counter to trying to keep the US secure. But, of course, the NSA is doing no such thing.

Martin Matishak at The Record reported, NSA Review Finds That Tucker Carlson’s Communications Were Not Targeted. When Carlson first made the claim, I figured that he had been scooped up because he was talking to someone outside the country who the NSA was spying on. But it’s not even that!

Tucker Carlson’s name was “mentioned in communications between third parties.” That’s it. His name was “unmasked.” But that only means that people in the government wanted to know who was being discussed. There’s no there there. Story closed!

Enter The New York Post

The conservative tabloid The New York Post had a different take on the story, Tucker Carlson’s “unmasking” Claim Confirmed by NSA Investigators: Report. It begins:

The National Security Agency has quietly admitted that the identity of Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson was “unmasked” and leaked as he alleged earlier this month, according to a report.

You can see in the headline and the lede that the author, Mary Kay Linge, is trying to deceive with the term “unmasked,” even though it means only that his name was unhidden in a transcript.

And who leaked this? Well, the Tucker Carlson fan who told him. This is what he said on his show:

Yesterday, we heard from a whistleblower within the US government who reached out to warn us that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air

This couldn’t be a more unethical telling of what Matishak reported.

The Post Knows Better

The second paragraph is just a reprint of a Fox News spokesperson’s “outraged” response. The third paragraph begins to tell what happened. But it isn’t until the fourth paragraph that we get what would be the lede in any normal paper:

But the host of Tucker Carlson Tonight was neither a direct nor an incidental target of the agency, the sources said.

So knowing that most people read only headlines and maybe the first one or two paragraphs, Linge and her editors made sure that their readers would be misinformed.

No Accountability

Since the information in The Record came out, there has been no segment on Tucker Carlson Tonight. And with right-wing sources playing interference for him, he won’t need to ever come to terms with his hyperbolic claims.

And the same is true of his audience. This is doubtless one of the reasons that Carlson and many others on the right are so impressed with the authoritarian government of Viktor Orbán. They can continue to get all the good things that go with their power and never have to deal with the bad things like responsibility and accountability.

Afterword

Let’s take a moment to remember when Rutger Bregman forced Tucker Carlson to see that reasonable people all over the world know just what Carlson is. He will at very least be remembered as the Joseph Goebbels of the USA.


Tucker Carlson by Gage Skidmore under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

8 thoughts on “How Conservative Media Lie to You: The Tucker Carlson Spy Case

  1. Is the NYT and Washington Post and NPR liberal tabloids?

    When Jimmy Dore and Tucker Carlson are largely in agreement maybe you should re-examine your knee-jerk liberal claptrap.

    • I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. The New York Post is a tabloid; the others are not. “Tabloid” isn’t a pejorative; it’s simply a paper of that format. However, The Washington Post reported the information accurately. I didn’t read the others.

      As for Carlson and Dore, I suspect that just means that regardless of where they start, all grifters end up on the far right!

      But since you seem to be a Jimmy Dore fan: Cosplay Socialists and Real Revolution.

  2. Right; a “tabloid” is a newspaper printed on a certain size of paper, one which can be easily spread out on a table, thus the name. The NYC Post is one, the Portland “Willamette Week” is another.

    Beg to disagee that all grifters end up on the far right; some leftists peddle consumer products very successfully. One thing I’ll give Carlson; he knows he’s a horrible sack of shit, he has absolutely no problem with lying, on camera, every day of his life, because it pays well. If you have utterly no shame, this is very doable, and those who won’t are fools.

    • Well, that was just a joke. But I’m pretty tired of people like Jimmy Dore and Tim Pool and Glen Greenwald who claim to be on the left but spend all their time hanging out with fascists and dumping on the left.

      • Greenwald’s just gonna Greenwald. He’s brave, principled, intelligent, and Lord if he isn’t damn arrogant about being these things. Just from his books and articles I’ve read, I don’t know the guy, he comes across as one of your friends who’d be absolutely magnificent at taking you to the hospital at 3AM if you asked; and also quick to decide “you’re dead to me” if you disagreed with him on one of his fervent opinions.

        • That used to be my take on him. I found it fascinating how he would be so vicious to allies who disagreed about minor things. And he still makes excellent points about a lot of stuff. At the same time, he’s become an apologist for authoritarians. His hatred of middle-of-the-road Democrats is so great that it has caused him to take up the cause of the far right. If Bolsonaro weren’t explicitly anti-gay, I am certain that Greenwald would back him. As it is, Trump is anti-gay. He just isn’t explicit about it so he’s okay with Greenwald. Of course, if you asked Greenwald if he supported Trump, he would say no (after talking about how terrible the Democrats are). But I’ve come to be unaccepting of this defense. If you hate the Democrats and the Republicans equally but spend 90% of your time blasting the Democrats, you don’t hate the Democrats and Republicans equally. This is the kind of bullshit we get from Tim Pool who claims he’s a liberal but spends all of his time attacking the left. People should just admit to what they are.

          • He was a corporate lawyer for, per Wiki, “the most profitable law firm in the world.” Nice work if you can get it. I’m not going to shit on the guy, as Bolsonaro murdered one of his closest friends, but I do suspect that he’d still happily be a corporate lawyer if they hadn’t pissed him off. This is not the worst reason to be a liberal; I won’t tell anybody from Flint who worked for the water company and then got pissed at it that they’re wrong. Every company I’ve ever worked for is evil; I quit when awful bosses ticked me off enough, not because I had a principled objection to an income that paid my rent/utilities. You offer me $50 an hour to poison puppies, I’d probably do it, I could use the money.

            Greenwald’s just so sanctimonious, though. He’s convinced he’s a hero, in some ways he has been. And it’s a bit mentally deranging to think that. I’m not sure he makes a distinction between taking on the NSA and having an internicene beef with “The Intercept” over some really pointless shit. They’re the same, he’s fighting the fight, except they’re not the same, at all. Too bad; he’s a skilled writer. I admire his citations from publications he criticizes having perfect screenshots of their copy; this is not easy to do, and Greenwald always gets them right; I’m a snarky asshole about formatting, I hate when it’s done wrong.

  3. He was a corporate lawyer for, per Wiki, “the most profitable law firm in the world.” Nice work if you can get it. I’m not going to shit on the guy, as Bolsonaro murdered one of his closest friends, but I do suspect that he’d still happily be a corporate lawyer if they hadn’t pissed him off. This is not the worst reason to be a liberal; I won’t tell anybody from Flint who worked for the water company and then got pissed at it that they’re wrong. Every company I’ve ever worked for is evil; I quit when awful bosses ticked me off enough, not because I had a principled objection to an income that paid my rent/utilities. You offer me $50 an hour to poison puppies, I’d probably do it, I could use the money.

    Greenwald’s just so sanctimonious, though. He’s convinced he’s a hero, in some ways he has been. And it’s a bit mentally deranging to think that. I’m not sure he makes a distinction between taking on the NSA and having an internicene beef with “The Intercept” over some really pointless shit. They’re the same, he’s fighting the fight, except they’re not the same, at all. Too bad; he’s a skilled writer. I admire his citations from publications he criticizes having perfect screenshots of their copy; this is not easy to do, and Greenwald always gets them right; I’m a snarky asshole about formatting, I hate when it’s done wrong.

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