Fox News host Tucker Carlson walked back private attacks on former president Donald Trump during a recent interview with conservative radio host Bo Snerdley on WABC Radio — taking pains to assure Trump’s most fervent supporters that he counts himself among the faithful.
“What’s the deal with you and Donald Trump?” asked Snerdley after alluding to texts discovered in the ongoing Fox News-Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit in which Carlson celebrated being “very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights.”
“I hate him passionately,” added Carlson during the January 2021 exchange before offering a scathing assessment of Trump’s presidency. “That’s the last four years. We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it , because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest. But come on. There isn’t really an upside to Trump.” A few days later, on the evening of January 6, Carlson described Trump as a “demonic force” who could “destroy” the network.
Carlson painted a rosier picture of Trump during his conversation with Snerdley on Monday, though.
“Oh, let’s see. I spent four years defending his policies and I — I’m going to defend them again tonight. And actually, and I’m pretty straight forward, I’m — I love Trump. Like, as a person, I think Trump is funny and insightful,” he told Snerdley, before explaining away his texts as being the consequence of false information about the 2020 election fed to him by a Trump staffer that Carlson then repeated on air.
“I felt humiliated,” said Carlson, who nevertheless doubled down on his doubts about the legitimacy of the election during his conversation with Snerdley:
I thought then and I think now that that election was not on the level, it was not a free and fair election. I thought that then. I think it now.
And so, I was trying to — I wanted, you know, evidence. I mean, there’s no way the guy got 81 — he got more votes than Barack Obama. Really?
You know, who — whatever you think of Obama — I never liked Obama — but he’s a really talented, very talented politician. And Joe Biden is senile and hid in his basement. Tell me how he got 81 million votes.
So, I’ve always thought that was not on the level. And so I said to the Trump people, you know, “You’re saying the election was rigged. Send me some examples of it and I’ll put it on the air.”
And one of them was these dead voters. Well, it turned out some of them were still alive. And I was so mad by the incompetence of that campaign, which was completely incompetent. I mean, completely you know, I’m like the one guy who’s open minded about the election being unfair. And — and that’s what they send me? Anyway. Whatever. I was mad. That was a moment in time.
Last August, prior to the publicization of Carlson’s texts, the New York Times‘ Jeremy Peters reported that Carlson’s private commentary “is very different that what he says about Trump in public.”
“It benefits him [Carlson] to be seen having photos taken with Trump at the golf course and everything,” he continued.
“I always say what I think,” Carlson assured Snerdley on Monday. “I can’t keep track of too many lies, you know what I mean?”