Note: This is the full transcript of a recent episode of System Update, originally published on Monday, April 25, 2023. To watch the full video, exclusively on Rumble, click on the link below:
Tucker Carlson, the most popular and most-watched cable news host in the history of that medium is no longer at Fox News, effective immediately. In a terse and cryptic statement, Fox announced today that it and its highest-rated host have “agreed to part ways”, adding “We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.” That was all they said.
This glaringly stingy and ungenerous statement combined with the fact that Tucker was not even given an opportunity to say goodbye to his audience or explain his departure. His last program was on Friday night at its normal time, with no indication that this would be his last show – was obviously something Tucker was unaware of on Friday night – indicates that this is not exactly an amiable separation. Reporting is very sparse about the proximate cause of what happened and despite my efforts to my best efforts today, I too, have been able to find out very little about what the immediate spark was. But that doesn't mean I find this event shocking or even surprising. We’ll undoubtedly find out what led to this abrupt and almost certainly less than amicable separation. But that doesn't mean there is nothing of value to say, that there's no meaning to derive from this remarkable decision. That Tucker's program has thrived for so long at the key p.m. hour on Fox, having taken over for Bill O'Reilly when he, as the top-rated show was forced out, in 2017, is something of a fascinating aberration. Each year since he took over, Tucker has moved further and further away from longstanding Republican orthodoxy and that orthodoxy, as it was expressed in the Bush-Cheney era and before that, even in the Reagan era, is something that a large segment of American conservatism, as expressed by Tucker, has increasingly come to reject. Like the 2016 Trump campaign, which was run explicitly in opposition to long-standing establishment Republican pieties on militarism, foreign policy, and even economics, Carlson's program has increasingly been shaped by divergence from establishment Republican policies and dissent from the bipartisan neoliberal class that it has long ruled Washington and continues to do so with ample bipartisan support. More often than not, one heard radically different views from Tucker Show during the 8 p.m. hour and then the views of the far more reliable Republican partisan Sean Hannity during the 9 p.m. hour. It's almost impossible to conceive of any such different difference happening on MSNBC and CNN with radically different ideological perspectives from one hour to the next. The 10 p.m. hour on Fox, hosted by Laura Ingraham, was somewhere in the middle of those two though closer to Tucker's worldview than to Hannity's. The same is true, though perhaps a tad less so for the 7 p.m. hour hosted by Jesse Watters. So, all of that shows a very serious ideological flux within the Republican Party and in American conservatism all of this, and especially Tucker's abrupt departure, reflects a sharp and vibrant debate and ideological dissent within the GOP and American conservatism more generally, a debate and a vibrancy that is utterly absent from the Democratic Party and the liberal left media that serves it, which is almost always in lockstep with party leaders on every key issue.
And it is that vibrant ideological split that is the key context for understanding Tucker Carlson's departure from Fox then. And very relatedly, speaking of the lockstep and repressive climate that prevails in affordable politics and media and those Democratic Party circles that those factions serve, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York in what is certainly a coincidence, but yet a very revealing one nonetheless, went on to the new MSNBC program of Joe Biden's former White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, on Sunday, and explicitly urged the United States government and the Biden administration to ban Tucker Carlson from “being permitted to appear on television.” That despotic view, one that any mainstream political figure would have been far too ashamed to publicly advocate even a decade ago is now utterly standard – standard and acceptable – in the left wing of the Democratic Party that is always somehow finding new ways to become even more authoritarian and crypto tyrannical. We'll examine why AOC’s demands about censorship of Tucker’s show are so reflective of her running political faction and the reason why Tucker’s separation from Fox may be the best thing that could have happened to him in terms of his influence and impact, provided that he ends up joining the independent sector of media such as that represented by Rumble, which is the only sector of media now that is thriving, growing and most importantly, immune from the despotic censorship pressures of AOC and her left-liberal media allies. We'll examine all of that tonight.
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For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update starting right now.
It's almost impossible to imagine a bigger story in cable news or even in American media generally than the announcement by Fox News this morning – that came very abruptly and without any explanation – that Tucker Carlson is no longer employed at Fox News and his highest-rated program, Tucker Carlson Tonight at 8 p.m. will no longer appear on that network. As I said, there will be certainly a lot of reporting that emerges over the next few days and we will try and do a lot of that that exposes exactly what the most proximate causes were, not just what led to the separation, but why it happened in this way. There was no announcement that Tucker's last show would be in several weeks. There was no explanation provided by Fox or by Tucker today about exactly what it is that happened. It's somewhat shrouded in mystery, exactly what the events were over the last few days that led to this unexpected decision and, clearly – given not just that it happened, but how it happened – it's almost certainly the case that it was not amiable. Amiable separations after five or six years at the network come with a lot of fanfare, a lot of positive things that they say about one another, and very good reasons why it's happening. And most important of all, an end date that gives the host an opportunity to speak one last time to his audience about the reasons he's leaving and what it might be that he would be doing in the future. Even Brian Stelter, after he was fired by CNN, despite having no audience or because he had no audience, was given that opportunity, that's generally customary. The fact that Tucker is just taken off the air abruptly with no opportunity to even speak one last time to his audience is a pretty strong sign that whatever happened, happened with some degree of acrimony and some degree of animus. And I'm a little bit constrained, to be perfectly transparent, in my ability to speculate on why that is. The Tucker Show is one on which I often appear, along with other Fox shows like Laura Ingraham and Jesse Waters, Howie Kurtz Media Show, on Sunday, and Tucker is a friend of mine. And so, I'm reluctant to do anything like speak for him or speculate based on things I know as part of those more personal conversations. As I said, the reporting in terms of finding out inside Fox, finding out what happened is certainly something I've been doing all day and will continue to do, and will report on what I learn as soon as I am able. No media reports today have tried to shine any light on what might have caused this separation, and Tucker has, at least as of this moment, not spoken out at all publicly in terms of what took place. So, until he does and until there's more reporting that's reliable, not reporting that comes from hostile news organizations like CNN or anonymous sources in The New York Times, we should assume that we don't yet know the precipitating events over the last few days, but there are certain things that are worth analyzing and meaning that we can derive from the fact this happened the way that it happened.
I want to begin with the simple fact that Tucker Carlson's program was simply like any other program that appears on cable news and that, I would suggest, has ever appeared on cable news. It is a widespread perception among the few viewers that CNN has or the readers that The New York Times has, or people who follow the Democratic Party that Fox News is this monolith that the American right and the Republican Party is a monolith, that they all believe the same things about everything, that it's a cult of Donald Trump, that there's no criticism ever aired of Donald Trump, something that you have to be completely ignorant to believe. Tucker Carlson’s show by itself is living proof, a breathing testament to how much a vibrant and often sharp debate there is within Republican Party politics and the broader American conservative movement. And one of the reasons why people who are less liberals and followers of the Democratic Party and who only get their information from The New York Times and The Washington Post and CNN and NBC News, have no conception of these debates on the right is because there is none on the left, meaning the mainstream left, the mainstream, liberal left. There was just a report in Politico ten days ago on the career trajectory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whom you may remember presented herself, branded herself when she ran in 2018, as a primary challenger to Joe Crowley, whom many suspected might be Nancy Pelosi's successor to lead the Democratic Party. She branded herself an insurgent of the Democratic Party, a critic of the Democratic Party as much as the Republican Party. Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign as well, described itself as meeting a political revolution not against the Republican Party, but against the establishment wings of both parties, particularly the Democratic Party. And yet in 2020, when Bernie Sanders’s campaign was sabotaged by the Democratic establishment, just as it was in 2016, he didn't express real anger about that fact. He didn't urge his supporters to rise and protest to the Democratic establishment. He instead instructed them all that they should do what he was about to do, which was fall obediently and loyally into line behind Joe Biden and the Democrats. And that's exactly what Bernie Sanders proceeded to do – as a reward, he became the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. When is the last time you heard Bernie Sanders say anything that alienates or is contrary to the core agenda of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party? The same exact path was followed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to the point that Politico just this week, or last week, celebrated her, rewarded her, and patted her on the head. Because it announced that AOC is now a “team player,” that she's now playing the inside game while she started off as someone who pretended to be a dissident to Democratic Party politics and establishment orthodoxy and instead has become one of the most valuable instruments of the Democratic Party, someone who is completely loyal to the Biden administration, who almost never critiques Democratic leaders or Democratic Party orthodoxy. And so, the movement that formed around Bernie Sanders and AOC, the media outlets and the media figures who got rich by branding themselves as followers of Bernie and AOC, who pretended to be edgy, dissident outsiders to Democratic Party politics, have followed AOC and Bernie into captivity, into the Democratic Party, to the point where when Joe Biden wanted $40 billion more for the war in Ukraine back in May of last year, every single Democrat, from the more establishment conservative wings to the moderate wing, to the supposedly left wing of the Democratic Party led by Bernie Sanders and AOC, every single last one of them fell lockstep into line and unanimously voted yes in partnership with the establishment wing of the Democratic Part – people like Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell – to vote yes in support of sending $100 billion of American funds – in that case, 40 billion – to fuel the war in Ukraine, to enrich the CIA, expand their authority and reach Raytheon in General Dynamics. There is no longer any internal debate within Democratic Party politics or the mainstream left-liberal faction, by which I mean the faction that follows Bernie and AOC and, at the end of the day, is nothing more than a Democratic Party loyalist.
The exact opposite is true when it comes to American conservatism in the Republican Party, where there is vibrant and often extreme and hostile debate within the party and within American conservatism, not about ancillary issues, but about the most important issues of the day, starting with the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine, which Joe Biden himself says is the event that has brought the planet closer to nuclear Armageddon than any moment since 1962 in the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Republican establishment, led by Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, stood in line behind Joe Biden in lockstep with every Democrat and voted yes to support that war – send your money to Ukraine to fight over who governs various provinces in Eastern Ukraine. But the only no votes came from a pretty substantial and yet still minority populist wing of the Republican Party with five dozen or so House members led by Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene and numerous other populists who don't support American imperialism or wars fought on behalf of countries in which the American people have no direct interest, along with 11 senators, including people more associated with the populist right like Josh Hawley, who voted no.
So, you see this debate from one issue after the next. The question of whether Julian Assange should be pardoned for his truth-telling and confrontation with the American Security State, whether the NSA should be given greater spying powers, and whether the CIA is a benevolent institution whose authority should continuously increase along with its budget. From one issue after the next, the only debate we have in mainstream U.S. politics takes place within the Republican Party and on and on the right-wing conservative wing of the Republican Party. That debate doesn't exist in mainstream Democratic Party politics. You can find it in the marginalized left, the kind of people I often bring on my show, like Norman Finkelstein, who was on my show last week, or Nick Cruise and others from the Revolutionary Black Out Network whom I've had on my show, people who do not fall in line and urge their followers to go and vote Democrat no matter who it is, even in the bluest of states like Gavin Newsom. But other than them, and it's a very small and inconsequential faction, unfortunately, the mainstream liberal left of the mainstream Democratic Party is not only completely in lockstep and unified with one another ideologically, but with the government and with the corporate media which serves that part of the Democratic Party: CNN, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post. There are almost no differences ever. They're just over there unified, in unison, the kind of lockstep behavior that they falsely accuse the American right and conservativism in Fox News of being driven by. It’s pure projection. That's that part of American politics, the reason it's become so worthless. They're subservient. There's no critical thought and there's never any challenge to leaders. They're a movement of followers.
And what did the Tucker Carlson program represent being at the key hour of Fox News that kicks off its prime time, at 8 p.m.? What has always been the anchor of Fox? As I said, Bill O'Reilly, the previous anchor of Fox News, the most highly-rated host who occupied that position. The fact that Tucker Carlson is now there is amazing and important because his show is about little else than dissent, not from the establishment Democrats, but from the establishment Republicans and their ideology of endless war, militarism and corporatism. He not only expresses an advocate but constantly airs the kind of dissent that left liberals in the United States falsely tell themselves they represent. There is no dissent, no dissident in the mainstream left, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, thanks to Bernie Sanders and AOC, and exist only in the populist right among the people who are shaped by the Trump campaign and it was anchored in the media by Tucker Carlson and his program at 8 p.m. And removing Tucker Carlson from the airwaves doesn't just mean that Fox is removing the most popular host in the history of cable news, though it does mean that they are removing from the air the only person on television, on mainstream television who would air dissent on a huge number of crucial issues. As I said, Laura Ingraham does it as well now. Jesse Waters does it sometimes. A couple of other people on Fox do it. But in terms of just relentlessly and intensely forming his worldview based on increasing levels of radical dissent from establishment orthodoxy, there is no one on television who was doing what Tucker Carlson was doing. It is almost impossible to believe that that didn't play a major factor in why he's gone.
Fox News is led by the Murdoch family still, and they have made it very clear that they've become embarrassed by some of the things Fox has been doing, although ironically, that embarrassment typically is about things like Fox hosts insisting that there was fraud in the voting machines for which Fox News just paid close to $1 billion to Dominion in a defamation lawsuit. And yet, Tucker Carlson was never one of the people affirming that after the election, quite the contrary, he was one of the few with the willingness on television to sometimes alienate his own audience by telling them when they did not want to hear it, that people like Sidney Powell have never presented evidence just to substantiate her claims, and that until there's evidence presented, nobody should believe what she's saying.
In almost every issue, one after the next, you found dissent on Tucker Show, oftentimes views that the liberal left traditionally had expressed, but no longer would that only this program would. So let me just show you a couple of examples and obviously, we have to begin with the war in Ukraine, because, from the very beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, back in 2022, Tucker was essentially the only person on television – and again, Laura Ingraham did it too, I don't mean to downplay her – but Tucker was really the one, night after night after night, front loading this question of why the American people should be willing to spend huge amounts of our resources on this foreign war in a country in which we have no vital interests, all while risking escalation, and as a result of that, he constantly got called a Russian agent. He was put on an official list of the Ukrainian government, along with people like myself, Tulsi Gabbard and Brazil's President, Lula da Silva, who, ironically, has become a world leader questioning this war over and over. The only one who really shares that view or airs that view in American media has become Tucker Carlson. So let's just look at one example of a countless number of examples in which Tucker started his show up by looking into the eyes of his audience, millions and millions of people, and asking the question that rarely gets asked when it comes time to support a new war and spend billions and billions of dollars on it, which is how the American people benefit from this war, other than the tiny little sliver of elites in the intelligence community and the arms manufacturing industry.
(Video. Tucker Carlson Tonight. March 15, 2023)
Tucker Carlson: Good evening and welcome to Tucker Carlson Tonight. Well, it looks like you're going to get a hot war with Russia and China. Whether you want one or not. Yesterday morning, an American Reaper drone went down over the Black Sea. We still do not know exactly what happened. We're not going to lie to you. We don't know and we don't expect to find out anytime soon, if ever. The Biden administration says it knows. It says the unmanned drone was harassed and damaged by two Russian fighter jets over international waters. So, we're going to have to take their word for it. Everybody else seems to be. Lindsey Graham didn't ask many penetrating questions. No, he moved immediately and seized the opportunity to demand that the Pentagon attack the Russian air force. Here he is.
Lindsey Graham: Well, we should hold them accountable and say that if you ever get near another U.S. flying in international waters, your airplane would be shot down. What would Ronald Reagan do right now? He would start shooting Russian planes down if they were threatening our assets.
Tucker Carlson: What would Ronald Reagan do? Oh, good question, Senator Graham. Ronald Reagan's two-term presidency was notable for the fact that he did not declare war on the Russian air force and therefore the United States did not go to war with Russia and millions of lives were saved as a result. It's not a small thing, but one in the Reagan win column there.
Notice there he did not choose as the person he could attack or would attack a leading Democrat or leading Democratic senator, as he easily could have done given that what Lindsey Graham is saying about the war in Ukraine is something almost every member of the Democratic Congress from AOC and Nancy Pelosi to Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer have said from the start, he, instead, purposely chose a member of the Republican establishment because often, more often than not, the target of his critiques was the Republican establishment, were the Republican establishment leaders.
When is the last time you have ever or whatever on MSNBC or CNN see a host so devoted to constantly attacking leading Democratic senators or leading members of the House of Representatives from the Democratic Party? Never. The only time you ever see a Democratic lawmaker criticized on those other networks is on the op-ed pages of The Washington Post – The New York Times, on the very rare occasion when someone like Joe Manchin or Kirsten Sinema has the audacity to oppose something Joe Biden wants and then they get attacked: for being disloyal to the Democratic Party. Tucker is not attacking Lindsey Graham for disloyalty to the Republican Party. Lindsey Graham is expressing the views of the Republican establishment of what most Republicans believe. To have an 8 p.m. show on Fox primarily devoted or at least overwhelmingly devoted to dissecting and critiquing and dissenting from the core views of the Republican establishment is something remarkable on television, especially given how partisan and polarized our media has become. Usually what you have are media outlets that are completely enthralled with and in captivity to the Democratic Party over here. And then in the past, you've had Fox News and certain people of the right-wing media, members of the right-wing media and throughout the Republican Party, and there are these little partisan soldiers and the media going off and defending their party leaders. Tucker Carlson never did that. Ever. He is somebody who was a menace to Republican establishment orthodoxy and Republican establishment leaders more than probably anybody else, more than anybody else. And that is remarkable.
And it is not just him in isolation, but that is something that happened as a result of Donald Trump's campaign. This is something that was long-standing as a trend in Republican Party politics and conservative politics, going back to the far more successful than expected presidential campaigns of Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012 when he was doing things like going into the deepest parts of evangelical Iowa and South Carolina and ranting and raving against the Bush-Cheney neoconservative agenda and war in Iraq and asking those people: “How are you possibly helped by a war on the other side of the world that's designed to change the government of Iraq? It sends your children into combat and danger and risks their lives for a war that a tiny sliver of Americans benefits from.”
Ron Paul did much better than expected because he was tapping into growing anger with the establishment, not the Democratic establishment, the bipartisan neo-liberal establishment in Washington. And it was Donald Trump who tapped into that more than anybody recognized it, he ran his campaign in 2016 against Bush and Cheney and even old Reaganomics orthodoxies, trying even to conceive of the possibility that a Democratic presidential candidacy could have any success. If it ran against, say, the orthodoxies and defining policies of Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, or even criticize them in the mildest of ways they would be destroyed. Democrats demand lockstep partisan loyalty from their media figures and from their politicians. And what Trump first did, and then what Tucker's show expanded, is creating a space for people on the populist right to wage the war and to express their anger with the Republican establishment that Fox News had never previously given air to and that no media outlet allows in terms of the party to which they're loyal.
Here's an example of him doing this on Ukraine. As I said, he did it from the start. When he did it, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi were every bit as much targets of his as Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham and all of the neocons who were in the Republican Party and now migrated to the Democratic Party precisely because there's no Ron Paul or Tucker Carlson or Donald Trump in the Democratic Party who stands up and questions U.S. militarism. He also would express critiques of corporatism and crony capitalism of the kind that you almost never hear in mainstream media, especially in the past, on conservative networks or conservative media. The idea that hedge fund conservatism, neoliberalism, international institutions are not just “occasionally bad,” but intrinsically undesirable and corrupt. I don't think you can hear that out of the mouth of any Democratic politician, or certainly from any corporate media that has alignment with the liberal after the Democratic Party. And listen to the sorts of things Tucker Carlson would say about corporatism and adherence to international capitalism, even going so far as to attack major financiers within conservative politics like Paul Singer and hedge fund politics, who were often big stockholders in Fox News itself. Watch this and think about whether this kind of view would ever previously have been aired not just on Fox, but any corporate media outlet.
(Video. Tucker Carlson Tonight. Dec. 3, 2019)
Tucker Carlson: Instead, the model is ruthless economic efficiency. Buy distressed companies, outsource the jobs, liquidate the valuable assets, fire middle management and once the smoke is cleared, dump what remains to the highest bidder, often in Asia. It's happened around the country. It has made a small number of people phenomenally rich. One of them is a New York-based hedge fund manager called Paul Singer, who, according to Forbes, has amassed a personal fortune of more than $3 billion.
How has Singer made that money? He made a lot of it by purchasing sovereign debt from financially distressed countries, countries that were in trouble, usually at a massive discount. Once a country's economy regains some stability, Singer would bombard its government with lawsuits and a massive public relations campaign originating here in Washington, sometimes, until he made his money back with interest. The practice is called vulture capitalism, feeding off the carcass of a dying nation. In some ways, it's not so different from what Singer and his firm, Elliott Management, have done in this country – and to this country. Over the past couple of decades, Elliott Management has been billions by buying large stakes in American companies, then firing workers, driving up short-term share prices and, in some cases, taking government bailouts. Insult to injury, Bloomberg News once described Singer as “the world's most feared investor” and that tells you a lot. No one's even pretending Paul Singer's tactics are good for anyone but Paul Singer and his fund.
This was the title of the segment: “Hedge Funds are Destroying Rural America.” It was a 12-minute, very well-researched and well-documented but also passionate rant against what he called vulture capitalism. The people who are in the nation’s hedge funds and vulture capital funds have no allegiance to the individual American or rural America or working-class America but have allegiance only to destroying countries for their own personal gain. Not just foreign countries but dumping American jobs in those countries and ravaging American working-class neighborhoods throughout the country, similar to the way he would often document how BlackRock would buy up tons of real estate and drive prices up and make them unaffordable to working-class Americans. Just deep fundamental critiques of not capitalism itself, but the way in which American capitalism has become vulture capitalism and crony capitalism in a way that is the most destructive force in American life.
Do you think the Murdoch family and Paul Ryan, who is on the board of Fox News, were happy to hear this sort of critique? Again, this is a critique shared by a lot of conservatives now, a lot of populist conservatives. Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign, when he was working with Steve Bannon, wanted to essentially come in and tax these people in order to generate income to secure Social Security and Medicare and build a wall. That was the plan – until he lost his power struggle with Jared Kushner and economic policy under the Trump government, under his administration, became more classically Republican. But this kind of critique has never been heard on Fox News before. Tucker Carlson, and is anathema to the kind of people who fund the Republican Party and who control Fox News.
Here is one of the most amazing things that I think Tucker did in terms of showing his dissent. There are few people hated more in American elite culture than Julian Assange. In 2010 and 2011, when Assange got a vast archive of documents, he first worked with the New York Times and The Guardian and El País and other country news outlets around the world, and he exposed all kinds of crimes committed by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan around the world. He was despised by the U.S. Security State, the CIA, the FBI, Homeland Security saw Assange's enemy number one until Edward Snowden came along in 2013 – and I worked with him and we started competing with them. There's been reporting about the attempts that they had to destroy us, to prosecute us, to assassinate people who were working on that case, and to do so to Julian Assange – it is impossible to overstate how much the U.S. elite culture in DC despises Assange. In both parties. Dianne Feinstein was writing op-eds in the Wall Street Journal in 2010. She's on the Intelligence Committee, she's the biggest servant in the CIA saying to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act. And he still had occasionally some support among liberals on the left that still back then regarded the Security State as a menace and a malevolent force. But then, in 2016, when Julian Assange committed his real crime, which was publishing true documents incriminating Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party in the middle of the 2016 campaign, it forced the resignation of the top five members of the Democratic Party, including its chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and proved that the DNC cheated to make sure Hillary Clinton won that primary over Bernie Sanders and in general expose the deceit of Hillary Clinton, the secret things she was saying when speaking to Goldman Sachs for $750,000 that were the opposite of what she was saying in public, where she was pledging her loyalty to the Goldman Sachs vulture capitalists; to Tucker Carlson publicly critiques, but in public, she was pretending she was going to be on the side of the working class. The reporting WikiLeaks did was devastating to Hillary Clinton and that eliminated the rest of whatever residual support Julian Assange had among left-liberals. That's the reason why they all want him in prison, not because of those 2010 publications which he's being charged with, in fact, because in 2016 he did reporting detrimental to the Democratic Party. They blame him for helping Trump win. That's why they want to see him in prison imagine that, how repressive the Democratic Party is that before 2016, the Obama administration decided they weren't going to prosecute Julian Assange, Joe Biden was part of that administration, because back then it was only exposing the war crimes of the Security State. The only thing that changed between then and now is that in 2016, he reported on Hillary Clinton in an unflattering light. He did his job as a journalist. And now Joe Biden and the Biden administration are aggressively pursuing his imprisonment. On television, nobody was willing to go to bat for Julian Assange during the Trump years except for Tucker Carlson. He went on a virtual crusade urging the pardon of Julian Assange, and everyone knew he had the ear of Donald Trump. Trump watched his show religiously, and Tucker Carlson would put people on one after the next: Assange's family, celebrity supporters of Assange, myself, and other journalists look into the camera and we were able to directly appeal to Trump and argue for the pardon of Julian Assange. Here's just one example of Tucker Carlson being the only person in primetime television willing to go to bat and do an actual crusade to get Assange pardoned.
(Video. Tucker Carlson Tonight. Sept. 27, 2021)
Tucker Carlson: Julian Assange has been in jail for an awfully long time. He's now in jail in the UK, was under house arrest in a foreign embassy in London. The U.S. has now accused Julian Assange of violating the Espionage Act. This has been going on for a long time. It's just dumb weird. It took us a very long time, years to ask the obvious question: What exactly did Julian Assange do wrong? Everyone, all good people hate Julian Assange. What was his crime exactly? Was he hacking into other people's computers? Was he stealing secrets from the U.S. government? No. Actually, he was publishing things other people sent him. He was a journalist. He was an editor. That's literally true. Can you throw editors in jail because they embarrass you? Probably shouldn't. Not a good precedent to set. Even if you don't like the person's politics, you should be against that. Why good people are against it? We spoke recently to Pamela Anderson; she was trying to get a pardon for Assange. Watch this.
Pamela Anderson: He needs to do the right thing. This is one of those moments in history, in his lifetime, that he needs to make the right decision. And so, it's all up to President Trump. But he would really gain a huge following and a huge sigh of relief and gratefulness from so many people on the planet.
Tucker Carlson: We spoke to Roger Waters of Pink Floyd about it. Tonight, we're going to speak to Julian Assange’s father and brother, John Shipton, is his father; Gabriel Shipton is his brother. We're happy to have them on the show tonight. John and Gabriel, thanks so much for coming on. Thanks, John. First to you. What – This is a sincere question. What did your son do wrong? Exactly? What is his specific crime?
John Shipton: Well, no specific crime at all, Tucker. He has just offended some people in certain sections of Washington and consequently has faced 12 years now of persecution and harassment.
This was a very long segment and he did many other ones. It is hard for me to overstate how radically divergent Tucker's position was, not his position, but his campaign, his crusade was on behalf of Julian Assange from Republican Party politics. If you go back to 2010 and 2011, 2012, you can find almost nobody in the Republican Party willing to say anything about Julian Assange other than he's a traitor, he deserves to be executed or he deserves to be put into prison for the rest of his life. That was the Republican view, the conservative view of Julian Assange almost across the board. And one of the things that also distinguishes Tucker, aside from so often diverging from Republican Party orthodoxy, like I've shown you several examples of him doing, is he was, I think, the only person or one of the only people willing to go on television often and admit that he was wrong in the past. I used to hold this view. I now hold this view. Here's the reason I changed, and this is why I now hold a view that is different from the view I used to hold. And like Donald Trump and a lot of Trump supporters, Tucker shot up close just how corrupt and deceitful and malevolent the CIA, the FBI, the NSA are. He changed his view of Edward Snowden, the reporting that I did back in 2013 when Tucker was somewhat hostile to it and now sees that it was important to show the American people that the NSA was spying en masse on millions of people. He said that often when I was on and he changed his view, like so many people who followed, who were supporters of Donald Trump, including Trump himself, on Julian Assange because he too saw the need for transparency of these agencies. And yet this was a view that was almost never expressed in Republican Party politics. And after 2016, you could not find major Democratic Party leaders or major Democratic Party media figures willing to stand up for Assange. Only in the last few weeks have a few members of the Squad and progressives finally signed a letter after being pressured by the ACLU and other free press freedom groups on Assange's behalf. But it was only Tucker for years on television willing to go to bat for Assange in this way.
Beyond that, let me show you this clip, which I found incredibly interesting just to again illustrate how certain views the liberal left pretends that they hold, yet their leaders and media figures never defend, were ones you could only find in this show. I went on Tucker’s show in order to talk about a particularly repressive step the Biden administration had taken, in terms of trying to control the flow of information on the Internet. In order to do that, or before I got to that – before he asked me about that – earlier that day, protest movements had broken out in Havana against the Castro regime, and members of both political parties stood up and said, the United States needs to stand with these protesters. We need to support these protesters. We need to help them change the government of Cuba. It was not just conservative Democrats, but even members of the Squad who were saying this, along with every person on television practically. And without really even telling me that this is going to happen, Tucker decided to start the segment, which is supposed to be about Biden's repression, talking about how Republicans on the Hill were not focused on Joe Biden's repression, but for some reason decided that their focus instead should be on the government of Cuba and fixing the government of Cuba. And here's what he said about that.
(Video. Tucker Carlson Tonight. July 21, 2021)
Tucker Carlson: […] Cuba, because even today, idiot Republicans on the Hill spent their whole day talking about the lack of freedom in Cuba. And it's not a free country. That's true. But increasingly, neither are we. And they don't seem to notice what's going on in the country. They're supposed to be running and they're spending all their time focused on this Caribbean nation. It is not central to our interest. I mean, doesn't the First Amendment say pretty clearly the government is not allowed to control the press? I thought that was the point of it here. The government seems to be controlling the press.
Glenn Greenwald: Yeah. I mean, I thought the whole point of the Make America Great Again, America First foreign policy as articulated by Donald Trump and his allies in Congress was we shouldn't be fixing other countries. We should be focusing on our own country and making […] for Americans. And it's very easy to talk about censorship in Beijing or Havana but what about right in front of your nose, right down the street at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
This, to me, is a major contradiction within conservative politics. I've done shows on this before: a lot of people profess a belief in America First foreign policy articulated by Donald Trump, and people like Ron Paul before him, and others before him, and yet still there's a very neocon influence that prevails within Republican Party politics that still wants to go around the world fighting wars and fixing other countries – fixing other countries – changing other countries in a way that has no effect on the lives of American citizens, whether being sanctions in Venezuela, to facilitate regime change there, or arming or funding protesters in Cuba to get rid of the government that they don't like, or making sure that Zelenskyy continues to govern parts of Eastern Ukraine, even if the people in those provinces prefer to be ruled by Moscow. All these things are not in the interests of the American people, and even members of the Republican Party who still profess adherence to an America First foreign policy continue to want to support it. That is not aired anywhere except on this program – that Fox has canceled. A view in this particular case, why is the United States, why is it our business to fix Cuba and change the government that used to be a view that the left and the Democratic Party claimed to support, and yet none of them ever in this instance stood up and said this – not on MSNBC, not on CNN, not on the op-ed pages of any of those newspapers. Only on this program.
The example from just last week I think is particularly amazing and it's so vivid because this is a case where the Biden Justice Department indicted four black radical leftists, not the kind of leftists that support the Democratic Party and AOC and Bernie Sanders and think they're being radical, not the kind of leftist like that Twitch streamer I talked about last week who got very rich going around saying “I'm literally a communist dude” and then tells his supporters to vote for Gavin Newsom in the extremely blue state of California because the only way he can stay in mainstream politics is by proving his ultimate loyalty to the Democratic Party. No. Real black leftists, real black leftists, the kind that hate the Biden administration, hate the Democratic Party, view them as imperialist, and particularly, hate the war in Ukraine. They just got indicted for being agents of the Russian government and not a single person in media, in mainstream media, not anyone in any of those media outlets I listed, not a single Democratic Party lawmaker, including AOC or Cori Bush or Jamaal Bowman or Ilhan Omar, or any of them, was willing to stand up in defense of the First Amendment rights of these radicals. Because these are real radicals. These are real dissidents. These are the kind Democratic Party wants nothing to do with, who they are embarrassed by and who oppose the war in Ukraine. And so, the only person willing to stand up for the right is the person whom people in the rest of the media and the liberal mainstream political faction will just insist over and over, as though it's just gospel – you don't even need to prove it – is a white supremacist, an irredeemable racist. That's the only person willing to stand up and defend these four black radical leftists because the reality is, Tucker Carlson's core view is that the government should be devoted to the interest of Americans, regardless of their race or regardless of their [ideology], that we should stop seeing people in those terms. And that's why he was the only one willing to have me on the show to talk about this case and talk about the dangers it presents. Let me just show you a little bit of that. You see there. The graphic is called Domestic Dissidents. That's how he saw them correctly. And it was in defense of the right to dissent that he was rising.
(Video. Tucker Carlson Tonight. April 20, 2023)
Tucker Carlson: Okay, again, we're not defending that guy because we agree with all of his views. We probably don't. That is totally irrelevant. Whether you agree with what someone is saying has nothing to do with his right to say it. Americans are allowed to say what they think is true, period. If they take that right away, you are no longer a citizen, you are a slave.
Glenn Greenwald is the host of System Update and joins us tonight. Glenn, thanks so much for coming on. I'm actually in some ways glad that they went after a group of people I probably don't agree with on a lot of things because it just makes it so much clearer. This is not partisan. This guy is saying something the regime doesn't like and they're trying to put him in jail. How is this happening in America?
So, first of all, note the rhetoric. He correctly refers to the government not as Democrats, but as the regime. It is a UniParty regime, it is supported by the establishment wings of both parties there, financed by the same people. This is one of the only shows that recognize that and says so. And there you see the target. The label of this segment “Black Socialists Are Being Targeted for Speaking Out Against the Ukraine War.” The fact that only this show covered it and objected to it, while he's constantly accused of being a white supremacist, somebody who [hates] black people and views them as subhuman, he doesn't consider them as citizens – All absolutely total lies. The only evidence they ever presented is that he defends the “Great Replacement” theory, when in reality all he ever does, is recognize and point out that it's the Democratic Party and Democratic Party consultants who adopted the plan explicitly, who wrote books about this fact, that they support immigration because they regard immigration as a way to change the demographics of the country, to make sure that the Democrats will win elections forever. That's not even Tucker Carlson who came up with it. He points out that it's the Democratic strategy because they themselves say so. He's never advocated the “replacement theory” in the sense that only white Americans are real citizens. He has constantly rejected explicitly that view, and yet they lie constantly that he believes the exact view that he regularly rejects. Here he is being the only one to defend the core constitutional rights of American citizens, even when they're extreme, even when they're radical, even when they're real dissidents that no mainstream left-liberal would ever touch. This is the kind of thing that has now been eliminated from the airwaves in a way that I do not consider unrelated to the decision.
Sometimes the ability of the media to just convince people of other lies amazes me. It's scary, even though they are definitely losing their stranglehold on the flow of information. Sometimes I hear how many people believe absolute lies because the media convinced them of that. Two weeks ago, Rumble announced that it had signed two of the most popular Gen Z African American commentators on rap culture and hip-hop culture and I had heard and seen, both before the fact and after the fact, that one of their reasons for being reluctant originally to sign with Rumble is because people were telling them that is a platform owned by Donald Trump and that exists to serve the Trump movement – an absolute and complete lie but it came from the media. Rumble is a free-speech, apolitical platform that allows anyone on here to say whatever they want. It's not devoted to disseminating an ideology, and yet, the media said that lie enough times that so many people believe it.
So, the same is true of the view that Tucker Carlson privately was expressing doubt about claims of election fraud but publicly he went on Fox and affirmed those claims. In other words, he knowingly lied to his viewers. This is something that I guarantee you 90 or 95% of American liberals believe: that Tucker Carlson went on air after the election and affirmed the election fraud claims while privately admitting he thought they were false, something it would be a terrible thing to do. You'll have no integrity if you are willing to publicly tell your audience things that privately you admitted you didn't believe. The reality is the exact opposite. After the election, Tucker Carlson did the thing that I believe is the hardest thing for a journalist to do and yet is the thing that is most necessary for integrity, which is willing to tell your audience things you know, they don't want to hear, things that you know will make them angry, but tell it to them anyway because it's something you believe. Right after the 2020 election, Donald Trump was telling his followers that the voting machines were manipulated for fraud. And Tucker Carlson wanted to know whether it was true. He wasn't willing to affirm it just because he knows his audience wanted to hear it. So, he was trying to get Sidney Powell, the leading proponent of this view, to come on his show and present her evidence. He was open-minded. He kept saying, let me see the evidence. And she refused to come on his program and refused to present her evidence at any forum. And so, he went on the air and said the opposite of what 95% of American liberals believe. He told his audience that no evidence’s been presented for this and until there is, nobody should believe it. Listen to him do this on November 19, 2020.
(Video. Tucker Carlson Tonight. Nov. 19, 2020)
Tucker Carlson: Sorry, but you never sent us any evidence, despite a lot of requests, polite requests, not a page. When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her. When we checked with others around the Trump campaign, people in positions of authority, they told us Powell was never given them any evidence either, or does she provide any. Today at the press conference, Powell did say that electronic voting is dangerous, and she's right. We're with her there. But she never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately by software from one candidate to another, not one. Why are we telling you this? We're telling you this because it's true. And in the end, that's all that matters. The truth. It's our only hope. It's our best defense. And it's how we're different from them. We care what's true, and we know you care, too. That's why we told you. Maybe Sidney Powell will come forward soon with details on exactly how this happened and precisely who did it. Maybe she will. We are certainly hopeful that she will. What happened with the vote counting this month and at the polling places in Detroit and the polling places in Philadelphia and so much else actually matters? It matters no matter who you voted for. It matters whether or not you think this election is already over. Until we know the answers to those questions conclusively and we can agree on them, this country will not be united.
You tell me, when is the last time any host of CNN, any host of MSNBC, any person on NBC News or ABC News, or an op-ed writer in The New York Times and The Washington Post went on to their platforms and told their viewers exactly what they knew would most anger them as he did in that segment. It would have been so easy like other Fox hosts did, to imply or suggest or insinuate that he knew the voting machines were manipulated and that Trump was the rightful winner. He did the opposite. He said, I'm open to that possibility, but I want to see evidence for it and thus far, Sidney Powell refuses to present it. And his audience did get in angry at him. They got enraged by him. Fox lost viewers over it. They went to CNN and Newsmax, where they were affirming those things and told them what they wanted to hear. And he refused. Who else on television has done that, especially on these other networks that depict Fox as exactly what they are, which is a lockstep partisan outlet that airs no dissent?
I want to just show you a couple of things that I think are really worth considering as we try to understand what happened at Fox. As I said at the top, the Fox statement was incredibly stingy and notably ungenerous. Here is the Fox statement today. It reads:
Fox News media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.
That's about as sparse of a praise as you can get when somebody has been the top-rated personality, the face of your network for five years. It's basically like saying good luck in your future and future endeavors. And then it adds:
Mr. Carlson's last program was Friday, April 21. Fox News Tonight will air live at 8 p.m. starting this evening as an interim show helmed by rotating Fox News personalities until a new host is named.
So again, this is a very cold and acrimonious statement. To put it mildly. And while I cannot prove right now sitting here this moment that his constant criticisms of establishment Republican orthodoxy were the main reason why this separation happened, I do know for sure that the people running Fox believe in ideological precepts radically different than the one Tucker Carlson has spent the last year espousing, and he's been criticizing those with increasing virulence here.
For example, for those who like to claim that Tucker was nothing more than a Trump lackey who never criticized Trump. You probably recall that the only two times, notably, that the rest of the media was willing to praise Donald Trump was when he bombed people. He bombed Syria and killed Russian troops because of Bashar al-Assad's use of what Trump said was chemical weapons and the media applauded him. That was when people on CNN said things like, “This is the time Trump first became president.” Brian Williams, Malcolm Nance actually practically wrote a poem about the beauty of American missiles. The other time was when Trump killed one of the top Iranian generals that could have really risked a war with Iran – and most people in both parties applauded Trump for doing that. Most Republicans did, most conservatives did. Tucker was one of the few people in conservative Republican circles who criticized Trump, and he said, “I don't see why it's worth provoking a war with Iran to kill this general. Neocons want that. The Pentagon wants that. But how is it in our interest to risk a war with Iran, a country with whom are not at war by killing this general?”
You may not agree with that, but again, it demonstrates that Tucker Carlson was one of the few people on television willing to do something that requires integrity, which is criticizing the political leader that he knows most of his audience support. Even when it came to Trump, when he thought he was wrong, he was willing to say so. Here is another important point that I think there's the article from The Washington Post in which “He Bashes Sidney Powell For a Lack of Evidence. ‘She Never Sent Us Any Evidence.’” So, it wasn't just Tucker on his show, but he was causing this questioning of this fraud claim in the media to be disseminated.
But here's a really important point. As I said earlier, Fox News is run by the Murdoch family. The Murdoch family has traditionally supported standard Republican politicians, the establishment wing of the Republican Party. They're billionaires. They generally prefer a kind of billionaire's economics. And one of the members of the board of directors – there are only seven more members of the board of directors of Fox News, I believe – is Paul Ryan, the former speaker of the House, who is, in my view, one of the leading embodiments of Republican establishment politics. It's always, let's cut taxes for the corporations, let's cut taxes for the rich, let's cut social programs for the working class. He's somebody who's always been on board with standard Bush-Cheney militarism. There's not a molecule of dissent or populism in Paul Ryan's politics. And he recently gave an interview very notably to the Never Trump website, The Bulwark. That's who he goes to account for his actions. On March 1, 2020. there you see a CNN article Paul Ryan grilled for remaining on Fox’s board of directors amid fraud revelations. Here's the article.
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan was grilled last week over his decision to remain on the board of directors of Fox News’ parent company after damning court documents showed that the right-wing network knowingly peddled election lies to its audience. In the interview conducted by conservative commentator Charlie Sykes at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and posted Tuesday on The Bulwark podcast, […] (CNN. March 1, 2023).
The Bulwark is the Never Trump site, funded by Pirro Media and founded by Bill Kristol. They're Never Trump establishment Republicans that, for Paul Ryan, want to justify himself.
[…] Ryan was asked how he could associate himself with a company that is “pumping toxic sludge, racism, disinformation and attacks on democracy.”
“Do you have any responsibility?” Sykes asked.
“I do. I have a responsibility to offer my opinion and perspective and I do that, but I don't go on TV and do it, right.” So, I offer my perspective, my opinion, often, Ryan replied. I'll just leave it at that (CNN. March 1, 2023).
But then he went on, he was pressed on it and he basically said, “I don't like the direction of the conservative movement. I think Fox needs to fix this.” It was a very clear statement that Fox is allowing what Paul Ryan considers to be the bad parts of conservative ideology, namely the anti-establishment parts, the dissident parts, the populist parts, the parts aligned with Donald Trump's critique of the Republican Party to get a stranglehold in Fox News. And I absolutely regard that as a crucial clue into the thinking of Fox News leaders, as embodied by Paul Ryan, someone completely anathema to the standard Republican Party voter now. And the reason that Tucker Carlson, whose views could not be further away than Paul Ryan's but then American conservatism ended up separated in such an acrimonious way from Fox.
The last point I want to make on this before I get to AOC’s role in her censorship calls, which are really important in understanding not just that event in and of itself, but the entire dynamic that we have to look at in terms of understanding. Tucker Separation from Fox. This is not the first time the highest-rated anchor on Fox got fired. As I said, Bill Riley was removed from Fox, but that was because of sexual harassment allegations and allegations of a hostile workforce that consumed former Fox chairman Roger Ailes as well. Ailes was Bill O'Reilly's primary protector. And Bill O'Reilly's separation from Fox was due almost entirely to those kinds of scandals. But people have forgotten that in 2011, Glenn Beck was raiding records on the 5 p.m. side on Fox News, which is not even close to primetime. He had sometimes doubled the numbers as Fox News primetime host had. He was creating an audience size and creating ratings unlike what had ever been seen in Fox News history or cable news history. And he got fired at the peak of his ratings. And that was because ratings don't protect you. If the views that you're expressing become too anathema to the executives and owners of Fox News, the people who run these corporations don't want their network affiliated with views they regard as radical no matter how popular they are.
Here is a Reuters article from 2011: “Glenn Beck And Fox News And Daily TV Show.”
Glenn Beck and cable channel Fox News are ending his daily TV show after falling ratings, a loss of advertisers and a month of controversy over inflammatory remarks by the conservative U.S. host. Beck's nightly show currently draws about 1.9 million viewers, dwarfing the ratings for other cable news shows in the time slot. But audiences are down 30% from a year ago.
Some reports estimate about 300 companies have either pulled their ads or declined to run commercials on his show in the last 18 months after campaigns by black and Jewish groups. In January, several hundred rabbis called on Fox News to sanction Beck for repeated use of Nazi and Holocaust imagery and for airing attacks on World War Two survivor and financier George Soros.
“Fox News is dumping Glenn Beck because he has been rejected by Jews, by Christians and people of conscience from across the spectrum,” Simon Greer, president of Jewish Funds for Justice, said on Wednesday.
Beck, a favorite of the Tea Party political movement, has been one of the most popular voices on Fox News, culminating in a public rally in Washington last year attended by tens of thousands of Americans in a conservative show of strength.
David Brock, a spokesman for Media Matters for America, which often criticizes Fox News, said in a statement “the only surprise is that it took Fox News months to reach this decision” after he lost the support of advertisers (Reuters. April 6, 2011).
This is what I think is so important to note that when you work for a major corporation like Fox News, a major media corporation, even one that prides itself on separating itself from the standard left-liberal hegemony of CNN and NBC and The New York Times, you are very constrained in what you can say. You are controlled. You are limited in the kinds of views you can air to the point that even enormous record-setting ratings of the kind Glenn Beck had and the kind that Tucker Carlson has do not protect you. You can be free to some extent within these media corporations, but you're free only to the point that you're not. And that is why I think that we mostly believe that Tucker Carlson is going to make – and I have not talked to him about this – is that he's going to join some part of media where he can be truly independent, free even from the constraints of Fox. I, when I was at The Intercept, strongly believed I was completely free. I had a contract with them that barred them from editorially interfering in my work. Unless I requested it, I could post whatever I wanted directly to the internet. And obviously, I laughed when they violated that contractual right I had negotiated for and I had always honored, by preventing me from publishing my article on the Hunter Biden laptop and Joe Biden's candidacy right before the election, which caused me to quit. But once I quit and went to Substack, where I was truly independent, I realized that there were just certain kinds of subliminal, subtle limitations in my brain from attaching myself to a media outlet in a corporation like The Intercept. Just things that are about how other people you work with respond a couple of occasions when people come to you and say, “I don't think what you did reflects well on us. We'd like you to tone that down.” It just puts those constraints in your mind, even if you don't want to acknowledge they're there, even if you think you don't have to abide by them. And I didn't realize how liberating it was to leave until I left. And by leaving and by joining Substack and having total independence, not just theoretical independence, but genuine independence, not only was I able to speak more freely in a less constrained way, but my audience size doubled and then tripled and then quadrupled because we're at the point now where people trust only independent media. The most influential people in media are not the ones who work for and are the property of giant media corporations. Joe Rogan is 10,000 times more influential than any of the remaining hosts at CNN, MSNBC, or even Fox. None of the people at CNN or MSNBC have their own native following. If they left those corporations, they had very few people follow them. Chris Cuomo, as you might know, is on this thing called “News Nation” and he maybe gets 30,000 people a night to watch, as opposed to the 800,000 he was getting at CNN because he was a byproduct of CNN.
In Tucker's case, Fox needed Tucker a lot more than Tucker needed Fox. Just like The Intercept needed me a lot more than I need The Intercept or NBC needed Megyn Kelly a lot more than Megyn Kelly needed NBC. Media corporations would die for Joe Rogan, but he doesn't need them. Once you become independent, your influence increases the trust people have in you and the faith they place in you significantly escalates. And so, while Tucker has lost his perch on Fox, I really believe that whatever else he does, especially if it's an independent media – on Rumble or in anywhere else that is truly independent – his influence will significantly increase, unlike the vast majority of people in media who have no loyal or independent audience and who rely on that corporate brand. Tucker does not. He's one of the few who doesn't. And the fact that Fox, via Glenn Beck, has now separated from Tucker Carlson, their two most watched hosts, not despite what they're saying, but because of it, it seems, is a very powerful reason why only independent media gives people the platform like Tucker, who are real dissidents, who want to speak freely and report freely and can be immune from corporate pressures and external pressures as well. So, I hope Tucker ends up in independent media, and I strongly believe that his voice will be even more consequential there than it was at Fox News, where he was so constrained.
Now, just to underscore that point further and on its own, I think this is crucial to talk about to conclude the show, on Sunday, the day before Fox separated from Tucker Carlson – I'm not suggesting this was the reason at all, in fact, if I had to bet, I would believe it's a coincidence – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went on to this show, the new MSNBC show of Jen Psaki who was beloved by Democrats, former White House press secretary for Joe Biden – and she, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at Jen Psaki’s prodding, called for the government, the Biden administration, to ban Tucker Carlson from being allowed on television, claiming that regulations and laws prevent him from being heard. Let's listen, first of all, to what this little tyrant had to say while she was on MSNBC on Sunday.
(Video. AOC and J. Psaki on MSNBC. April 23, 2023)
Jen Psaki: This week, Fox News settled its defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million. A lot of money. It's now one of the largest media defamation settlements in history. Do you think in making this settlement, Dominion's lawyers made a mistake in not requiring Fox to acknowledge on air that it lied to its viewers?
Rep. AOC: Well, this was a corporation suing another corporation for material damages. Their job is to go in and get the most money that they can. And I think that they did that. They are not lawyers for the American public and I think it would have been best for the country, would have been to demand that and to not settle until we got that. But that is not their role. And so, for us, I think this really raises much larger questions. Very often, I believe that we leave it to the courts to solve issues that politics is really supposed to solve, that are just leading as supposed to solve. We have very real issues with what is permissible on air and we saw that with January 6. And we saw that in the lead-up to January 6 and how we navigate questions not just of freedom of speech, but also accountability for incitement of violence. This is the line that we have to really explore through law as well.
And so that is an amazing statement already, even though it's not the most offensive part. She was saying, I wish we could have gotten the full trial of the Dominion suit, but that's not Dominion's job to expose Fox and hold them accountable. We should be doing that. We, the politicians, should be using the power of the law and government to be holding Fox accountable and to make decisions about what is and is not permitted on the air. She wants the government to have that role in controlling Fox and deciding which Fox shows are not permissible. That's exactly what she just said. And if you think that that is a wrong interpretation or an exaggeration. Listen to what comes next.
(Video. AOC and J. Psaki on MSNBC. April 23, 2023)
Jen Psaki: Media organizations or social media platforms should be accountable for the role, for being platforms, for incitement?
Rep. AOC: I believe that when it comes to broadcast television, like Fox News, these are subject to federal law, federal regulation.
All right. Let me just stop there because like so much of what she says, it is not just authoritarian, but incredibly stupid and ignorant. Broadcast television is not Fox News. There are laws that apply to broadcast television because networks have a finite amount of bandwidth that the U.S. government has always doled out and in exchange they were required to agree to certain conditions on what they can and can’t say. That is not the case for cable. So, the laws that govern broadcast news have never applied to cable, which is where Fox News happens to be. So, the entire legal framework she just invoked is stupid and ignorant. Well, let's listen to what she says beyond that.
(Video. AOC and J. Psaki on MSNBC. April 23, 2023)
Rep. AOC: All for being platforms for incitement. I believe that when it comes to broadcast television, like Fox News, these are subject to to federal law, federal regulation in terms of what's allowed on air and what isn't. And when you look at what Tucker Carlson and some of these other folks on Fox do, it is very, very clearly incitement of violence. Very clearly incitement of violence. And that is the line that I think we have to be willing to contend with.
I mean, she just said it outright that the government has laws about what is and isn't permissible on television. Tucker Carlson and other folks on Fox have crossed that line and therefore, they should not be permitted on television. It's the government that has to step in and enforce these rules.
What rules is she talking about? What is she even talking about? This is what I can gather under the Supreme Court doctrine that protects the First Amendment and then extremely broad way, the only exception that the Supreme Court has recognized that is not First Amendment speech of the kind she's describing is in the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio. That was a case where a leader of the Ku Klux Klan stood up in a speech and vowed on behalf of the Ku Klux Klan that violence might become justifiable if leaders continue to act against white people. He was prosecuted on the grounds that it was terrorist speech or supporting violence, and the Supreme Court in Brandenburg rejected that prosecution, overturned it, and said that you're even allowed to advocate violence under the First Amendment. That is protected speech. That, after all, is how our revolution started, by people saying that the British crown has become so repressive that violence is justifiable. You're allowed to say, that to advocate the abstract justifiability of violence. The only thing you can't do is the imminent incitement of violence. And by that, the court means you're on the street corner with a mob gathered and you tell the mob, Go burn down that house where you're basically instructing them imminently, within the next few minutes to go and burn down that house, to go and use violence. That's the only exception the Brandenburg court carved out and she's trying to say Tucker and other Fox hosts are within that where they're imminently inciting violence because she knows – someone told her – that's the phrase you have to invoke in order to justify censorship.
When has Tucker Carlson ever imminently incited violence in his life? And the fact that she's sitting here calling on the government, the Biden administration, to ban adversary media, arguing that the only conservative network in the country should be banned by the government, makes her and the people who follow her as authoritarian and tyrannical and fascist, and whatever other clichéd words you want to use to describe that, as anyone in this country. If you are at the point where you're demanding that the government ban adversarial, opposition media, there is no faction more authoritarian than that, and no political figure is more authoritarian than her. And I just want to be clear that this is the extremely defining standard view of electoral politics in America. She has not said anything aberrational or unusual or out of the ordinary for electoral politics, which is why not a single left-liberal media figure, not a single one of her prominent followers, have stood up and objected because they agree with her. They support state corporate censorship. We just showed you this amazing video from the time that Matt Taibbi testified about the Twitter Files, which, as you recall, showed the collaboration between the U.S. Security State on the one hand, the CIA, Homeland Security and the CIA and the FBI colluding with Big Tech to censor the Internet. So, it's the classic fascist collusion of the union of State and corporate power to censor the Internet in alignment with the same goals. Many members of that committee on the Democratic side explicitly defended the corporate state censorship regime. Collin Allred, the Democrat from Texas, told Matt Taibbi that we should be grateful that the CIA and Homeland Security are working with Big Tech to censor the Internet because it's for good and they mean well. You can't get a more authoritarian mindset than that. And that's why when AOC goes on Jen Psaki’s show and looks at the only corner of the media where dissent is allowed – of the kind I showed you – and says the government should ban that media and nobody stands up to object, it's because this is now the prevailing ethos of the Democratic Party and of the mainstream left-liberal politics. They absolutely believe in censorship and censorship in unison with the corporate power of Big Tech.
The biggest irony of all – it won't surprise you to learn that AOC is a gigantic hypocrite – is that her argument for why Tucker and other shows should be banned, namely that they imminently incite violence, is an absolute lie. He never has. The person who has actually praised and incited violence is AOC herself. In 2019, she was on a podcast and she talked about the inevitability of violence coming from marginalized groups if they don't get what they want. Listen to what she said.
(Video. Rep. AOC on Hot 97)
Rep. AOC: […] that injustice is a threat to the safety of all people, because once you have a group that is marginalized and marginalized and marginalized, then you create a population. Once someone doesn't have access to clean water, they have no choice but to riot.
So, you can watch Tucker Carlson show every day for five years and you will not find anything, even in the universe of inciting violence like what she just said, which is unless you adopt my policies that I believe in for quote-unquote, “marginalized groups,” it becomes rational and inevitable for them to go and riot. That is inciting violence, if anything is. I would not call for her to be censored for that because I'm not a despot or an authoritarian, and I don't think that falls within Brandenburg, but it's way closer to when it becomes justifiable to censor than anything in the media she wants the government to censor.
Now, just to conclude, I just want to show you these two charts, which I think are two of the most important charts in politics, that shed great light on what just happened with Tucker.
Here is a Pew Poll from July, I think, it's 2022. It asked two questions and the title is “Partisan Divisions have widened over the role of government and tech firms in restricting misinformation.” One of the questions is, do you want the U.S. government, the state, to take steps to restrict false information online, even if it limits freedom of information? Sixty-five percent (65%) of people who identify as Democrats or Democrat-leaning want the state to censor the Internet in the name of stopping disinformation – 65%, the overwhelming majority of Democrats. Is it any wonder why AOC feels comfortable calling on the government to censor Fox and Fox shows when she knows that the vast majority of her party and her political faction crave that? Seventy-six percent (76%) want tech companies to censor the Internet in their name. And the gap between Democrats and Republicans who want that is 40 to 50 points.
And then, of course, here is this chart from earlier this year that finds that Democrats overwhelmingly have favorable opinions of the U.S. Security State, the FBI, the CIA, Department of Homeland Security. Only a minority of Republicans do. Majorities of Republicans harbor distrust for the FBI, the CIA and Homeland Security, whereas majorities of Democrats have favorable views of the FBI, the CIA, and Homeland Security. And this explains everything.
Tucker is one of the few programs where you can hear vehement defenses of free speech and the First Amendment, vehement critiques of the U.S. Security State. That's why they want him censored if you're in the Democratic Party, and that's why the establishment Republicans who clearly are in charge of Fox News, were happy to separate from Tucker Carlson. He no longer was espousing the ideology. The Republican establishment wants the dissent he was expressing from Republican Party orthodoxy and bipartisan neo-liberal ideology to become too extreme.
Again, I'm not claiming that that is the proximate or primary reason for the separation. There may be something that happened that we don't know about that we will find out about. But what I know for sure is that the show where the greatest dissent to bipartisan orthodoxy, including Republican Party establishment orthodoxy, was just taken off the air. And it happened one day after AOC called for the government to censor that very program. I don't think that's the reason. I don't think she has that much power – In the past, she called for Google and Apple to take Parler offline, and within 48 hours, Google and Apple obeyed. I think that there was a causal connection there. This is not the first time her censorship desires have been met. When Parler was the number one most downloaded app in the country, AOC demanded Google and Apple and then Amazon take it offline. And they did. So, I don't think there's a causal connection between her call for censorship and Fox's decision but it reveals the key dynamic, the metric, the prism through which all of this has to be understood, which is that the Democratic Party and the establishment wing of the Republican Party are very much aligned. They have differences on cultural issues like trans issues and abortion and gun control but on issues of how power is dispersed, on militarism and corporatism, they are fully in lockstep. That's why AOC and Bernie joined every Democrat and Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham and McConnell to vote for $40 billion for the war in Ukraine. The only dissent came from the right wing of the Republican Party, Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson – and maybe a couple of other shows still on Fox for now – because that is where real dissent lies. But it was Tucker, at the 8 p.m. hour with the biggest audience Fox has ever seen, continually bashing bipartisan liberal orthodoxy and the establishment ideology of the Republican Party – and whether that was the cause or not, his cancellation or his separation from Fox means that dissent is now out there.
You will not find any of those things I showed you from vehement opposition to the war in Ukraine to crusading for Julian Assange, to constant denunciations of the CIA and the FBI and Homeland Security, you will not find that anywhere else on cable news. And whether that is by design or not, we'll see who replaces Tucker. My bet is that somebody far more aligned with Sean Hannity and Paul Ryan than with Tucker Carlson or even Laura Ingraham. But we'll see. The fact is that cable news has lost its primary place for dissent. The good news is that cable is a dying medium, even Fox News with its better ratings. If you look at the overall percentage of the country that turns to cable news, it is minuscule. Joe Rogan's audience, the audience of other people in independent media is far surpassing that and will continue to. That is the part of the media that's thriving and I believe Tucker's voice will end up amplified and not diminished. But this tells us a great deal about the very severe limits of corporate media in general and Fox News in particular.
So that concludes our show for this evening. On Tuesday and Thursday nights, as a reminder, we have our aftershow on Locals, where we take your questions or respond to your feedback and your ideas about what we should cover and guests we should interview. If you want to have access exclusively to that live interactive aftershow on Locals, all you have to do is join our community. The join button is right underneath the Rumble player and that will also give you access to the transcript of each show as well as my written journalism.
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Have a great evening, everybody.