During an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Weekly Standard co-founder and political commentator Bill Kristol criticized Fox News and the network’s primetime host Tucker Carlson.
Partial transcript as follows:
KRISTOL: That’s, I think, become really a problem in the last few years. Fox was always of course somewhat conservative. But it was one thing when it was the somewhat conservative alternative to somewhat liberal MSNBC and to some degree CNN and mainstream media. I would say I was on Fox for ten years really, 2002 to 2012. Primary on “Fox News Sunday,” but did other things. I think it was pretty good. It was a little tilted right? Sure. I left in 20102 in a disagreement with Roger Ailes. Is it wrong for me to say since I left it all went downhill, but I think it did coincide? The second term of Obama a sort of ramping up —now Fox is sort of — 75 percent of it seems to be birther-like coverage of different issues. That’s been, I think, bad. And you put that together with the social media and the segmentation of everyone into bubbles, and I think there’s some truth to that criticism.
HARWOOD: Why do you think that happened on Fox?
KRISTOL: I don’t know was it happening already before Trump some? I mean I don’t know. There’s a gradual increasing of recklessness I would say. The second term of Obama, I think, was a shock. The reelection over Romney I think that was a shock to the system. That was like, ‘We’re losing our country’ for a certain chunk of Fox viewers — as opposed to, that was an unfortunate election of Obama, but the Tea Party won and we, the Republicans, won the House in 2010, checked Obama really in 2012.
HARWOOD: Did that strike you as an organic reaction to events, as opposed to a marketing decision?
KRISTOL: So I think it’s both. One other thing though the Obama administration was more left wing in 2013, the second term, than the first term. So I think things objectively changed some. The mood of Republicans changed some. And Fox News maybe saw an opportunity, changed some. I do feel now we’re in a different world. I mean, now you look at — Tucker Carlson began at The Weekly Standard. Tucker Carlson was a great young reporter. He was one of the most gifted 24-year-olds I’ve seen in the 20 years that I edited the magazine. He had always a little touch of Pat Buchananism. I would say, paleo-conservativism. But that’s very different from what he’s become now. I mean, it is close now to racism, white — I mean, I don’t know if it’s racism exactly — but ethnonationalism of some kind, let’s call it. A combination of dumbing down, as you said earlier, and stirring people’s emotions in a very unhealthy way.
HARWOOD: As someone who knows Tucker, who hired Tucker, have you talked to him about this change?
KRISTOL: (shakes head no)
UPDATE : Statement from FOX News Channel’s Tucker Carlson:
“I’m not even sure what he’s accusing me of. He offers no evidence or examples, just slurs, and then suggests that I’m the demagogue. Pretty funny. Kristol’s always welcome on my show to explain himself, though I assume he’s too afraid to come. What a shame. It would be revealing.”
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