Tuesday on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” shortly before his long-form interview he conducted with President Donald Trump from Helsinki after a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin aired, host Tucker Carlson reacted to Trump’s decision to backtrack on remarks he made during his press conference questioning the judgment of the U.S. intelligence community.
Carlson chalked Trump’s action up to politics but questioned why anyone should kowtow to a “community” that had gotten so much wrong over the years.
Transcript as follows:
With remarkable speed and intensity, the media, the foreign policy establishment, and both political parties have come together as one to attack Donald Trump for his meeting yesterday with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Anderson Cooper, John McCain, and Mitt Romney all described the president’s remarks about Russia as “disgraceful.” Former CIA director John Brennan called them treasonous. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer announced that Trump was being blackmailed by a foreign power. Others accused him of being a sleeper agent, a spy. One member of Congress from Tennessee called for a military coup against the presidency.
As the rage storm swirled, the president bowed to the inevitable, genuflecting before U.S. intelligence agencies, whose judgment must never be questioned, and recited the now-obligatory oath of loyalty to the spy bureaucrats now in charge of our country.
So the president buckled to criticism. It happens. This is politics. What’s amazing, and ominous, is who made him buckle. The people yelling the loudest about how the Russians are our greatest enemy, and Trump is their puppet, are the very same people who’ve been mismanaging our foreign policy for the past two decades. The people who invaded Iraq and couldn’t admit it was a mistake. The people who killed Qadaffi for no obvious reason, and prolonged the horrible Syrian civil war and threw open the borders of Europe. The ones still defending the pointless Afghan war, and even now planning brand new disasters in Lebanon, Iran and, yes, Russia. These are the people who’ve made America weaker and poorer and sadder, the group whose failures got Trump elected in the first place. You’d think by this point they would be discredited and unemployable, wearing uniforms and picking up trash by the side of a turnpike somewhere. But no. They host cable news shows. They hold positions of high influence at the state department. They run virtually every non-profit institution in Washington. They’re still in charge.
Naturally, they hate the idea of rethinking or correcting any of the countless blunders they’ve made over the years. That’s the main reason they hate Trump. Because he calls them on it. Being Trump, he can’t always explain precisely what he means to say. Sometimes he gets the details wrong or gets sidetracked with some personal vendetta. Like anybody cares about that ridiculous Jim Acosta guy. But on the big questions, Trump is indisputably right: The Cold War is over. The world has changed. It is time to rethink America’s alliances and act in our own interests for once.
Russia isn’t a close friend. But why should we consider it a mortal enemy? Of course Russia spies on us. So do many countries, some far more effectively. The Russian attempt to meddle in our election was comically amateurish: badly-targeted Facebook ads seen by almost nobody. Compare that to the deep penetration of American industry and the defense sector by the communist government of China. Or the remarkable sway the Sunni Gulf states have over our political process. Or the fact that Latin American counties are changing our election outcomes by forcing demographic change on this country at a rate American voters say they don’t want. Those are all major challenges from foreign powers to our democracy. Nobody on cable seems upset about any of it. How come? Let’s put it this way: Many in Washington are getting rich from the Chinese and the Saudis. Latin Americans clean their homes and watch their kids. Those countries can’t be our enemies. But nobody here is getting rich from Russia. Putin must be our mortal foe. That’s what the neocons are telling us we must believe.
Is anyone buying it? No sober person who’s read a newspaper this year could recite the same old neocon talking points without laughing. Their only option is to make sure you don’t think too much about it. Be quiet and do what you’re told. Consider that’s happening to Trump right now. It’s entirely possible the Russian government broke into the DNC’s servers before the last election. Sounds like something they might do. But before we act like we know for a fact that happened, and go to war with Russia over it, shouldn’t we see some actual evidence? Like a server? Or at least a clear explanation? That’s what Trump asked for. How dare he. That’s a treasonous thought. He’s a quisling. That’s what they’re saying. And not just a few of them. All of them, in unison.
Think about what they’re demanding: If you don’t automatically accept the imprecise, non-specific, never fully explained findings of shadowy intelligence agencies with long, documented track records of serious mistakes, you’ve betrayed your country. The people who assured you Iraq had weapons of mass destruction must be believed without question. Or else. On TV, they’re known as the “intelligence community,” an Orwellian name if there ever was one. Where exactly is this “community”? Does it have a zip code, a public library system, a youth football league? How long before Congress starts demanding unthinking obedience to the “the lawmaker community.” It’s a community after all. It must be obeyed. Dissent is unpatriotic. If you’d don’t agree, you’re working for Putin.
That’s where we’re headed, and fast. In some ways, this is about Donald Trump, but on a deeper level, it’s got nothing to do with him. It’s about democracy, whether or not the voters rule. It turns out the very people telling you they’re saving our democracy are working overtime to destroy it. And scolding you as they do.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor