Carlson is not the only critic of Trump’s decision, but he is one of the loudest voices on the right. And he has done so on a network that has featured some of the president’s most loyal defenders such as Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).
Despite his aversion to the strike on Iran, Carlson is no “resistance” figure. His views generally align with those of Trump, and his commentary dovetails with the president’s remarks, particularly on immigration. On Monday night, he devoted a different segment to criticizing birthright citizenship, saying “anchor babies” were “one of the many ways that America’s open borders have turned into a disaster for this country.” The term “anchor baby” refers to a child born in the United States to undocumented immigrants and to the theory that the child would make it harder for the parents to be deported.
In May, Carlson said immigrants had “plundered” the United States, a rhetorical echo of the president’s own comments that immigration from Mexico and other Central American countries constituted an “invasion.”
On Twitter on Monday, Carlson teased a series that cast San Francisco as an “American Dystopia,” after the president used the city’s homelessness crisis to attack California Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Gavin Newsom.
So when Carlson broke with Trump on the issue of Iran, viewers, critics and Twitter observers took notice.
“These anti-war segments from Tucker Carlson don’t mean he’s good now,” former Barack Obama spokesman and “Pod Save America” host Tommy Vietor tweeted. “But it’s still fascinating that this is the one of the rare times the Fox News audience will hear criticisms of Trump policies in prime time.”
“No one in Washington is in the mood for big-picture questions right now,” Carlson said on his show Friday night. “The obvious ones like, is Iran really the greatest threat we face? And who’s actually benefiting from this? And why are we continuing to ignore the decline of our own country in favor of jumping into another quagmire from which there is no obvious exit?
“It’s pretty clear that things could start to move in the wrong direction pretty quickly,” Carlson said. “We’re praying they don’t, but they could. How do we know that? Because we’ve seen it before.” He then cited the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as examples.
Carlson continued to slam Trump on escalating tensions with Iran on Tuesday, this time taking aim at Washington’s foreign policy and intelligence leaders after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made several appearances on Sunday news shows during the weekend to defend the drone strike.
“Now, suddenly, we are on the brink of war. In Washington, that is considered an upgrade, indeed a massive improvement,” Carlson said. “It’s harder to get rich and powerful in Washington during peacetime, so our leaders have a built-in bias for war.”
“It seems like about 20 minutes ago, we were denouncing these very people as the Deep State and pledging never to trust them again without verification,” Carlson said, referencing a right-wing conspiracy theory that shadowy forces within the government and intelligence community were secretly working to take down Trump.
It’s a conspiracy theory whose salient points Carlson seems to agree with — on Monday, he claimed the intelligence community “invented excuses to spy on the Trump campaign” — but he noted the hypocrisy of those who had claimed not to trust those entities and then immediately accepted the government’s justification for the Iran strike.
“Just the other day, you remember, our intel agencies were considered politically tainted and suspect,” Carlson said. “Certainly on this show they are, were and will be for some time.”
U.S.-Iran conflict updates: Iran postpones burial after dozens die in stampede during funeral procession
Joe Scarborough: Trump’s ignorance has created an international crisis