Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday delivered an unusual defense of White House senior adviser Stephen K. Bannon, which he summarized in the following graphic:

Carlson was responding to a USA Today editorial that argued “Steve Bannon and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi share similar world views.” Carlson invited USA Today deputy editorial page editor David Mastio onto his prime-time program to discuss it.

The list of awful things that Bannon hasn't done was accurate — but beside the point. The USA Today editorial didn't suggest that the former Breitbart chairman is a terrorist on par with Baghdadi; it made a specific comparison between the two men's “visions of a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West.”

Here's part of Carlson's exchange with Mastio:

CARLSON: I get that you don't like Steve Bannon — totally legitimate, problems with Steve Bannon — I understand. But comparing him to the head of ISIS? Over the top, no?
MASTIO: No. The problem with Steve Bannon is that he shares a dangerous idea that plays right into the hands of al-Baghdadi. Al-Baghdadi wants the war in the Middle East to be between all of Islam and all of the West. We are at war with a psychotic death cult, a fringe of the Islamic world.
MASTIO: And Bannon agrees with al-Baghdadi that it is a war between Islam and the West. We don't need to give al-Baghdadi that propaganda victory. And when the strategic adviser, the strategic leader of the White House, bumbles into giving a strategic victory to our enemies, that's a really big deal.
CARLSON: Okay. I guess there's couple of obvious points. One: Presumably al-Baghdadi is talking about a literal war. Indeed he is waging one, whereas Bannon is talking about some sort of a metaphorical war because he hasn't, as previously noted, done the things we've listed on the screen. He hasn't actually committed any atrocities al-Baghdadi has. Therefore, it's an entirely different scale.

The scale is different. But, again, Carlson argued against a point that the USA Today editorial board never made. The newspaper did not say Bannon and Baghdadi are similar in their actions; it said they are similar in the way they see the world.

What's more, Carlson's contention that it is “out of bounds” to compare Bannon to the leader of the Islamic State is inconsistent with the host's defense in August of then-candidate Donald Trump's assertion that then-president Barack Obama is the “founder of ISIS.” At the time, Carlson conceded that Trump “should speak more precisely” but said it was “too unfair” for the media to take Trump's remark literally.

Nevermind that Trump insisted he was speaking literally. When conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt suggested in an interview that Trump must have “meant that [Obama] created the vacuum” that allowed the Islamic State to flourish, the billionaire replied, “No. I meant he's the founder of ISIS. I do.”

By Carlson's standard, the press should have lightened up when Trump accused Obama of founding the Islamic State, but USA Today was over the line when it wrote that Bannon and Baghdadi see the world in similar ways. That just doesn't make sense.