I can always tell when Tucker Carlson has attacked me — something that he does with monotonous and mysterious regularity. And it’s not because I watch his antics. All I have to do is read my emails.
Sure enough, out of the blue on Tuesday night, I received this ungrammatical missive from some Carlson fan: “Max you stupid piece of s---t why are bald people so f---ing stupid?” Followed by this from another viewer: “Do you want to feed these uneducated illegal wet backs?” And then this from a third savant: “My Prayer is that when your Disgusting Liberal Ignorant A-- passes away that u Burn in Hell for Eternity.” And so on.
Intrigued, I went to the Fox News website to see what Carlson had said. What I found was a typical farrago of lies, half-truths, distortions and omissions. I’m not offended; I consider it an honor to be attacked by this hatemonger. But it’s worth breaking down a few of his assertions to show how Fox brainwashes its audience.
Much of his monologue consisted of over-the-top ad hominem insults that aren’t fact-checkable – e.g., “Going to [Boot] for foreign policy advice is like giving Jeffrey Dahmer a cooking show.” Really? He’s comparing me to a serial killer. Still, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan would say, Carlson is entitled to his own opinion. He’s not entitled to his own facts.
He claimed: “In the years since 9/11, Max Boot has demanded military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and North Korea and likely many other places. He has called for the U.S. to topple the Saudi monarchy.” I have never called for the United States to topple the Saudi monarchy or to attack North Korea — I have, in fact, warned against a strike on North Korea. I did in the past advocate some kind of military action in a few other countries (e.g., a no-fly zone over Syria), but more recently I have supported the Iran nuclear deal and argued that we need to accept a Bashar al-Assad victory in Syria. What Carlson did not mention was that, just like me, he supported the Iraq War before turning against it. A big omission, that.
“When Donald Trump pledged to pull Americans out of Syria,” Carlson continued, “Max Boot went crazy, just on principle. ... He never explained how keeping Americans in Syria would help the United States. Why didn’t he mention it? Because he doesn’t care.” His viewers would never know I’ve written that leaving Syria would be bad for us because it “risks a revival of the Islamic State and an expansion of Iranian power.” Instead they hear his nasty insinuation that I’m unpatriotic.
Carlson complained that U.S. military forces are “overextended”: “As of Tuesday night, we have nearly 175,000 active-duty personnel serving overseas. American troops are posted in 158 different countries.” He alleged that people like me don’t care about our borders but are “really concerned about medical care in Morocco. That’s a problem we must solve immediately. Luckily, we have Exercise African Lion. Never heard of it? You’re paying for it. In the last year, 1,100 US military personnel have participated in that exercise, all of them working to make Morocco healthier.”
Carlson didn’t inform his viewers that only 13 percent of active-duty troops are deployed abroad, the smallest number in 60 years. And almost all of them are in just three countries — Japan, Germany and South Korea — that are of great economic and strategic significance. We have all of 15 military personnel stationed in Morocco. African Lion wasn’t a do-gooder effort to improve health care. According to U.S. Africa Command, it’s an annual military exercise with regional allies designed “to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation’s tactics, techniques and procedures.” That’s an important national security objective given how many terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State operate in North Africa.
The crux of Carlson’s isolationist and nativist case is that foreign deployments mean that troops “are not on our southern border protecting us” from illegal immigrants. While hyping the supposed crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, he showed alarming footage of people removing metal barriers — taken at the Mexico-Guatemala border. “Over time, this is how countries collapse,” he warned, darkly. But I can’t think of a single country that collapsed because of excessive immigration. (The Huns weren’t seeking green cards.) This is the stuff of white-supremacist fiction — it’s not reality. The United States, like other advanced industrialized economies, could actually use more workers.
Carlson neglected to mention that the number of Border Patrol agents deployed along the southern border has tripled since 1996, to 18,600, even as the number of undocumented arrivals has plummeted. To the extent that there’s a crisis on the border, it has been caused by a recent increase in families seeking asylum. There is nothing that troops can do about that — they can’t shoot unarmed refugees who are surrendering at ports of entry.
While denouncing me for seven minutes and nine seconds — an eternity in TV time — Carlson omitted some important background information: A month ago I wrote that he should be fired for his racist, sexist and homophobic remarks, such as calling Iraqis “semiliterate primitive monkeys.” (He and I also had a heated exchange on the air in 2017.) He thereby hid from viewers a personal motive for trying to discredit me.
Sadly, Carlson’s monologue is typical of Fox’s propagandistic ways. What is truly disturbing is that so many of its viewers never question what they are told. Instead they mindlessly echo Fox’s mendacious invective. Orwell’s “1984” had the “Two Minutes Hate.” Fox’s hate lasts for hours.