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Opinion Tucker Carlson is not a Republican

Tucker Carlson in a Fox News Channel studio in New York on March 2, 2017. (Richard Drew/AP)

Tucker Carlson is easy to mistake for a Republican. He works at Fox News, for one. He covers for President Trump time and again. Just like one of Trump’s lackeys in Congress, Carlson pooh-poohs the president’s frequent gaffes and finds ingenious ways to deflect from his bona fide scandals. Plus, he vilifies Democrats at every turn.

Mixed in with all this toeing of the party line is the occasional unorthodox blast from Carlson, as when he recently drew media attention for criticizing Trump’s decision to take out Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Some liberals expressed hope that Carlson would persuade Trump to de-escalate the tensions that arose from the strike:

In a very good column, Frank Bruni of the New York Times poked at the praise directed at Carlson for expressing his non-interventionist views:

Suddenly you’re digging him. At least a little bit. I know, I’ve seen the tweets, read the commentary, heard the chatter, detected the barely suppressed cheer: Hurrah for Tucker Carlson. If only we had more brave, principled Republicans like him.

There’s nothing principled about Carlson, as Bruni explains. His opposition to foreign adventurism is connected to his belief that the real enemy is Mexico and illegal immigration — you know, all those people who are making the United States “dirtier,” as the host claimed to great controversy in December 2018.

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Nor is he a Republican, as this blog has noted before. The D.C. Board of Elections confirms to the Erik Wemple Blog that Carlson remains a registered Democrat in the city where he resides and presides over his prime-time Fox News program. The juxtaposition establishes one of the starkest examples of hypocrisy in all of cable news. Look, for example, at how Carlson referred to Democrats in May 2018:

In the last year-and-a-half, the Democratic Party has doubled down on every behavior that got Trump elected in the first place. They routinely vilify tens of millions of Americans based on how they look, they prefer illegal immigrants to US citizens. At this point, they don’t even hide that preference. They’re open about it.
In schools and sports and the military, they denounce the idea of biological differences between men and women. That’s something that every culture from Ancient Egypt till about 20 minutes ago understood perfectly well because it’s demonstrable. They don’t recognize it anymore. ... Whatever else he’s done, Trump has driven the Democratic Party off the deep end. They not only hate him, but the country that elected him and it’s starting to show in the polls

In February 2019, he chided the Democrats for not being sufficiently excited about President Trump’s boast that the United States had become a net exporter of energy. “I heard Chuck Schumer talk about it. I heard lots of Democrats. We have to get off the Middle Eastern oil dependency that’s forcing us to finance terrorism. They said that. We’ve done it, they hate it, and I just think, like, are they really rooting for the country at this point?”

That same month, he attacked Democratic lawmakers with a similar slander: “Just this week, four freshman Democrats in the House co-signed a letter demanding lower funding for America’s border enforcement,” said Carlson. “In other words, it is virtuous to protect others. It is wrong to protect ourselves and our own children. What’s the name for that attitude? Well, self-hatred would be one. Should people who hate the country be in charge of it?”

And in October, he unleashed this bit of campaign-trail analysis: “Every day, Democrats on the campaign trail are slamming a place as racist, evil. Maybe irredeemable,” said Carlson. “What place is that? Our country. Now some party leaders are asking the obvious questions. What if voters don’t hate America as much as they do?”

Carlson has claimed he’s a registered Democrat because he lives in D.C., which is predominantly Democratic and has closed primaries. “It’s a one-party state and the one election I always vote in is the mayor’s race because it matters,” he said in 2017.

In other words, Carlson’s registration aligns not with principles but with expediencies. He goes along with the crowd, which is a strange posture for a guy who each night declares that "Tucker Carlson Tonight is the "sworn enemy of lying, pomposity, smugness and groupthink.”

We asked Bruni if he’d gotten a correction request from Carlson. No, came the reply. We also asked Carlson how he could bear to remain in the same party as so many people who, in his judgment, hate the country. We’ll update this post with any response.

In the meantime, we’ll conclude with the only comment that matters when it comes to understanding Carlson’s thinking at any given time, from his speech at a conference last summer: “The temptation in my politics — and my politics are evolving, although I don’t even have politics, I just have reactions to things, as you can tell."

Tucker Carlson’s criticism of the strike that lead to Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani’s death isn’t the first time he’s expressed anti-interventionist views. (Video: The Washington Post)

Read more from Erik Wemple:

Tucker Carlson said immigration makes America ‘dirtier.’ So an advertiser took action.

Registered Democrat Tucker Carlson: Democrats are ‘actively against America’

Please don’t be fooled by Tucker Carlson

Does Tucker Carlson’s audience know he’s taking them for fools?

Tucker Carlson: Washington Post ‘noticed’ the story that it broke on Joe Biden