Carlson said he cannot stand Trump’s self-aggrandizement and boasting. Then, when asked whether Trump has kept his promises, the usually quick-witted and long-winded Carlson had just one word: “No.”
Although it has a variety of voices, Fox News Channel has become the outlet often aligned with the current administration, at least in prime time.
Hosts such as Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro have taken near-unequivocal positions in support of Trump and against “the liberal left.” Hannity has even joined Trump on the campaign stage.
Carlson is often a measured Trump supporter, but Tuesday’s interview was not his first verbal lashing of the president; he called Trump’s attacks on then-attorney general Jeff Sessions, following his recusal from the Russia investigation, a “useless, self-destructive act.”
This week, he continued to disparage the president when Gehriger probed for more.
“His chief promises were that he would build the wall, defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare, and he hasn’t done any of those things,” Carlson said, adding that those goals were probably lost causes. Trump, he said, doesn’t understand the system, and his own agencies don’t support him.
“He knows very little about the legislative process, hasn’t learned anything, hasn’t surrounded himself with people that can get it done, hasn’t done all the things you need to do, so it’s mostly his fault that he hasn’t achieved those things,” he added.
Carlson has come to believe that Trump’s role is not as a conventional president who promises to achieve certain things and then does. Instead, it’s to “begin the conversation about what actually matters.”
For the Fox News host, that issue is immigration.
The Washington Post’s Philip Bump previously reported that since taking over the prime-time slot left vacant by Greta Van Susteren when she departed the network shortly before the 2016 election, Carlson has been “a fervent advocate for Trump’s hard-right position on immigration.”
The interview, which ran 45 minutes past its allotted time, covered wide-ranging discussion points, some as striking as Carlson’s outspoken comments about the president.
For starters, he called Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her socialist group “the future.” He also criticized the Republican Party, suggesting that it “will die” if it doesn’t begin to fairly represent middle-class American voters.
“The elite in our country is physically separated in a way that’s very unhealthy for a democracy,” he said. Rural America is “really falling apart,” he added, noting that “if you’re running the country, you should have a sense of that."
Gehriger said Carlson sounded like a “renegade.”
“He was so tough” on Trump, he told The Post. “He was nobody’s cheerleader. For a person who is so successful on Fox News, I didn’t expect him to be so outspoken."