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Tucker Carlson, Trump’s shadow diplomat – POLITICO

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BRUSSELS — Donald Trump plans to nominate Tucker Carlson as vice president if he wins another term as president of the United States. But Carlson, the former Fox News reporter and polemicist, looks more like he’s auditioning to become Trump’s top international diplomat.

Since his ouster from cable television, Carlson has been touring the world with his new show X and his interviews with the Argentine channel Javier Milei And Viktor Orbán of Hungary have racked up hundreds of millions of views.

But Carlson also engages in a kind of shadow diplomacy.

In early November he appeared in London visit Julian Assange at Belmarsh Prison. Eleven days later, Carlson was spotted on the streets of Madridalongside Santiago Abascal, leader of the Spanish far-right party Vox, among demonstrators against the amnesty of Catalan separatists.

“Your politics are complicated for an American,” Carlson told Spanish newspaper El Confidencial. “I want to understand it and try to explain it.”

This week, Carlson released an episode of his the murder of three children and an after-school teacher outside a primary school in the heart of the Irish capital. Carlson claimed that the Irish government is “trying to replace the Irish population with people from the third world.”

He even took it upon himself to apologize for the behavior of the American ambassador to Hungary during his trip to Budapest in August. David Pressman, the current US envoy, is a human rights lawyer who has made no secret of the fact that he is raising two children with a male partner in a country that seeks to ban the broadcast of LGBTQ+ content to minors.

“It makes me extremely embarrassed and sad as an American,” Carlson told the Hungarian Conservative. Accusing Pressman of trying to impose his “bizarre sexual politics” on Hungarians, Carlson added: “I want to say I’m sorry. »

Return to Budapest

August was not Carlson’s first trip to Hungary. His constant camaraderie with Orbán could be an important factor in his current status as a freelancer.

Carlson’s prime-time Fox show aired from Budapest for a week in 2021, during which he interviewed the prime minister and took a helicopter to observe a fence preventing migrants from crossing the Hungarian border.

According to a new book by former CNN reporter Brian Stelter, Fox executives had not authorized Carlson’s week-long mission there, and the flirtation with authoritarianism may have been a contributing factor. his dismissal. (There was also Carlson’s role in the defamation lawsuit that cost Fox $787 million over on-air lies that the 2020 US election was stolen.)

A few months after his ouster in April, Carlson was back in Budapest, interviewing Orbán for his show festival organized by the government-backed think tank MCC.

Participants wave an American flag during Tucker Carlson’s speech at MCC Feszt | Janos Kummer/Getty Images

Carlson’s Fox show challenged the conventional wisdom that “American consumers don’t care about the rest of the world,” he told the audience.

After successful episodes filmed in countries like Finland, El Salvador and Hungary, Carlson said he plans to continue traveling. “The world is completely resetting,” he said, adding that the post-war order, including NATO, is collapsing.

Carlson attributed his own interest in the world to “my father’s work.” Richard Carlson was a foreign correspondent and diplomat in the George W. Bush administration before becoming a lobbyist. As the New York Times reported, the elder Carlson was on the board of directors of a lobbying firm hired in Washington to help restore Budapest’s reputation, although he did not appear to play a role in media coverage of the affair.

Tucker Carlson could not be reached for comment for this article.

“The megaestrelle”

Besides his interview with Trump — timed just as Trump’s rivals for the Republican presidential nomination were holding their first debate — the biggest journalistic coup for Carlson’s X-wire was his sit with Milei in Buenos Aires. Posted a month before the radical libertarian economist won 56 percent of the vote in Argentina, the video now has more than 425 million views.

This number certainly wasn’t just about curious Americans. A recent analysis by the Bogota office of the Spanish-language news service EFE found that Carlson’s statements often make the jump to Spanish-language media. public and go viral. This includes his comments on the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, his concerns about vaccine safety, and his claims that Brazil’s 2022 election was stolen from Jair Bolsonaro.

It is unclear whether this influence applies to Spanish speakers in Europe. But when Carlson showed up in Madrid – a visit organized by the Vox-linked Disenso Foundation, according to a party spokesperson – Spanish experts were ready to provide context to their audience: “For the ignorant,” said explained a columnist from República. “Tucker is America’s most influential commentator.”

Sánchez’s agreement with the Catalan independence party Junts to grant amnesty to separatists if they helped him stay in government sparked widespread outcry, and Carlson helped spread the outrage.

“Anyone who would violate the (Spanish) constitution… to end democracy is a tyrant, a dictator. And this is happening in the middle of Europe,” Carlson told OKDiario, which called him a “megastar” in a splashy headline.

Carlson’s mere appearance in Spain seems to have caused more of a stir than the interview he was there to do with Vox’s Abascal. Unlike Trump, Miliei or Orbán, Abascal’s political fortunes have plummeted since the far-right party was founded in 2018: he lost half a million votes and 19 seats in this year’s parliamentary elections. Pablo Simón, a political scientist at Carlos III University in Madrid, questioned whether the party really fit the Carlson brand.

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Santiago Abascal of Vox was interviewed by Carlson | Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images

Vox “failed to use the message that worked in other parts of the world – opposition to the 2030 Agenda, Soros – to move forward in Spain,” Simón said.

Although the audience for Abascal’s interview pales in comparison to that of other right-wing titans, Carlson appears to be drawing attention to the cause. Days after he posted the interview, along with a list of timestamps for highlights of the discussion including “George Soros,” “Spain’s Low Birth Rate” and “Censorship in Spain,” she received an important answer.

“Lots of interesting topics” said Elon Musk.

Aitor Hernández-Morales contributed reporting from Pamplona, ​​Spain, and Claudia Chiappa from Brussels.


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