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"They're all afraid"

Interview conducted by Urs Gehriger for Die Weltwoche (original here) on September 9, 2023

When Tucker Carlson departed the Fox News Channel in April, his enemies cheered. But if they thought the happy warrior had finally been defeated, their judgment was as dismal as their approval ratings. With an assist from Elon Musk, Carlson is reaching an even larger, global audience with his new show, "Tucker Carlson on Twitter (now known as 'X')."

The veteran newscaster has expanded his mission: to defeat the mainstream media's suffocating bias and incuriosity not just about critical events at home but in capitals around the world.

When we reach him, Carlson has just returned from the United Arab Emirates where he met with its president, Mohamed bin Zayed. Carlson pronounces the sheikh "the most interesting, wisest leader I've ever spoken to" -- a provocative assessment given that the talk show host sat across from Donald J. Trump last month. Of the Arab leader, Carlson enthuses, "I've never met a more humble leader, ever -- and I believe humility is a prerequisite for wisdom."

Carlson is far less kind about his colleagues in the press. "They're all fearful people," the 54-year-old scoffs. Instead of holding the powerful to account, "they do exactly the opposite." Indeed, "they do their bidding."

Looking ahead to the Presidential elections in 2024, he says: "They're trying to put Trump in prison for the crime of running against Joe Biden ... That's what this election's about. Are we going to allow that, or aren't we? And I just don't think we can."

Weltwoche: Since leaving Fox and going solo with your new show, "Tucker Carlson On Twitter (now known as 'X')," your posts have logged tens and sometimes hundreds of millions of views. You're taking off like Buzz Lightyear. Are you feeling the freedom? To explore more topics and ideas? To express your views?

Tucker Carlson: Well, definitely. If anything, I've expressed my views less. I haven't done many straight-to-camera scripts where I write the script and give my opinion. I've done what I've wanted to do for a long time but couldn't, which is get on an airplane and go see the rest of the world. I couldn't because I had a daily show I had to do.

I've become convinced over the past several years -- particularly since the war in Ukraine began -- that the world is changing much more quickly than most Americans understand. And because there's virtually no coverage of the rest of the world in American media, Americans don't have a good sense of it.

What we, in this country, refer to as the "Post-War Order" -- the institutions set up in the wake of World War II to keep the world peaceful and prosperous and the United States at the top of the pyramid, and that would include the dominance of the dollar, the SWIFT system, NATO -- all of that appears to me to be crumbling. That's my view of it. I've wanted to travel and see if that is, in fact, happening -- and it is.

Weltwoche: You travel the world, now, more than ever. What personality, globally, fascinates you in particular?

Carlson: I think, right now, the most interesting, wisest leader I've ever spoken to is the ruler of Abu Dhabi, MBZ. [Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, popularly known by his initials as MBZ, is president of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Abu Dhabi.] I respect [him].

Weltwoche: You have just flown back to the US from Abu Dhabi?

Carlson: Yes, and I spoke to him. I've interviewed a lot of people who run countries or organizations. I've interviewed a lot of leaders in, well, thirty years. That's been my job. And I've never interviewed anybody in charge of anything [who is] more willing to admit when he doesn't understand something or have any answer to a question. I've never met a more humble leader, ever, and I believe humility is a prerequisite for wisdom.

Wise people admit what they don't know, and I've never seen that before. You don't see that in the West. You're not going to interview a presidential candidate in the United States, or a president, for that matter, who's willing to say, "I don't know the answer. I've thought about it, and I'm not sure." They'll never say that, because you can't admit you don't know.

Of course, the scope of human knowledge is very limited. We don't know anything, actually. We don't know how the brain works or how the pyramids were built. The list of things we don't know is far longer than the list of things we do, and no one will admit that. The people who do, who are willing to say that out loud, are the ones who I trust. So, I was very impressed. I've never been more impressed by a leader.

But there are a lot of interesting people from around the world. Javier Milei, I thought, was an interesting guy. [Javier Gerardo Milei is an Argentine economist and politician known for his libertarian views. He is leading in the polls for the next presidential election.]

Weltwoche: Let's have a brief look back to your many years with Fox where you became a global media star, ranking number one with "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on cable news. During a recent episode of your show on "X," you said: "The Murdochs never got in my way. They were always good to me. But there were always small minded. ... It's a company run by fearful women, you know what I mean?" What do you mean?

Carlson: Well, I spent fourteen years at Fox and, most of the time, I was working on my own business. I had no role in managing the company -- far from it. I was just an employee. So, there are a lot of things about how the company runs that I wouldn't know about.

In my experience, the family that owns, that controls the company, the Murdochs, were always very gentlemanly to me. Very polite, nice, gave me huge latitude. I often, or sometimes, felt that they disagreed with what I was saying, that my views were different from theirs. But they let me express my views, and I was grateful for that. I am grateful for that. I never had a problem with them, and I don't have a problem with them, now. I'd disagree with them on certain things, but I'll always be grateful for the chances they gave me and the kindness they showed to me.

There are a lot of great people at Fox News, but there are also a lot of people who are just terrified, who are just trying to make it through the day. And I don't think they make Xanax strong enough for some of the people who run the place to calm down. [laughter]

I meant what I said. I've worked at a lot of news organizations in the United States, and they're all the same. They're all afraid of getting sued or yelled at or fired or humiliated. But interestingly, none of them are very afraid of getting things wrong. That's not a concern. They're not worried about accuracy as much as they're worried about being unfashionable or saying something forbidden. What they're really worried about is telling the truth.

You'd think that if you ran a news organization, your main concern would be getting it right and that you'd be terrified if someone would make a mistake. But that's not their top concern. And not just at Fox. I worked at MSNBC and CNN. I worked at PBS. I spent a year working at ABC. I've certainly been around a lot of news companies, and they're all the same. They're all fearful people who are making more than they probably should be, and they're worried about losing their jobs. Occasionally, you'll find a courageous person, but they are very, very, very rare. Very rare.

Weltwoche: The media as the "fourth estate" has a serious credibility problem, not just in the US. Here, it's the same. The only national news organization in the US that scores the majority of the public's trust is, according to YouGov [May 2023], The Weather Channel.

Carlson: Yes.




They're trying to put Trump in prison for the crime of running against Joe Biden ... That's what this election's about.

Weltwoche: Half of the American public believes that the news media deliberately attempts to mislead, misinform, and propagandize [Gallup, February 2023]. You've been in the news for so long. Why is the state of the media so miserable?

Carlson: Well, because if you want to subvert a democracy, you need to control the information that citizens receive. I'd argue that the news media in democracies is far less trustworthy than it is in other countries simply because it matters more in a democracy. People vote on the basis of the information they have. So, if you want to control their votes, you have to control what they know.

There has been a very aggressive attempt, over a number of decades on the part of the people who run the United States, to control what's available on our news stations and in our newspapers -- to control the news media. And they have.

Weltwoche: The people working for news media seem to go along with it.

Carlson: Of course they do, because they're terrified. They're just afraid. They go along with it, absolutely. They're afraid to say something that will offend the people who run the government, who run the biggest companies and, most of the time, they won't. And that's not just a perversion of what they should be doing, it's an inversion. They exist to hold the people in power accountable. Instead, they do exactly the opposite. They do their bidding.

For example, they roll out this vaccine in the United States. It has massive consequences for the population. Hundreds of millions of people take it, and no reporting on that vaccine -- no real reporting -- is allowed. People are, literally, fired from their jobs if they'd question the efficacy and the safety of that vaccine. That's insane. In a functioning democracy, if you had a mandatory drug where everyone's required to take it, the news media's job would be to report out whether or not it's safe and whether or not it works. They did just the opposite.

Even the war in Ukraine. This is potentially a nuclear conflict between superpowers. Shouldn't we know all that we can? "No." You're not allowed.

I tried to interview Vladimir Putin, and the US government stopped me. So, think about that for a minute. By the way, nobody defended me. I don't think there was anybody in the news media who said, "Wait a second. I may not like this guy, but he has a right to interview anyone he wants, and we have a right to hear what Putin says." You're not allowed to hear Putin's voice. Because why? There was no vote on it. No one asked me. I'm 54 years old. I've paid my taxes and followed the law.

I'm an American citizen. I'm a much more loyal American than, say, Joe Biden or Kamala Harris, who didn't even grow up in this country; she grew up in Canada. And they're telling me what it is to be a loyal American? I'm just not even interested, at this point. I don't even care. When David Frum [a staff writer for The Atlantic magazine] from Canada gets to tell me that I'm a disloyal American, it's a joke. It's a joke. And I don't care what they think, actually, anymore. And I don't have to care. So, I don't.

I tried to interview Vladimir Putin, and the US government stopped me. So, think about that for a minute. By the way, nobody defended me.

Weltwoche: The high ratings your show is getting demonstrate that you raise a voice that people want to hear. One such example of media manipulation is the media suppression and dismissal of Hunter Biden's laptop. You have studied the infamous "laptop from hell." So have we, at Weltwoche, since the spring of last year. You have profound knowledge about the Biden business network. You were the first to interview the Biden business insider, Tony Bobulinski, in October 2020. From what you have seen, would you conclude that Joe Biden knew about his son's business? That he facilitated it? And that he might have profited, himself?

Carlson: Well, those aren't opinions. That's factually established. We interviewed Devon Archer [Hunter Biden's longtime close business partner and friend] last month, who, on dozens of occasions at business meetings, watched Joe Biden call his son Hunter during a business meeting. His son put him on speakerphone while Joe Biden was vice president of the United States in order to help his son's business. By the way, the business, the so-called "business," consisted wholly of being Joe Biden's son. Hunter Biden had no expertise in energy. He knew nothing about Ukrainian gas. It's a joke that he didn't know. He had no relevant experience in, or knowledge of, any of the so-called "businesses" he ran.

He was purely selling access to his father. It's not speculation. That's what his business partner said, on the record, on camera. Yes, there's no debate about that. That's a fact.

I guess the media hate Trump so much or are profiting in some way, I suppose, from Joe Biden being president that they feel they'd have to lie about it. But they're lying, period.

Weltwoche: Another story that has raised zero curiosity among the DC press is the allegation, reportedly made by his own daughter, Ashley, in her private diary, that Joe Biden may have behaved toward her in a way that she describes as "probably not appropriate" when she was a young girl. Hunter gave his dad the alias "Pedo Peter" in his cell phone contact list. I assume that in America "Pedo Peter" is an unusual term of address for one's father. Why has the press shown so little interest in investigating these disturbing details, especially in the post-#MeToo era?

Carlson: Well, [Ashley] said it in her diary, whose only audience was herself. She didn't allege it. She recorded it: that her father took showers with her as a child and, because he did, she became a sex addict. That's what she wrote in her diary. The response from the Biden administration was to get the Department of Justice to raid the home of the man who had the diary, arrest the people who had the diary though they didn't steal it, they paid for it. Ashley Biden left it behind in a house she'd been renting, and they never said anything about it.

That's a sex crime. I have three daughters. I can promise you it's not normal for a father to shower with his daughters. [Ashley] said, in her diary, "I think I have a sex addiction because my father showered with me." That's what she says.

By the way, Joe Biden has dementia and is not running the United States. So, that raises the obvious question: "Who is?"

Weltwoche: Who is?

Carlson: I would assume Barack Obama through his cutouts who work for Joe Biden. But I don't know that. The New York Times hasn't bothered to report on it, but Joe Biden has dementia. He's not capable of speaking a complete sentence much less running the largest organization in human history, which is the US government. The whole premise is ridiculous, and now they're telling us? He's 80 years old. He can barely speak. He can barely walk. And he's going to run, again, for president of the United States while there's a war going on? The whole thing is so demented that we're moving to the point where they're not trying to convince anybody. They're just trying to suppress and arrest people who ask questions. They've arrested dozens of people, of political opponents, not for committing crimes, but for opposing them in the past month. Dozens in the past month.

Our system is collapsing in real time. We're watching this happen. If you read the American media, it's stories about Kim Kardashian and lots of irrelevant crap about trannies and all this stuff. The bottom line is the president of the United States is non compos mentis.

Who is running the government? If you can't answer that question, you're not doing your job in the media, it would seem to me. Whatever.

Weltwoche: You landed a great scoop with your interview with former President Donald Trump, which went on the air just as the Republican candidates were holding their first debate on your previous channel, Fox. Back in 2018, when you and I first met for an interview, Trump had been in office for almost two years. And you told me your assessment that, at that juncture, "Trump is not capable"as US president. You referenced the border -- he didn't build the wall enough -- as an example. If Trump succeeds in making a triumphant return to the White House, do you think he can be effective?

Carlson: No. Of course, I don't know. I'd merely be speculating. I think his first term as president proved it's pretty hard to run an organization, millions of people, when most of them are paid to oppose you, which they are. There are unionized federal

employees whose jobs depend on the other party. So, the system, itself, is pretty difficult for someone who seeks to reform the system.

At this point, however, they're trying to put Trump in prison for the crime of running against Joe Biden. I'm just speaking in my capacity as a voter. That's all I need to know.

Do I think if Trump were to take over, tomorrow, that he would make the CIA accountable to voters? No, I don't. Do I think he'd build a wall? I don't know. I hope so.

I know that you cannot allow, you absolutely cannot allow a political party to use our system of justice to imprison the president's chief opponent. You can't do that. That's just absolutely not allowed.

From my perspective, that's what this election's about. Are we going to allow that, or aren't we? And I just don't think we can.

Weltwoche: Your fellow journalists can't stop criticizing you. They call your reporting "pro-Russian" or "pro-Trump." Recently, you took a lot of heat for your Larry Sinclair interview where he talked about [conducting] an alleged gay affair with Barack Obama. [Sinclair, a convicted con artist, claims that he saw former United States President Barack Obama smoking crack before engaging in sexual activities with him in 1999 when Obama was a state senator.] While it's true that his claims were never pursued by an Obama-besotted press, are you concerned that the one-on-one, interview format of your online show limits your ability to fully investigate the truth of your guests' claims of fact?

Carlson: Oh, sure, of course. I've been doing one-on-one interviews on television for 25 years.

Weltwoche: You had a big team at the time when you did those interviews.

Carlson: Well, they still work for me. I have the same team. [laughs] Yes, I have exactly the same team. In fact, they're coming over for dinner in just a minute.

I think Larry Sinclair has been attacked. He was arrested, at one point. He was dismissed as "non-credible." This has been going on for fifteen years. People have been attacking Larry Sinclair or dismissing him. My view was, "I'm the balance, I guess. Why don't we get to hear from Larry Sinclair? Okay, here's Larry Sinclair. You can make up your own mind as to what you think about him."

In other words, liars, proven liars like Ben Smith, at Politico at the time, were able to get out there and tell us that everything Larry Sinclair said was false. Okay, that's Ben Smith's position. Here's Larry Sinclair's position. It seems like I'm the balance, as far as I'm concerned. Does that make sense?

Weltwoche: Some critics ask, "Is airing Larry Sinclair's personal recollections any different from Christine Blasey Ford's accusations against Brent Kavanaugh?"

Carlson: Well, it's very different. I think it's different in its particulars. It's very different. But I also think Larry Sinclair has the right to... Larry Sinclair, in my view, in a very credible way, said he had sex with Barack Obama. Since we're so fanatically pro-gay, now, and everything gay is good, why is that bad? "Obama likes dudes." Why is that an attack on Obama? Do you know what I mean? Like, am I the only non-homophobe, here?

It seems obvious to me that Obama likes dudes. He told his girlfriend that. Alex McNear [who was romantically involved with Obama during his brief time at Occidental College] is a distant cousin of mine, by the way. And Obama told her, "I fantasize about having sex with men." I guess it's a little strange to think that saying that out loud is somehow an attack. I don't know why it would be. I thought we're supposed to like dudes. [laughs] I can't keep up.

Weltwoche: Tucker, you've made a remarkable journey. Over the years, you've changed your mind about big issues, important issues, like the invasion of Iraq.

Carlson: Oh, yes.

Weltwoche: And you went public about it. Very few journalists are willing to admit to a typo, let alone make a serious course correction. Is there an issue, right now, that you're reconsidering, taking a second look at? A previously held position that is currently under review?

Carlson: Oh, I changed my mind like every issue. [laughs] I'm constantly changing my mind about things. Constantly. Gosh, there are a lot of issues that I'm not sure I fully understand. [Artificial Intelligence], for example. I'm very worried that AI's going to destroy the world and become autonomous. But will it? I don't know. I guess, other than a gut-level concern, I don't have a very smart view of AI.

There are lots of issues, like that, that I'm trying to figure out. Thankfully, I don't have to have an opinion on everything. I'm old enough that I'm happy to admit when I don't know the answer to something.

I'll tell you this: My view that the war in Ukraine imperils Western civilization has gotten stronger with time, not weaker. I feel that way. I thought it, before. Now, I really think it. There are lots of things I have worried about in the past that have turned out to be not worth worrying about. I was just in the Middle East, yesterday, and I was thinking I first went to the Gulf in 2001, right after 9/11, and we were completely convinced -- I was completely convinced -- that we were looking at the beginning of a 500 year war against Islam, the West versus Islam. And that's not the way it turned out at all, actually.

The Gulf Arabs that I've dealt with, over the years, are far more tolerant than your average white, secular liberal in America -- far more tolerant. They have a bigger and more Christian Christmas celebration in Abu Dhabi than we have in New York.

Weltwoche: In general, what gives you hope in a rather worrisome time, looking into the future?

Carlson: That the stakes have suddenly gotten so high that smart people are rethinking their assumptions. I see it all around me. I see people all around me asking themselves, "I used to believe this. Is it still true? Was it ever true? What is the truth?" People are focused on questions of truth and falsehood, I think, much more deeply than they ever have been, and that's a good thing.

I also see an awakening of spiritual awareness and religious faith in the United States that I think is great. Not everyone is reaching the same conclusions that I'm reaching, but that's okay. It's better than thinking that Amazon's going to make you happy, because Amazon is not going to make you happy, actually. That's not true. That's a lie. And more and more people seem to be concluding that it's a lie, and I think that's a great thing.

There's this idea that somehow the main threat to our happiness is from religious people. That's absurd. The main threat to our happiness is from people who think they're God. They're the dangerous ones. If you think that you're God, there's no limit to what you'll do because you think you're the final arbiter, you're the final judge, you're all-powerful. That's terrifying.

I'm much more comfortable around religious people. I'm a Christian, but they don't have to share my views. As I just said, I was actually meeting with some people the other day. There was a call to prayer right in the middle of our meeting, and everyone got up and got on their knees and faced toward Mecca and worshiped Allah. Twenty years ago, I would've thought, "Oh my gosh, how threatening!" Now, I thought, "How wonderful. How great is that?"

Weltwoche: When are you coming back to Switzerland? I know it might be boring, here. You told me there's nothing to report on. But it'd be nice to have you over.

Carlson: I love that. I love a boring country. You've got the last boring country in the West.

Weltwoche: Switzerland is changing, too.

Carlson: I know, it's true. But at least it's beautiful. If you have inspiring physical beauty, it's kind of hard to take the mountains away. I hope Switzerland stays exactly the same. The second the American empire collapses, you will get the bank secrecy back.

By the way, secrecy does not imply wrongdoing. Privacy is a prerequisite for freedom. I have a lock at my bedroom. It doesn't mean I do anything illegal in my bedroom. I am not a slave; I am a citizen. I can have privacy.


I love that. I love a boring country. You've got the last boring country in the West.

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