Former Fox News personality Tucker Carlson has privately said he “passionately” hates Donald Trump. He has described him as a “demonic force” and a “destroyer” that he “can’t wait” to ignore. Carlson says he plans to vote for him in 2024.
On Thursday, he told Roseanne Barr on her podcast that he has “always agreed” with Mr Trump’s policies but became an “active Trump supporter” following the law enforcement search of his Mar-a-Lago estate last summer.
“That can’t stand. I agree with Trump on a lot, but even if I disagreed with Trump on a lot, I’d still be a Trump supporter because you cannot allow that,” he said.
He accused President Joe Biden’s “regime” of using the US Department of Justice “to knock the front runner out of the race.”
“So I’m voting for Trump. If they convict him, I will send him the max donations and I will lead protests,” Carlson said.
Top personalities, executives and producers at Fox News privately condemned “reckless” claims from election fraud conspiracy theorists they dismissed as “crazy” and “insane,” according to filings in a lawsuit from voting machines company Dominion Voting Systems.
But the network repeatedly aired those claims on some of the most-watched cable news programmes in the country, amplifying bogus statements about the 2020 presidential election.
In April, Fox admitted that statements on its airwaves about Dominion were false and agreed to pay Dominion more than $787m in a settlement that averted one of the biggest-ever defamation trials in American history. Days later, Carlson and the network “agreed to part ways”.
Days before the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, 2021, an attack fuelled by Mr Trump’s bogus election claims, Carlson texted with a Fox employee to say that he “can’t wait” to stop covering the soon-to-be former president.
“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights,” he wrote on 4 January, according to court documents. “I truly can’t wait.”
He added: “I hate him passionately.”
“We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest,” he said. “But come on. There really isn’t an upside to Trump.”
In a text to his producer about the dangers of displeasing Mr Trump over its coverage of the Capitol attack, Carlson described him as “a demonic force” and “a destroyer”.
“What he’s good at is destroying things,” he wrote, according to court filings. “He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”
Carlson later walked back those text messages after they were published, adding that they were “grabbed completely illegitimately.”
The former network star also is being sued for defamation by Ray Epps, who has been at the centre of a right-wing conspiracy theory surrounding the January 6 attack. His lawsuit accuses Carlson of amplifying a “fantastical” story on Fox News that claims he is an undercover federal agent who incited a riot.
The former president has shared conspiracy theories about Epps on his Truth Social. Ray Epps has pleaded guilty to a charge connected to the attack.
In his podcast appearance on Thursday, Carlson rejected the idea that the former president “committed some real crime” in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, among the four criminal cases Mr Trump faces as he seeks the presidency in 2024.
The Trump campaign hailed Carlson’s remarks as an endorsement.
His latest statements follow reporting that Carlson has engaged in what Politico called “shadow diplomacy” for Mr Trump and his campaign, as he uses his platform on X, formerly Twitter, to host interviews with far-right world figures.
Carlson’s 2021 Fox News broadcast from Hungary, where he taped an interview with Viktor Orban, was not authorised by the network, according to a new book from former CNN media reporter Brian Stelter.
Carlson returned to Hungary months after he was ousted from the network to interview Mr Orban for his X/Twitter broadcast.
In August, Mr Trump sought to upstage his Republican rivals for the 2024 nomination by skipping a debate to appear on Carlson’s broadcast.
Earlier this month, Mr Trump said he would consider Carlson as a running mate.
“I like Tucker a lot. I guess I would,” he said. “I think I’d say I would, because he’s got great common sense.”