Is Tucker Carlson really a true believer in the MAGA world? Has he taken a dive too deep in the Republican rabbit hole? Or is this all just a performance for the ratings? For the money? For the clout?
It’s a vexing question, according to host Andy Levy on this week’s episode of political podcast The New Abnormal.
“We’ve had many conversations about the performative aspect of this and trying to figure out who we think are true believers,” Levy says to his guest, the author and CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp.
“A lot of times it’s easy to figure out who’s doing what for what reason, and sometimes it’s not. Does he [Tucker Carlson] just look at the ratings every night and say, ‘Yep, I gotta keep doing this’?”
Cupp says the case of Tucker Carlson “vexes me most,” citing a relationship with the Fox News host that has stretched years.
“I know him pretty well. I’ve known him a long time and I cannot figure it out. I can look at Charlie Kirk and I know what he’s doing. Or Candace Owens, I’m pretty clear. But Tucker is tricky because when I first met him, he was very libertarian. He would always criticize establishment politics on the left and the right. So that’s not new for him to reject an establishment wing of the Republican Party. That’s not new.
“There was a populism in him, but it wasn’t as pronounced as it is now. But it’s very hard for me to imagine that the Tucker I knew somewhere in him had this impulse to praise colonialism.
I mean, they were great because they brought Protestantism to the world… which is like a version of what he said.
“That’s bizarre to me. I can’t imagine that that lived in him somewhere and it’s just now coming out because the queen died. But I don’t know, I can’t wrap my mind around it. And I don’t want to be presumptuous. Maybe this is him? But a lot of it doesn’t sound like the Tucker I would’ve written as a character 10, 15, 20 years ago.”
Also on the podcast, Levy talks to guest podcast host Maura Quint, co-founder of Tax March and the campaign director for Americans for Tax Fairness, about a recent Gallup poll finding that trust in the Supreme Court is at a record low.
“I actually find the fact that people are losing confidence in the Supreme Court both a little bit scary and a little bit heartening to me, because the Supreme Court definitely has lived outside of the idea of politics for a lot of people for a really long time,” Quint says.
“It’s supposed to be separate. We think of it as this separate institution that is not necessarily a political player in the muck of politics in the way that the rest of it all is. Now I think people are seeing that, oh no, nope, that’s not true at all. In fact, these are entirely political people, and that is good if people are kind of waking up to it.”
“It’s a little bit scary only in a sort of like, ‘Hmm, are they waking up to it,’ in that good way. Or are we seeing people just have no faith in any sort of government whatsoever and look for reasons to try and burn it all down?’ It’s tricky.”
Then Levy tells The Daily Beast politics reporter Zachary Petrizzo that the only surprising part of that New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s new Trump book was that Trump aides were apparently taken aback by his crude, transphobic behavior.
“I was like, really? You didn’t expect this from Donald Trump?” Levy asks.
Petrizzo says Trump, in his post-presidency era, has accelerated his far right, homophobic tendencies. “I imagine many Trump aides now wouldn’t be taken aback by that. I think before he had become president, he had a lot of people that quite frankly have been described to The Daily Beast as ‘Team Normal,’ which was a team in the White House that was a bit more levelheaded compared to the people he has around him now, which I know is a strange and bizarre concept.”