Did NSA Put Secret Wire Tapps In Tucker Carlson's Underpants, Or Is He Just Babbling?
Tucker Carlson has spent all week whining that he has for sure knowledge that the National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on him, in order to personally destroy him. You know, in case you're wondering what your rightwing idiot uncle will be mad about this Fourth of July.
It started Monday:
"Yesterday," he said, "we heard from a whistleblower within the U.S. government who reached out to warn us that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air."
Sounds totally legit. Love it when whistleblowers tell Tucker Carlson that the NSA is spying on him, and not just that, but they're going to leak his secrets, in order to take Tucker Carlson off the air. Because that's a thing the NSA cares about. Tucker Carlson.
[T]he person who had contacted him "repeated back to us information about a story that we are working on that could have only come directly from my texts and emails."
"There's no other possible source for that information," Carlson claimed. "Period."
"The NSA captured that information without our knowledge and did it for political reasons," he then said. "The Biden administration is spying on us. We have confirmed that."
As Erik Wemple reports, Tucker said he did a FOIA request for "all information that the NSA and other agencies have gathered about this show." That's definitely how you find out if the NSA is spying on you.
And somehow or another, Tucker claims to have CONFIRMED this. That is some very speedy confirming! On Sunday, the whistleblower told Tucker the NSA was spying on him, and Tucker and his journalism team got it confirmed by Monday's broadcast. Great work, Tuckerteam! Must be some real big Deep Throatin' goin' on in Tuckertown!
We should all take this at face value because why would Tucker just make shit up? More on that in a second.
As Philip Bump notes at the Washington Post, the NSA doesn't even do what Tucker is claiming it does. It doesn't operate domestically. If it's monitoring an international terrorist threat or a hostile foreign nation trying to steal an American election, and if in that surveillance it picks up comms with an American, that person's name is hidden. If there's some reason it should be un-hidden, there is a process for proving why it should be. This process is called UNMASKING!11!1!!!! and it involves a FISA court.
And if — BIG IF — someone in the Biden administration did order the UNMASKING!1!11!! of an American citizen communicating with foreign actors and found that it was Tucker Carlson, then that says more about Tucker Carlson than it says about the NSA or the Biden administration.
As Bump reports, Tucker continued his malcontent bellyaching Tuesday night:
On Tuesday night, Carlson told his viewers that he had called the office of NSA Director Paul Nakasone — a "highly political left-wing four-star general" — and spoken with NSA officials who had "refused to say" if they had read his emails, "and then they refused even to explain why they couldn't answer that simple question."
Hate it when the NSA won't just tell you what they're working on. NSA parents are fucking TERRIBLE at Career Day.
More transcript from Tuesday:
"Some faceless hack in a powerful government spy agency decides he doesn't like what you think, so he is going to hurt you and there's nothing you can do about it. That could happen to you," Carlson said. "Now that the Biden administration has classified tens of millions of patriotic Americans," he later added, "the kind who served in the military and fly flags in front of their homes as potential domestic terrorists, white supremacist saboteurs, we're going to see a whole lot more of this kind of thing, a whole lot more."
IF THEY CAN DO IT TO TUCKER — and why wouldn't you think they're doing it to Tucker, Tucker just said for a fact they're doing it to Tucker — THEY WILL DO IT TO YOUUUUUUUUUUUU! ("You" here of course refers to the Nazi-adjacent white nationalists who watch Tucker's show, which brings this in line with Tucker's months-long campaign to convince his viewers that the government going after the terrorists who attacked America on January 6 is tantamount to them going after average Fox News fans.)
The NSA actually responded to this crap for some reason:
On June 28, 2021, Tucker Carlson alleged that the National Security Agency has been 'monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.' This allegation is untrue. Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air.
NSA has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States. With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting.
That leaves a bit of wiggle room, we think! As Bump notes, the fact NSA said he's never been a "target" decidedly does not say they've never picked up Tucker Carlson's yelpy falsetto giggles in routine surveillance of bad foreign actors. However, they are pretty explicit about saying they have no want, need, or desire to interfere with Tucker's nightly White Power Hour on Fox News.
Now, should we take what the NSA says at face value? Not historically! The NSA has fucked up, bigly hugely massively, and it has said some real fibs. In fact, Bump spends a lot of time on the NSA's credibility issues as an agency, in order to put in context how bugfuck it is that the freaking NSA comes off more credible with that statement than Tucker does.
But alas, such is Tucker.
Of course, Tucker believes his audience is just pant-shitting stupid — and he's not wrong about that — so he knows their wee brains won't flicker on and off to alert them that what Tucker is describing is not even what the NSA does. They don't know what the NSA does. All they know is it is Deep State. They won't stop to think, "Wait, why would the NSA want Tucker Carlson off the air? And how would leaking information about whatever White Supremacist Of The Day story Tucker is working on accomplish any of that?"
They won't notice that when Tucker claims the NSA is spying on him "for political reasons," he hasn't actually proven that. They won't notice any of it. His viewers are his idiots, and he is their golden boy.
But fuck all that noise, because no sentient person should believe a word Tucker says. No less than Fox News lawyers have made this same general argument, albeit in much kindlier terms.
Hey, remember that time Tucker spent a week whining about how antifa did a vandalism to his house, and the Beltway media was like TUT TUT ANTIFA CROSSED THE LINE! but it turned out Tucker was pretty much full of shit?
Lotta grains of salt needed here. In fact, we'll take a whole bag of salt.
Wemple notes that press freedom groups don't seem to give a shit about Tucker's babbling, and neither does Fox News brass. Same goes for Fox News's on-air talent. In fact, the only person who seems to actually believe Tucker is Florida Man GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, who's currently under investigation for alleged sex trafficking of a minor.
Wemple offers another possibility, though, for why Tucker might be caterwauling about something about to leak and trying to pin it on the NSA:
In charging that the government was planning to "leak" communications to attack "Tucker Carlson Tonight," the host was perhaps attempting to get ahead of an embarrassing news cycle or two.
Hey, remember that time Tucker started attacking Erik Wemple as a "mentally unbalanced middle aged man" who had allegedly found dirty dirties in Tucker's college yearbook, which led us to all learn about Tucker's membership in the so-called "Dan White Society," apparently named after the guy who murdered Harvey Milk, which would be on-brand for Tucker since he's always had weird hysterical reactions to gay stuff?
Point is, if a real bad story about Tucker comes out in the next couple days, everybody be sure to get mad at the NSA. That's what Tucker needs you to do, OK?
You know, allegedly.
Follow Evan Hurst on Twitter.
Wonkette is funded ENTIRELY by a few thousand people like you. If you're not already, would you pls consider being the few thousandth and one?