Tucker Carlson says the U.S. government is trying to take his Fox News Channel program off the air. But the nation’s top surveillance agency says it hasn’t been looking at the pundit or his primetime showcase.
After Carlson made allegations on air Monday evening about the National Security Agency monitoring him, the NSA responded Tuesday evening that it isn’t watching his show and has no plans to do so.
“On June 28, 2021, Tucker Carlson alleged 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,” the NSA said in a statement Tuesday evening. “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.”
During his broadcast Tuesday evening, Carlson called the NSA statement “infuriatingly dishonest,” and continued to allege that NSA officials had read what he called “private emails” without his permission. He said he had spent part of Tuesday trying to reach Paul Nakasone, the U.S. General who oversees the NSA, but was unable to do so. A Fox News spokesperson declined to elaborate beyond Carlson’s remarks on air.
Carlson’s claims have generated social-media chatter all day, with detractors wondering why other Fox News programs hadn’t picked up the anchor’s shocking allegations.
The anchor leads the most-watched program on Fox News Channel, and is a frequent generator of controversy, even backlash. Carlson maintains that he discusses issues and angles on them that no one else wants to, and the show draws heavy scrutiny of its host’s discussion of issues centered around race and politics. His allegations against the government threaten to kick up a discussion that borders on conspiracy theory, unless the host can offer further proof behind his claims.
Other Fox News hosts have spurred hot talk around assertions that could not be proven. In May of 2017, Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity agreed to stop talking about a debunked theory around the death of a former Democratic National Committee staffer, Seth Rich, after using his show for days to bolster the notion that Rich had been killed in retaliation for the leaking of certain DNC documents. There has never been credible evidence to support such claims. Fox News in September of last year agreed to a private legal settlement with Rich’s family over a 2017 report it published purporting Rich had leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks. Fox News retracted the report in 2017, just as Hannity said he would “cease” discussion about it on air.
Carlson’s program, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” reached an average of 2.9 million people in the second quarter, according to data from Nielsen.