Tucker Carlson, host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio, in New York, Thursday, March 2, 2107. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
A source “familiar with the conversations” has told The Daily Beast that Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, has been privately advising President Trump not to take military action against Iran, reportedly telling him that “war with Iran would be a mistake unless it was absolutely necessary.”
According to The Daily Beast, a senior administration official said that Carlson has criticized several of the more “hawkish members” of Trump’s circle. (It was not clear if this was the same or a separate source.)
In particular, on Monday night’s episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the host questioned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s possibly “misplaced confidence” that Iran was responsible for the recent tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman. Carlson reminded his audience of then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s certainty that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in 2003 and said, “We’re still paying the price for that.”
Carlson has also made disparaging remarks about National Security Adviser John Bolton, saying that he was “intentionally creating stronger tension between the United States and Iraq in the interest of instigating military action. Carlson added that, for Bolton, a military conflict between the U.S. and Iran would “be like Christmas, Thanksgiving, his birthday wrapped into one.”
Carlson has been strongly opposed to U.S. military intervention abroad, particularly in the Middle East recently asking, “How is a war with Iran in America’s interest in any way?”
My first reaction to this story was one of surprise. Why would Trump take advice from a talk show host. But Tucker Carlson is one of the sharpest and most well-informed political news hosts around. He’s been following politics for at least 25 years. He has a better grasp of the ways of Washington than most current politicians.
Moreover, it’s not as if Tucker Carlson is determining U.S. policy. He is but one of many voices the President is listening to.
I can easily envision Carlson becoming more directly involved in politics in the future. He would certainly be a devastating debater.
This arrangement is not unprecedented. Although it didn’t end well, former executive chairman of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, served as White House Chief Strategist for the first seven months of the Trump administration. It’s been thought that Rush Limbaugh sometimes advises Trump as well.
And it has long been rumored that Sean Hannity advises Trump on policy issues.
The Hill reports that “advisors in Trump’s White House, for example, stated that Sean Hannity is often affectionately referred to as the “shadow chief of staff,” due to his frequent interactions with the president and advice he gives him on policy matters.”
Last April, a source told the Washington Post that Hannity “basically has a desk in the place.”
Trump is currently operating without a Secretary of Defense. Patrick Shanahan, who is the Acting Defense Secretary, announced his decision on Tuesday to withdraw his name from consideration for the permanent role citing family issues. This leaves the President without a Defense Secretary as tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalate. This may explain why he reached out to Carlson.