Fox News host Tucker Carlson lies. He lies and lies and lies, and occasionally dabbles in some bullshitting, just to break up all the lying he does. He lies so much, in fact, that:
1) He's become the most watched cable news figure in the country.
2) Even Fox News's own lawyers are like, "Oh, yeah, don't actually take him seriously. He lies all the time."
Those two truths collided this week, when Carlson alleged without a shred of either evidence or shame that the National Security Agency was spying on him in a massive, coordinated, intelligence community operation to take him off the air for his long and well-documented history of truth-telling. Heh.
"Yesterday we heard from a whistleblower within the U.S. government who reached out to warn us that the NSA is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air," Carlson proclaimed during Monday night's broadcast.
"The Biden administration is spying on us," he added. "We have confirmed that."
Is there a shadowy government op dedicated to taking down this dangerous truth-teller? I don't know. Maybe, I suppose. It's not like the government hasn't been busted spying on journalists over and over again. Then again, it's also not like Carlson hasn't concocted laughably convoluted fantasies in the past about being the victim of vast conspiracies to, uh, lose his mail, or find his high school yearbook.
If Carlson really was being targeted by black helicopters and nameless spooks in fedoras and trench coats, his employer network would be, y'know, mildly interested. As it happens, they're really not, which is probably a sign that Carlson is out on one of his lily-white limbs again. Which, Fox News has clearly signaled, is totally fine with them so long as he keeps bringing in eyeballs and cash — which he very much does.
The NSA, meanwhile, has felt compelled to publicly deny Carlson's allegations, calling them "untrue" and stressing that they're legally bound to refrain from spying on U.S. citizens without a court order.
Granted, taking any government statement — particularly one from one of its many spy agencies — at face value is a fools game. These are, after all, a cadre of intelligence professionals whose job it is to obfuscate facts and manufacture consent. But it's hard for me to imagine what sort of earth-shattering scoop Carlson could have uncovered that would have warranted being targeted by one of most secret of all the country's secret-keeping institutions in the first place. Carlson's comments came at the tail end of a segment on his (extremely debunked) fairytale that the FBI was actually behind the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, which might be a clue, right? Honestly, who knows with this guy.
It's not like Carlson hasn't spent years accusing the government — particularly the Democrats therein — of all sorts of heinous crimes against God and Donald Trump and whomever else he's chosen to deify that week. And where was his alleged NSA whistleblower to warn him then? You'd think his accusing Democrats of a massive global conspiracy to overturn a presidential election is more of a national security concern than saying the FBI was involved in a riot, wouldn't you? Sure seems like this might have the faintest whiff of being just a teensy little bit extremely fucking not true!
Not that "truth" matters for Carlson. Since making his claim Monday, he's gotten everything he could want: a new programming narrative for his next few episodes; an official NSA reaction against which he's already begun ranting; even a shout out from an (admittedly not the most trustworthy) member of Congress.
Hell, even Trump himself got in on the action, declaring that Carlson's story "is true" and "totally believable."
If nothing else, this whole idiotic tempest in the world's dumbest teapot is a perfect example of the single most important ingredient in Carlson's recipe for success: victimhood. Without being able to play victim — and in turn bequeath the fantasy of martyrdom to his millions of viewers — Carlson is nothing. He needs the facade of being targeted to keep his show compelling and his message urgent.
Otherwise, God forbid, his audience might someday realize that their idol is actually a silver-spoon grifter whose only animating motivation is unyielding self-interest.