Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images; Rich Polk/Getty Images for Politicon.
- Tucker Carlson bemoaned that a group of Trump supporters didn’t fight like “white men,” per a leaked text.
- Sen. JD Vance argued the text was “actually quite introspective” and “reflected well on him.”
- “By the way, I don’t think that’s why he was fired,” the Ohio senator added.
Sen. JD Vance on Wednesday offered a full-throated defense of Tucker Carlson on the heels of the revelation that the former Fox News host privately made comments appearing to assert the racial superiority of white people.
“It was actually quite introspective about how it made him feel,” said the Ohio Republican when asked about the text by Insider at the Capitol. “I don’t know why that would justify somebody getting fired, especially when you’re talking about a private text message.”
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Carlson, in a lengthy text message to one of his producers on the day after the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol, bemoaned that a group of former President Donald Trump’s supporters did not “fight” like “white men” when they attacked someone on the street in Washington, DC.
“A couple of weeks ago, I was watching video of people fighting on the street in Washington. A group of Trump guys surrounded an Antifa kid and started pounding the living shit out of him. It was three against one, at least,” wrote Carlson at the beginning of a lengthy text. “Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight.”
He then went on to describe the range of feelings that the video made him feel.
“Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it. Then somewhere deep in my brain, an alarm went off: this isn’t good for me. I’m becoming something I don’t want to be. The Antifa creep is a human being. Much as I despise what he says and does, much as I’m sure I’d hate him personally if I knew him, I shouldn’t gloat over his suffering. I should be bothered by it. I should remember that somewhere somebody probably loves this kid, and would be crushed if he was killed. If I don’t care about those things, if I reduce people to their politics, how am I better than he is?” wrote Carlson.
The text, redacted in court filings, reportedly alarmed the board of Fox News when it was discovered just before the company was set to defend itself in a defamation trial initiated by Dominion Voting Systems, contributing to his sudden firing.
Vance, who noted that he’s personal friends with Carlson, said the former Fox News host “saw a video” and “had some feelings about it.”
“I know Tucker, I know that he’s the sort of guy who thinks pretty deeply about this stuff, and I felt that text message reflected well on him, not poorly,” said Vance.
Though Vance seemed to be primarily referencing the latter half of the lengthy text message, he also defended Carlson when asked explicitly about the “white men” portion of Carlson’s text.
“He’s actually articulating a view, and then criticizing that view to himself, trying to understand why he’s having these feelings,” said Vance. “I think that’s a person being introspective in a private message to a friend. That shouldn’t get anybody fired.”
The Ohio senator then went on to argue that the text message wasn’t the reason Carlson was fired, though he declined to elaborate much further.
“By the way, I don’t think that’s why he was fired,” said Vance. “I’m highly skeptical that text message caused them to fire Tucker Carlson. He says far more controversial things publicly every single day.”
Up until his sudden firing last week, Carlson has been one of the most influential figures on the burgeoning populist right, with Republican lawmakers and candidates frequently appearing on his show to reach a conservative audience.
Last month, Vance described Carlson as “critically important” to both Middle America and the conservative movement during an appearance with American Moment, a group aligned with the populist right.
“Once a week, I worry that something terrible will happen to Tucker Carlson,” said Vance. “If it did, we would be in a much much worse position as a movement.”
—J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) April 24, 2023
And several Republican senators, including Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Braun of Indiana, have recently appeared on Carlson’s show — though both pled ignorance when asked about the text on Wednesday.
“What does it say?” asked Hawley. Upon being presented the text, he said: “I’m not going to react in real time to a text that I haven’t seen. I don’t know where it’s from.”
“I really don’t have any comment on that,” said Braun. “I don’t know how that entered into the decision Fox made and so forth, but I’m guessing anything you say can be used against you, so be careful in terms of what you do say.”
Braun, according to his official YouTube page, was the very last guest to appear on Carlson’s show on Friday, April 21, before it was canceled the following Monday.
“I think if there’s a trivia contest,” quipped Braun, “you could probably say that I might have been.”