A liberal reporter figured he had private-messaged his way into securing what he later termed an “earth-shaking scoop.” Tucker Carlson, the subject of the potential exclusive, was happy to indulge the reporter’s fantasy, but only for a moment.
Mattathias Schwartz, a New York-based senior correspondent at Insider, reached out to the former Fox News host Tuesday night, asking, “Are you going to run for president?”
Carlson, who has previously been prompted to run and asked about running, responded, “Yes. Announcing Friday in New Hampshire.”
Given Carlson’s popularity and the unpopularity of some of the major candidates now fielded, this news could have been seismic.
“Can I call you?” Schwartz eagerly replied. “I would like to be the first with this.”
When Carlson did not answer, Schwartz continued excitedly: “But I can’t stand it up with one text.”
“Let me know. A voice call would be helpful,” Schwartz added.
Rather than leave Schwartz hanging, Carlson texted, “Totally kidding. Sorry.”
Schwartz admitted in turn, “You got me.”
“I can never control myself,” wrote Carlson.
Carlson noted that extra to not being a prospective presidential candidate, he’s “fundamentally a dick. My apologies.”
The liberal reporter later claimed on Twitter, “Just based on the transcript above, I think that his hope was that we would go with it and hit print based on the one text. But I don’t know that.”
While from the texts alone it’s unclear whether Schwartz took the joke well, his subsequent write-up indicates he likely didn’t.
Schwartz smeared Carlson as a “white nationalist,” an “incendiary monologist,” and an “asshole” in his article about the exchange for Insider, which reads as though it were cannibalized from a hit piece originally intended to have a giant election-related scoop at its center.
The liberal reporter accused Carlson of incubating “the Trump movement’s conspiracy theories and insatiable sense of outrage” and focusing “the embittered and racialized nationalism that propelled Donald Trump into the White House.”
After indicating that 34% of Tucker Carlson’s audience is nonwhite and highlighting the former Fox News host’s criticisms of U.S. support for Ukraine and illegal immigration, Schwartz defended his earlier suspicion that Carlson might run for higher officer.
“Speculation about a possible GOP primary run has followed Carlson for years. One poll found that 59 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Carlson, higher than Fox News,” he wrote.
Politico took part in such speculation in late April, detailing the “keys to a hypothetical Tucker Carlson 2024 campaign.”
Dave Kochel, a veteran Iowa Republican strategist, told the liberal outlet, “He had three and a half million viewers. … Obviously, his show was a bigger cultural phenomenon than just that. He’s well known to 20 million people, probably, but all of them are political watchers. I guess anything is possible. And we live in the stupidest timeline ever. I just don’t see it happening.”
Dave Carney, a New Hampshire GOP strategist, told Politico, “I don’t think he would have any fear of going right after Trump and inheriting some of that support and peeling it off. Every vote he gets will be out of Trump’s hide and really impact the race dramatically.”
Ed Kilgore of New York magazine recently suggested that it “would be foolish to rule out Carlson as presidential timber,” but suggested that 2024 isn’t his time.
Back in 2021, Grant Reeher, a political science professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, told the National Interest, “Carlson has been keen to focus on the supposed failings and absurdities of Democratic elites, and that puts him in as good a position as any to inherit his supporters — those for whom Trump, as an individual candidate and office-holder, carried some extra appeal beyond the standard Republican brand.”
Leonie Huddy, a political science professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, agreed, saying, “Carlson is a real contender for the Republican nomination.”
Newsweek recently reported that the British betting firm Betfair was offering odds of 80-1 on Carlson winning the 2024 presidential election outright, 50-1 odds on him becoming the GOP candidate, and 6-1 odds on Trump naming Carlson his vice president.
Jokes and speculation aside, Carlson recently provided an insight into why he might not run while giving a keynote address at a fundraiser for adults with disabilities in Oxford, Alabama.
Carlson said, “I’m a sincere lover of the country and I want it to get better. … How do you, all of us, in our small, incremental ways, make it better?”
An audience member shouted out in reply, “Run for president!”
The audience cheered.
Carlson suggested, “I think if you run for president, they will assassinate your character.”
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