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Tucker asks Trump questions you won’t hear anywhere else

Exiled-to-X commentator Tucker Carlson spoke with Donald Trump in a far more unorthodox format

August 24, 2023 - 7:00am

While television viewers watched a conventional debate among a host of Republican candidates whose combined polling numbers don’t equal Donald Trump’s poll lead, the former president chose a different route. Rather than sparring with lesser-known rivals, he spoke with exiled-to-X commentator Tucker Carlson in a far more unorthodox format.

Instead of asking Trump a series of tedious questions about domestic policies, Carlson served up red meat to his base. He candidly pressed the real estate magnate on issues such as the death of Jeffrey Epstein, the likelihood of civil war, the physical condition of President Joe Biden, and the possibility that Trump might be assassinated if the indictments fail to stop his reelection. 

One of the first topics broached set the stage for everything that followed: the death of financier Jeffrey Epstein. Carlson asked Trump whether he thought Epstein was murdered, noting that he himself believed so. Trump initially said he believed it was a suicide, given that Epstein was leaving behind a very good life for prison, but Carlson’s decision to press the issue led to a noncommittal response, with the former president stating that “a case could be made either way”.

Aside from the expected attacks on Biden’s fitness and stamina, Trump continued to question the President’s diplomatic decisions and relationships, especially regarding North Korea, China, and Russia. The Republican touted that he saved “40,000 lives” — as well as the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea — by averting nuclear war with North Korea. 

While discussing foreign affairs, Trump’s narrative meandered into unexpected territories, such as the Panama Canal, which he insisted he could return to American control given that we lost “35,000 lives to the mosquito” in the course of building it (the number actually isn’t far off: 25,000 died over the three decades it took for the construction of the canal, though many of the workers weren’t American citizens). Trump’s off-the-cuff assertion that it should be considered one of the “nine” wonders of the world — instead of the traditional seven, because nine sounds better — underscores his knack for stamping conversations with oddly memorable digressions and asides. 

Another topic that saw a departure from traditional political rhetoric was the way Trump framed his views on environmental issues. From electric cars to water-saving fixtures, the former president’s commentary often appeared to be at odds with broader efforts to combat climate change. In doing so, he justified his positions using phrases only he could conceivably utter, arguing, for example, that “water restrictors” on sinks and bathtubs prevented people from properly washing their “beautiful hair”.

Concerns over election integrity also resurfaced. Trump touched on his suspicions surrounding the 2020 election results, including his belief in the existence of widespread voter fraud, perhaps affecting as much as 10-17% of the final vote. But arguably the most poignant part of the interview came when Carlson posed a question about the potential for civil war. Trump harkened back to 6 January 2021, describing the “tremendous love” for the country he felt from the people who gathered there — mostly peacefully, in his opinion. And while he did not give a direct answer to Carlson’s follow-up, Trump did highlight the deep divisions he saw in the nation, speaking of both “hatred” and “passion”.

Far more than a staid debate among blue-suited GOP apparatchiks that ran late into the night, Carlson’s interview serves as a mirror to America’s current political climate. With subjects that oscillated between the genuinely concerning and the bizarre, it’s clear that the traditional boundaries of political discourse are shifting. The so-called “Overton Window” related to certain once-verboten topics is opening, and Trump — though still somewhat equivocal in his answers to Carlson’s wildest questions — is again leading that charge.


Oliver Bateman is a historian and journalist based in Pittsburgh. He blogs, vlogs, and podcasts at his Substack, Oliver Bateman Does the Work

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Matt M
Matt M
10 months ago

I just watched the Tucker Carlson interview and it is clear to me that Mr Bateman misinterpreted a few things (innocently, I’m sure. Trump can be hard to follow sometimes).

‘Such as the Panama Canal, which he insisted he could return to American control …Trump’s off-the-cuff assertion that it should be considered one of the “nine” wonders of the world’

Three things here:
1.Trump was not saying it should return from Panamanian control to America. He was saying that the Chinese had in effect seized control of it (presumably through Belt & Road style policies with the local government) and he would drive them out of their hold on Panama. The reference Tucker Carlson made – when he talked about “our hemisphere” was to the famous Monroe Doctrine. (I don’t know whether that is true about Chinese interference but that was what he was saying).
2.The “nine wonders of the world” is a reference to a recent Joe Biden gaffe where he referred to the Grand Canyon as one of the nine wonders of the world.
3.The author also contends that Trump’s figure for deaths during the building of the Panama canal (35k) was wrong. But the figure he gives (25k) is not supported by the webpage he links to as reference. That webpage says: ‘Thousands of workers were killed. The official number is 5,609, but many historians think the real toll was several times higher.’

‘perhaps affecting as much as 10-17% of the final vote.’

4.Trump was saying some pollsters – he mentions McLauglin and Ferizio (both real firms, I checked) – had told him that the media suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story and, specifically, the letter which called it Russian Disinformation which was written by ex-CIA operatives, kept the Biden campaign from losing 10-17% of his vote. Not that voter fraud cost him 10-17% of the vote. This bit of the discussion was specifically about the trustworthiness of the CIA.

Last edited 10 months ago by Matt M
Matt M
Matt M
10 months ago

I just watched the Tucker Carlson interview and it is clear to me that Mr Bateman misinterpreted a few things (innocently, I’m sure. Trump can be hard to follow sometimes).

‘Such as the Panama Canal, which he insisted he could return to American control …Trump’s off-the-cuff assertion that it should be considered one of the “nine” wonders of the world’

Three things here:
1.Trump was not saying it should return from Panamanian control to America. He was saying that the Chinese had in effect seized control of it (presumably through Belt & Road style policies with the local government) and he would drive them out of their hold on Panama. The reference Tucker Carlson made – when he talked about “our hemisphere” was to the famous Monroe Doctrine. (I don’t know whether that is true about Chinese interference but that was what he was saying).
2.The “nine wonders of the world” is a reference to a recent Joe Biden gaffe where he referred to the Grand Canyon as one of the nine wonders of the world.
3.The author also contends that Trump’s figure for deaths during the building of the Panama canal (35k) was wrong. But the figure he gives (25k) is not supported by the webpage he links to as reference. That webpage says: ‘Thousands of workers were killed. The official number is 5,609, but many historians think the real toll was several times higher.’

‘perhaps affecting as much as 10-17% of the final vote.’

4.Trump was saying some pollsters – he mentions McLauglin and Ferizio (both real firms, I checked) – had told him that the media suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story and, specifically, the letter which called it Russian Disinformation which was written by ex-CIA operatives, kept the Biden campaign from losing 10-17% of his vote. Not that voter fraud cost him 10-17% of the vote. This bit of the discussion was specifically about the trustworthiness of the CIA.

Last edited 10 months ago by Matt M
J Bryant
J Bryant
10 months ago

I watched the Republican candidate debate and it was, indeed, fairly standard fare with certain participants grandstanding and trying to project leadership. Whether their grandstanding helped or hindered them is unclear. I’ll be interested to see the next set of polls. Many of them piled onto Ramaswamy as the up-and-coming newbie. Again, whether that helped or hindered them remains to be seen. I do feel we need a massive infusion of new blood in DC. The old guard are now very old and obviously out of ideas for our rapidly changing world.
Love him or hate him, Trump remains the master of self-promotion. Unless his legal troubles sideline his presidential ambitions I don’t see how any of the other candidates are a serious challenge to him.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

He is indeed the master of self-promotion: a natural product of a social-media-, selfie- and “Brand Me”-driven world.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

He is indeed the master of self-promotion: a natural product of a social-media-, selfie- and “Brand Me”-driven world.

J Bryant
J Bryant
10 months ago

I watched the Republican candidate debate and it was, indeed, fairly standard fare with certain participants grandstanding and trying to project leadership. Whether their grandstanding helped or hindered them is unclear. I’ll be interested to see the next set of polls. Many of them piled onto Ramaswamy as the up-and-coming newbie. Again, whether that helped or hindered them remains to be seen. I do feel we need a massive infusion of new blood in DC. The old guard are now very old and obviously out of ideas for our rapidly changing world.
Love him or hate him, Trump remains the master of self-promotion. Unless his legal troubles sideline his presidential ambitions I don’t see how any of the other candidates are a serious challenge to him.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
10 months ago

The Carlson-Trump episode could have been useful. It was not. And, it was not really an interview. It was a fireside chat, complete with a fire. A puff piece. Carlson allowed Trump to self-congratulate and – as Bill O’Reilly used to say – “bloviate”. The trajectory of American politics is frightening. The GOP is moribund, lead by Trump and sycophantic “rivals”, the Democrats are decrepit and screaming-mad woke. Where are the true conservatives and true liberals? Where are the statesmen?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago
Reply to  Gerald Arcuri

Maybe ‘statesmen’ got us into this trouble. Career politicians give me the shivers.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
10 months ago
Reply to  Gerald Arcuri

Trump is a great man. You can learn a few things from him.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
10 months ago
Reply to  Gerald Arcuri

Maybe ‘statesmen’ got us into this trouble. Career politicians give me the shivers.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
10 months ago
Reply to  Gerald Arcuri

Trump is a great man. You can learn a few things from him.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
10 months ago

The Carlson-Trump episode could have been useful. It was not. And, it was not really an interview. It was a fireside chat, complete with a fire. A puff piece. Carlson allowed Trump to self-congratulate and – as Bill O’Reilly used to say – “bloviate”. The trajectory of American politics is frightening. The GOP is moribund, lead by Trump and sycophantic “rivals”, the Democrats are decrepit and screaming-mad woke. Where are the true conservatives and true liberals? Where are the statesmen?

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
10 months ago

The key Tucker interview recently was with Robert Kennedy Jnr where he was given a half-hour of an extended discussion to run through the US intervention in the Ukraine, Washington having broken their pledges not to expand NATO at the beginning of the 1990s. Faucci’s career was also taken for a full drive in terms of bioweapon research.
Trump’s interview was truncated, just something nice for his followers and Biden sceptics. His emphasis on Newsome as a possible opponent was interesting mischief-making.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
10 months ago

The key Tucker interview recently was with Robert Kennedy Jnr where he was given a half-hour of an extended discussion to run through the US intervention in the Ukraine, Washington having broken their pledges not to expand NATO at the beginning of the 1990s. Faucci’s career was also taken for a full drive in terms of bioweapon research.
Trump’s interview was truncated, just something nice for his followers and Biden sceptics. His emphasis on Newsome as a possible opponent was interesting mischief-making.

michael harris
michael harris
10 months ago

Trump understands ‘Drama’ in both its modern and classical senses. So, pace the Prigozhin killing, does Putin. Almost no political commentator can sense it.
Without Drama it’s all cardboard.

michael harris
michael harris
10 months ago

Trump understands ‘Drama’ in both its modern and classical senses. So, pace the Prigozhin killing, does Putin. Almost no political commentator can sense it.
Without Drama it’s all cardboard.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
10 months ago

What the heck is ‘red meat’? This writer uses a term he heard others use, and never bothered once to find out its meaning, but applies it willy-nilly to every situation he comes across with which he disagrees.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
10 months ago

“Trump’s off-the-cuff assertion that it should be considered one of the “nine” wonders of the world — instead of the traditional seven, because nine sounds better — underscores his knack for stamping conversations with oddly memorable digressions and asides”.
I wouldn’t see it quite like that. It underscores either: a) Trump’s knack for not being able to keep facts straight, or b) Trump’s very individual view of the world where what he says has a certain internal logic to it but we just haven’t got it yet. So when he speaks of the “9 wonders of the world”, then he might mean the 7 we are aware of, plus himself (which takes it to 8), then the Panama Canal. That’s 9.

Philip Tisdall
Philip Tisdall
10 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Would you like to modify your thoughts in view of Matt M’s correct observation that Trump was mocking a Biden gaffe?
Google this, ‘Joe Biden calls Grand Canyon ‘one of the Earth’s nine wonders’ | Washington Examiner

Philip Tisdall
Philip Tisdall
10 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Would you like to modify your thoughts in view of Matt M’s correct observation that Trump was mocking a Biden gaffe?
Google this, ‘Joe Biden calls Grand Canyon ‘one of the Earth’s nine wonders’ | Washington Examiner

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
10 months ago

“Trump’s off-the-cuff assertion that it should be considered one of the “nine” wonders of the world — instead of the traditional seven, because nine sounds better — underscores his knack for stamping conversations with oddly memorable digressions and asides”.
I wouldn’t see it quite like that. It underscores either: a) Trump’s knack for not being able to keep facts straight, or b) Trump’s very individual view of the world where what he says has a certain internal logic to it but we just haven’t got it yet. So when he speaks of the “9 wonders of the world”, then he might mean the 7 we are aware of, plus himself (which takes it to 8), then the Panama Canal. That’s 9.

j watson
j watson
10 months ago

What a couple of Grifters.
Ker-chink as they fleece another batch of believers.

AC Harper
AC Harper
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Maybe yes, maybe no. But are Biden father and son also a couple of grifters fleecing another batch of believers?

j watson
j watson
10 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

No comparison, although many wish it so.
No great fan of Biden & son, but huge difference in illegality.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Would you really want as President a man with a track record of taking money from foreign governments? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the point of having a Commander in Chief in the first place? For all his many faults, Trump is at least a patriot.

j watson
j watson
10 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Evidence the President took money? Illegal money?
As opposed to 91 detailed indictments including trying to overturn a democratic election. And you think the latter a patriot? You’re in proper in cloud-cuckoo land on this one HB and you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

91 indictments?
Surely they could get it up to a round 100.
The DOJ aren’t really trying. How about ‘Wearing a red cap in a built-up area’? That’s up to 92 already.

michael harris
michael harris
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

If he drank the Kool-Ade he’d be dead like some 800 others at Jonestown, Guiana. Tasteless to use that phrase as a put-down.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

This is a bit disingenuous. It has to be clear by now that the DOJ, FBI and CIA will move mountains to protect and promote the Bidens. There are so many examples, from the suppression of the laptop, the timing of the announcement of the Whitmore kidnapping charges, the testimony of IRS agents, the judge’s decision to reject the Hunter Biden plea deal. It’s getting to be kind of comical by now.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

91 indictments?
Surely they could get it up to a round 100.
The DOJ aren’t really trying. How about ‘Wearing a red cap in a built-up area’? That’s up to 92 already.

michael harris
michael harris
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

If he drank the Kool-Ade he’d be dead like some 800 others at Jonestown, Guiana. Tasteless to use that phrase as a put-down.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

This is a bit disingenuous. It has to be clear by now that the DOJ, FBI and CIA will move mountains to protect and promote the Bidens. There are so many examples, from the suppression of the laptop, the timing of the announcement of the Whitmore kidnapping charges, the testimony of IRS agents, the judge’s decision to reject the Hunter Biden plea deal. It’s getting to be kind of comical by now.

j watson
j watson
10 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Evidence the President took money? Illegal money?
As opposed to 91 detailed indictments including trying to overturn a democratic election. And you think the latter a patriot? You’re in proper in cloud-cuckoo land on this one HB and you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Would you really want as President a man with a track record of taking money from foreign governments? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the point of having a Commander in Chief in the first place? For all his many faults, Trump is at least a patriot.

Arthur G
Arthur G
10 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

They’re all grifters. We’ve got two octogenarian con-men, utterly unfit to be President. It’s a disgrace.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
10 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Why don’t you run for pres, Arthur G?

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
10 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Why don’t you run for pres, Arthur G?

j watson
j watson
10 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

No comparison, although many wish it so.
No great fan of Biden & son, but huge difference in illegality.

Arthur G
Arthur G
10 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

They’re all grifters. We’ve got two octogenarian con-men, utterly unfit to be President. It’s a disgrace.

AC Harper
AC Harper
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Maybe yes, maybe no. But are Biden father and son also a couple of grifters fleecing another batch of believers?

j watson
j watson
10 months ago

What a couple of Grifters.
Ker-chink as they fleece another batch of believers.