Fox News host and ratings kingpin Tucker Carlson orchestrated a stunning takedown of two neoconservative pundits on back-to-back nights over the topic of Russia. He debated FOX News contributor Ralph Peters and Council on Foreign Relations fellow Max Boot this week. Both Tucker Carlson Tonight guests argued successively that Russia represented an existential national security threat to the United States–one even more dangerous than that of the Islamic State–with Boot attesting the leftist conspiracy theory that Russia had stolen the 2016 US Election.
Peters in particular proved beholden to grandiose moral equivocations. He informed Carlson that he “sounded like Charles Lindbergh in 1938 saying Hitler hasn’t attacked us” for proposing that the United States cooperate with the world’s second strongest military power to destroy ISIS. While perhaps Peters’ Hitler equivocation would resonate with the Trump-era left–with its frequent proclivities for using Hitler and Nazi comparisons at the slightest of whims–this tired and intellectually unoriginal accusation increasingly rings dry and hollow with right-leaning Americans. In this confused day and age dominated by progressive dogma, you very well may be compared to Adolf Hitler for merely objecting to transgender bathrooms and open borders. Peters would later back down after being challenged by Tucker on his irresponsible accusation, with Tucker describing Peters’ Nazi comparison as a “grotesque overstatement.“
The Russia showdown continued on Thursday night, with Tucker hosting neocon intellectual Max Boot for another spirited debate. Tucker responded to Boot’s objections to anti-Terrorism cooperation with Russia on the basis of Boot’s long list of foreign policy failures, including his unrepentant instigation and support for the disastrous Iraq War. Tucker even got personal–suggesting that the distinguished Council on Foreign Relations Fellow “should choose another profession, selling insurance, house painting, something you’re good at.”
While Tucker’s non-interventionist arguments against neo-Cold War sentiment are far from a creation of his own, it is of significance to see these thoughts represented in such a blunt fashion by a FOX News prime time host. Tucker’s rise to prominence as the network’s ratings leader represents the completion of a changing of the guard in the conservative movement’s de facto official media outlet. The anti-interventionist rhetoric once associated with unorthodox paleoconservative and libertarian voices such as Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul has emerged as the new foreign policy orthodoxy of the emerging populist right in the Trump era.