“Last week we taped a segment that didn’t air. Tonight, we’ll explain why,” Tucker Carlson tweeted the hour before his primetime show Wednesday night. Then, with a few minutes left in the broadcast he added, “We are about to tell you why we didn’t air that segment last week.”
And yet anyone watching him on Fox News saw no mention of an interview with Rutger Bregman that finally saw the light of day this week after the Dutch historian and author of Utopia for Realists leaked audio of it to NowThis News. While Carlson’s tweets seemingly suggested an on-air response, his explanation ended up as an online-only instead.
In the leaked video, the host can be heard telling his guest, “Why don’t you go fuck yourself, you tiny brain. And I hope this gets picked up because you’re a moron. I tried to give you a hearing, but you were too fucking annoying.”
Carlson explained in his online video that he wanted to host Bregman on his show to “congratulate” him for lecturing the “global elites” at the Davos conference in Switzerland on how they can simultaneously care about climate change and fly around the world on private jets.
“Things went fine for the first few minutes but then Bregman launched into an attack on Fox News,” Carlson said. “It’s not clear that Bregman has ever seen Fox, but he wanted to make his point. Fine.” The part that set Carlson off was when Bregman claimed that his “corporate masters” tell him what to say on his show.
“You might not like it, but you’re a millionaire funded by billionaires,” Bregman told Carlson. “And that’s the reason you’re not talking about these issues.”
“That was too much,” Carlson replied Wednesday night. “Whatever my faults, or those of this channel, nobody in management has ever told us what positions to take. Never. Not one time. We have total freedom here and we’re grateful for that.”
“So I did what I try never to do on this show and I was rude,” he continued. “I called him a moron and then I modified that word with a vulgar Anglo-Saxon term that is also intelligible in Dutch. In my defense, I would say that that was entirely accurate. But you’re not allowed to use that word on television, so once I’d said it out loud, there was no airing the segment.”
Essentially, Carlson didn’t like what Bregman had to say so he deliberately blew up the piece with profanity so it could never air on television. He was clearly not anticipating that Bregman would release it on his own.
Telling his web viewers they can listen to the full exchange if they want—without instructions on where to find it—Carlson warned, “There is some profanity, and I apologize for that. On the other hand, it was genuinely heartfelt. I meant it with total sincerity.”
When Bregman shared the video with his Twitter followers on Wednesday, he added the Noam Chomsky quote he wished he had used to push back against Carlson in the moment: “I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying. But what I’m saying is that if you believe something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.”