Fox News host Tucker Carlson spent a little less than three minutes “remembering” Sen. John McCain midway through his show Monday. But instead of focusing on McCain’s legacy, Carlson used that time primarily to attack the media for criticizing the way President Donald Trump failed to properly honor him.
Carlson described McCain as a man who “loved what he loved” and “hated what he hated,” noting that “high atop his dislike list was Donald Trump.”
“McCain despised Trump,” he continued. “Trump for his part despised McCain right back.” He said the “root of the dispute” between the two men was “murky,” without mentioned how Trump, early in his 2016 presidential campaign, attacked McCain directly, saying he was “not a war hero” because he was captured during Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Carlson said Trump “at first could barely bring himself to mourn” McCain’s death, notably vetoing an official statement and returning the White House flag to full staff “too soon for many critics.”
The host played clips of CNN’s Brooke Baldwin and MSNBC’s Katy Tur bemoaning Trump’s “despicable” behavior. “How dare he!” Carlson said, mocking their outrage. “On the one hand, it’s amusing because these are the very same people, of course, who called John McCain a racist 10 years ago for daring to run against the anointed one.” For the record, while Baldwin joined CNN in 2008, Tur was not hired by NBC until after Obama’s first election.
“More troubling, though, more interesting too, is the claim you just heard that it’s ‘despicable’ not to mourn Senator McCain in a certain way. Not just impolite, but immoral and forbidden,” Carlson told viewers, echoing a point made earlier in the day by former White House official Marc Short. “When people in authority, people with TV shows, for example, decide that they can dictate what emotions you’re allowed to feel, you should worry.”
He said “McCain knew that well” because he “spent five and a half years as a captive in a society just like that and he spent the rest of his life fighting against it.” Without irony, Carlson added, “He hated authoritarians above all.”
“John McCain was a complicated person but a great man,” the host said finally. “If you really want to honor his memory, you ought to let people make up their own minds about what they think.”