One of the most prominent figures on Fox News isn’t joining in on the cheerleading of President Donald Trump’s assassination of Iran’s most important military leader.
During his show on Friday, host Tucker Carlson delivered a lengthy monologue criticizing the escalation of tensions with Iran sparked by the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who died in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq on Thursday.
“Washington has wanted war with Iran for decades,” Carlson said. “They still want it now. Let’s hope they haven’t finally gotten it.”
During his show on Thursday, the Fox News host laid out the ways that Soleimani had destabilized the region and helped encourage attacks on the U.S. But he also argued that war with Iran was pointless, saying the benefits of conflicts in the Middle East have been mostly “nonexistent” and have “turned out to be longer, bloodier, and more expensive than we were promised.”
“No one in Washington is in the mood for big-picture questions right now,” he said. “Questions like: Is Iran really the greatest threat we face? And who’s actually benefiting from this?And why are we continuing to ignore the decline of our country in favor of jumping into another pointless quagmire, from which there’s no obvious exit?”
Carlson largely avoided criticizing Trump directly. But he singled out many of the administration’s current and former national security hawks, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former National Security Adviser John Bolton. He also admonished Sen. Ben Sasse, mocking the senator’s statement that the circumstances leading to Soleimani’s death were “very simple.”
“Soleimani was a bad guy. But does that make killing him ‘very simple?’” Carlson said. “Of course not. Nothing in life, and certainly not killing is ever ‘very simple.’ Any politician who tells you otherwise is dumb or lying.”
Carlson was one of the only major figures on Fox News to criticize Soleimani’s killing. Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Pete Hegseth, and the hosts of Fox & Friends all praised the move. Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney went further, repeatedly asking guests how Trump could possibly be impeached during a military crisis.
Throughout Trump’s time in office, Carlson has been a booster of many of the president’s policies and drawn the ire of critics for his comments about race, homelessness, poverty, white supremacy, and numerous other topics.
But he has also occasionally used his influence and platform to both publicly and privately lobby the president against foreign entanglements abroad.
Though he doesn’t have the kind of bond the president shares with fellow hosts Hannity and Lou Dobbs, who use their daily programs to shower the president with praise, Trump watches Carlson’s show and occasionally calls the Fox News anchor.
In June, The Daily Beast reported that Carlson had advised Trump against going to war with Iran, at the time seeming to prevail over other hawkish voices including Pompeo and Bolton.
On the air, Carlson repeatedly slammed and mocked Bolton, saying during a show last year that a potential conflict would “be like Christmas, Thanksgiving, his birthday wrapped into one.” He’s reminded viewers of the faulty intelligence that the Bush administration used to justify the war in Iraq. And during an increase in hostilities last year, the Fox News host questioned whether war with Iran would be “in anyone’s interest.”