Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on Sunday that part of “what it means to lead a country” is “killing people.” Carlson made the comment while speaking to Fox & Friends from South Korea, after witnessing President Trump become the first sitting president to walk into North Korean territory.
Carlson was reportedly a guest of the White House on the diplomatic trip to South Korea, along with the president's daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, both of whom are senior White House advisers. Carlson was reportedly scheduled to interview the president on Sunday for a Fox News special airing Monday night.
His fatalist assertion came after Fox & Friends host Jedediah Bila questioned Carlson on Trump’s controversial decision to have friendly relations with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
“President Trump recently made a comment about having a certain type of good chemistry with Kim Jong Un,” Bila said to Carlson. “... You’re talking about someone who has been responsible for so many human rights abuses, does he want to risk with that kind of language: Of A. coming off to Kim Jong Un like he’s pandering to him to an extent, or B. upsetting the American public that elected a president that they want to stand firm and be tough on those human rights violations... ?”
Carlson responded: ‘There’s no defending the North Korean regime, which is a monstrous regime, it’s the last really Stalinist regime in the world, it’s a disgusting place obviously, so there’s no defending it.”
But then he went on: “On the other hand... you’ve got to be honest about what it means to lead a country, it means killing people,” Carlson said. “Not on the scale that North Koreans do, but a lot of countries commit atrocities, including a number that we’re closely allied with... it’s important to be honest about that.”
Carlson explained Trump’s decision to reach out to Kim Jong Un again not as a choice between good and bad—or even the lesser of two evils—but a choice between many evils.
“It’s not necessarily a choice between the evil people and the great people, it’s a choice most of the time between the bad people and the worst people,” Carlson said. “That’s kind of the nature of life, and so the nature of power. And I do think that’s how the president sees it, he’s far less sentimental about this stuff, and maybe I think more realistic.”
The host then said critiques of Trump’s opens-arms approach to Kim have been “silly and stupid,” because the president is doing what is necessary.
“In the end what matters is what’s good for the United States,” Carlson said. “And you deal with bad people a lot of the time in order to help your own country. That’s kind of the way I think Trump sees it.”
CORRECTION, 6/30/19, 11:45 p.m.: An earlier version of this article misidentified Jedediah Bila as Jillian Mele. The article has been updated to reflect the correction.