Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked his viewers Thursday night to consider a hypothetical situation: What if President Donald Trump was sick and tired of being president and plans to sabotage his own chances of winning reelection in 2020?
“It wouldn’t be a crazy conclusion,” Carlson said. “How would you like to spend your 70s locked in the White House?”
The Fox News host then presented examples of what the commander-in-chief could do to doom his prospects of remaining in office for another four years. The segment raised eyebrows at a network that has a cozy relationship with the White House and is known for promoting the administration’s conservative agenda. Trump has in return granted former Fox News contributors with positions in his administration, touting its ratings and singing the praise of its TV personalities at his campaign rallies. Sean Hannity, one of the network’s conservative pundits, acts as an informal adviser to the president and even joined Trump onstage at his final rally before the midterm election last fall.
But Carlson, who is in the midst of an advertiser boycott after the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America unearthed old recordings of him making racist and sexist remarks, has not avoided criticizing the president. In a December interview with a Swiss magazine, Carlson said Trump was “not capable” of achieving his goals and has not kept his campaign promises. The host has also criticized the president for suggesting guns should be confiscated from individuals deemed to be dangerous, even if it violates due process, and for hinting at a deal to protect young undocumented immigrants.
Although some of the network’s hosts have criticized the president, most notably for the deal Trump reached with Democrats on immigration and border security to avert a government shutdown and for his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, Carlson’s suggestion that Trump may be deliberately trying to lose in 2020 to avoid a second term marked an exquisite escalation of his criticisms and a sharp departure from the network’s usual coverage.