Fox News host Tucker Carlson devoted a large portion of his opening monologue Monday night to the fallout from the release of the Mueller report, specifically focusing on CNN’s coverage of the Trump-Russia probe. Carlson accused CNN head Jeff Zucker of intentionally misleading his audience before going through some examples of CNN’s “long history of not getting the facts first” in a dig at the network’s motto.
Carlson went back decades as he attempted to illustrate why “in a fair world, CNN wouldn’t call itself a news network at all. It’s far less than that.” His first example dated all the way back to 1996, when CNN “blamed the Olympic bombings in Atlanta on an entirely...innocent security guard named Richard Jewell. In the end, CNN paid Jewell a settlement for slandering him.”
Carlson then brought up how “just two years later, CNN falsely accused the United States military of murdering American defectors during the Vietnam War.”
The final decades-old example Carlson highlighted was the case of Democratic Congressman Gary Condit, whom CNN accused of murdering one of his interns, noting that “CNN’s relentless coverage helped drive Condit from office” before adding that “Condit turned out to be innocent.”
Carlson then gave present-day examples of CNN failures: “Under Jeff Zucker, CNN’s recklessness and its dishonesty have only accelerated.” He specifically mentioned CNN’s characterization of Brett Kavanaugh as a “serial gang rapist alcoholic who targeted underage girls” as well as the network’s characterization of the Covington kids as “dangerous bigots who’d threatened a revered tribal elder Vietnam veteran purely because they hated American Indians.”
The FNC host also expressed bewilderment that in spite of the Russia narrative that dominated CNN’s programming for two years collapsing, “Jeff Zucker still runs the network.” Carlson also laughed at the idea that “CNN’s anchors wonder why Americans don’t trust the news media,” dismissing their idea that “propaganda from Fox News” leads to the media’s low approval ratings.
The CNN portion concluded with a clip of Carl Bernstein describing the media coverage of the Trump presidency as “one of the great reporting jobs in the history....of covering a presidency” and calling President Trump a liar.
“In case you’re wondering, and you may be, why Donald Trump got elected President of the United States, you just saw it. Trump may be flawed, but the people in charge are just absurd,” Carlson quipped.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Monday’s edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Tucker Carlson Tonight
TUCKER CARLSON: Over on CNN, Jeff Zucker dispatched his eunuch to address the channel’s viewership, meaning those Americans trapped at the airport waiting for flights. You may think CNN has been lying to you relentlessly for the last two years, the eunuch explained. Not at all. CNN has done a fantastic job. None of this was our fault. We’re amazing. Listen to him squeak.
BRIAN STELTER: Reporting is what adds the most value. Finding out something new, putting out new information into the world is the best feeling in journalism. It’s the greatest value add. That’s what hundreds of journalists have been doing, trying to solve pieces of this Trump-Russia puzzle. So don’t be fooled by the partisans who cherry-pick the worst mistakes of individual journalists or the craziest ideas from commentators and claim that’s the entire media. It’s not. We’re waiting for the facts because here is what I know. I mean, you’re going to hear this from the right for the next days and weeks to come that the press has basically made all of this up to take down President Trump. But the press is just following a trail that Trump created.
CARLSON: The greatest value add. That’s how CNN sums up its role in the Russia story. Does a single person believe that? Of course not. Not one person. Jeff Zucker himself doesn’t believe that and that’s why he sent his marionette out to lie as you just saw. Jeff Zucker is an anxious man tonight. He’s been caught doing the one thing journalists are not allowed to do. He intentionally misled his audience. In a fair world, Jeff Zucker would be running a car wash or he’d be selling time shares in Cancun. He would not be in the news business. Zucker himself knows that very well. He knows he’s an imposter. In a fair world, CNN wouldn’t call itself a news network at all. It’s far less than that and it has been for a long time. In 1996, CNN blamed the Olympic bombings in Atlanta on an entirely innocent, innocent security guard named Richard Jewell. In the end, CNN paid Jewell a settlement for slandering him. But Jewell never recovered his life. Just two years later, CNN falsely accused the United States military of murdering American defectors during the Vietnam War with sarin gas. It was a ludicrous story based on obvious lies. CNN ran it anyway because it confirmed their worldview. Three years after that, CNN implied, again on the basis of zero evidence, that a California Congressman called Gary Condit had murdered one of his interns. CNN’s relentless coverage helped drive Condit from office. Condit turned out to be innocent. Too late. His life and family were destroyed. Now, you’d think a news network might learn from debacles like this. And yet, under the leadership of Jeff Zucker, CNN’s recklessness and its dishonesty have only accelerated. Just this past September, CNN told us that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was a serial gang rapist alcoholic who targeted underage girls. Then in January, they told us that a group of boys from a Catholic school in Kentucky were dangerous bigots who’d threatened a revered tribal elder Vietnam veteran purely because they hated American Indians. Every part of that claim was a lie and CNN is now facing a $275 million lawsuit for repeating that lie. Yet CNN kept going. Just days after its Covington Catholic fraud, CNN decided to amplify yet another racially divisive hoax; Jussie Smollett’s manufactured hate crime. And now this. Exactly two weeks after Smollett was indicted for telling the same lies that CNN uncritically repeated, we learn that the Russian collusion narrative, which by the way has formed the backbone of CNN’s entire programming schedule for two years, is fake. It’s a hoax. It never happened. CNN responded by congratulating itself. Jeff Zucker still runs the network. His job apparently is safe. CNN’s anchors wonder why Americans don’t trust the news media. Must be that propaganda from Fox News. Yeah, must be. It has absolutely nothing to do with coverage like this.
ANDERSON COOPER: Potentially big new questions in the Russia investigation and the corresponding lack of answers from the White House.
JIM ACOSTA: Any kind of collusion with the Russians.
DON LEMON: And then there’s the Russia investigation.
PHILIP MUDD: We know the Russians were involved in interfering with the election.
CHRIS CUOMO: How do you explain the Manafort allegations as anything but collusion?
CARL BERNSTEIN: And it’s on the question of collusion, possible collusion with Russia.
LEMON: Fact. It’s Russia.
CARLSON: Fact, it’s Russia! Okay. Thanks for that, Mr. Lemon. So what are these voices of authority you just saw on CNN saying now that the facts have arrived? Have they apologized or corrected themselves or even acknowledged their role in perpetuating this hoax? Let’s see. Here’s Carl Bernstein, whose sloppy Watergate reporting from half a century ago somehow keeps him on television to this today. Carl has thought a lot about this question. He has decided that in his august and seasoned opinion as a celebrated newsman, CNN did a remarkable job here.
CARL BERNSTEIN: And I think we’ve done, the media, the press has done one of the great reporting jobs in the history of specially of covering a presidency by the most news organizations. And look, let’s look at where the disinformation and mistakes and lying have come from. It hasn’t come from the press. It’s come from the President of the United States and those around him.
CARLSON: Okay. In case you’re wondering, and you may be, why Donald Trump got elected President of the United States, you just saw it. Trump may be flawed, but the people in charge are just absurd.