The evidence points heavily toward a sincere conversion on Carlson’s part, or preexisting conviction that was briefly overcome by the beat of the war drums. Carlson did work for the Weekly Standard, perhaps the most prominent neoconservative magazine, in the 1990s and early 2000s. Carlson today speaks respectfully of William Kristol, its founding editor, but has concluded that he is all wet. On foreign policy, the people Carlson speaks most warmly about are genuine hard left-wingers: Glenn Greenwald, a vociferous critic of both economic neoliberalism and neoconservatism; the anti-establishment journalist Michael Tracey; Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the Nation; and her husband, Stephen Cohen, the Russia expert and critic of U.S. foreign policy.
“The only people in American public life who are raising these questions are on the traditional left: not lifestyle liberals, not the Williamsburg (Brooklyn) group, not liberals in D.C.—not Nancy Pelosi.” He calls the expertise of establishment sources on matters like Syria “more shallow than I even imagined.” On his MSNBC show, which was canceled for poor ratings, he cavorted with noninterventionist stalwarts such as Ron Paul, the 2008 and 2012 antiwar GOP candidate, and Patrick J. Buchanan. “No one is smarter than Pat Buchanan,” he said last year of the man whose ideas many say laid the groundwork for Trump’s political success.