Tucker's candidate of choice in 2020: Kanye West?

Photo via Gage Skidmore

Looks like the NSA is going right for the throat with its Tucker leaks.

No, no, I kid.

If they were going for the throat, they would have leaked him telling a friend that he got vaccinated.

There was a cloak-and-dagger anti-Tucker theory kicking around social media this week that the reason Carlson started talking about the NSA reading his emails is because he knew that some newspaper somewhere had unflattering communications of his and was set to report on them. The way he planned to get ahead of that, the theory went, was to pre-spin it as a product of the “deep state” illegally snooping on him rather than a source who was privy to the communications leaking them to the press. That way, if and when the unflattering material emerged, it would instantly transform from a story about what’s in the emails to a story about the U.S. government trying to damage a critic by feeding his hacked communications to scurrilous media hatchet men.

A more pro-Tucker theory, of course, is that the NSA really is snooping on him and spreading dirt around to try to take him out.

I don’t think that’s what’s happening here as this just isn’t that embarrassing — or embarrassing at all, really — but it’s odd that it’s coming out now, eight months after the election for no apparent reason.

Shortly after the presidential election, the Fox News host started telling some program guests that he had cast his ballot for West, according to two people familiar with those conversations. Given Carlson’s fierce on-air commentary in favor of Trump, the guests were left wondering if Carlson was serious or merely joking.

“It’s his way of saying that he’s not just another Trumpette at Fox News like Sean Hannity,” one of the sources said, referring to Carlson’s fellow primetime opinion host and reputed internal rival…

Prior to the election, Carlson said he would vote for West, according to a third person who knows Carlson. “He and Kanye get along. They both regularly find themselves in the crosshairs. They’re both pro-life,” this associate said.

Carlson and West have a friendly but not necessarily close relationship, associates say. The two men have spoken from time to time, and Carlson even spent some time in Wyoming with West shortly before the election. A planned interview fell through, although the two had a “cordial back and forth,” according to a person familiar with the trip.

Could Politico’s sources be teaming up to smear Tucker by falsely suggesting that he didn’t vote for Trump? Eh. If that was their scheme, why not lie and claim that he told them he voted for Biden, not Kanye? That would have been truly scandalous, much more so than Tucker casting a protest vote for a guy whom he knows personally and whose socially conservative views he admires. “[O]n foundational questions about life and children and what happens when you die, no one with a national platform has been more honest or sincere or effective than Kanye West has been,” Carlson said on his show last year. If he really did vote for West, I respect him for taking his vote seriously enough to cast it for a candidate for whom he felt real passion instead of casting it for his party’s nominee on reflexive partisan grounds.

Although that would the raise of awkward question of why he felt Trump was so unworthy of his vote that he was willing to toss it away on a no-shot independent, knowing that the race in his home state could be tight. Carlson voted in Florida last November, where West wasn’t even on the ballot (but apparently did receive write-in votes).

If you want a real cloak-and-dagger theory for this leak, try this one. It didn’t go unnoticed in major conservative media last week when Ben Smith of the NYT accused Carlson of being a notorious gossip with reporters, feeding them plenty of dirt on Trump and Fox News for their stories. Around the same time, another item appeared in the press claiming that Tucker was known to complain to reporters about Hannity’s undying loyalty to Trump, which jibes with the “Trumpette” comment in the excerpt above. A day later, Hannity said this on his show: “Now the big news is that some people at Fox apparently don’t like me, and said bad things about me ― gutlessly ― behind my back, according to Ben Smith and members of the media mob.” The same day, Hannity’s longtime friend Mark Levin mentioned a piece online about Smith’s story and chastised certain unnamed people for leaking to the media. “That is a serious misunderstanding of one’s role, of loyalty, and character. Let me leave it at that,” he said.

Maybe the leak to Politico about Carlson’s 2020 voting preference came from a Hannity ally as payback for Carlson allegedly badmouthing him to reporters. Although, if so, it may have backfired when Politico confirmed it with whoever gave them the quote about Hannity being a “Trumpette.”

I’ll leave you with this. Tucker isn’t a Kevin McCarthy fan but McCarthy would like him to be one before the GOP retakes the House majority and the question of who the next Speaker should be becomes salient.