Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Wednesday that he was “unmasked” and accused the National Security Agency of reading the emails in which he negotiated an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin and then leaking them to news outlets.
How we got here: Late last month, Carlson accused the NSA of monitoring his emails in an effort to find damaging information that could result in his show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” being pulled off the air. The NSA denied Carlson’s claims in a statement, saying he “has never been an intelligence target.”
Carlson criticized the statement, arguing that does not deny his allegations that the agency read his emails. He also accused the White House of ignoring the story.
On Wednesday, the Fox News host said he had learned the previous day that the contents of his emails have been leaked to the press.
“Sources in the so-called intelligence community told at least one reporter in Washington what was in those emails, my emails,” Carlson said.
He did not point to any reporter or outlet, but Axios reported earlier in the day, citing unnamed sources, that Carlson was in communications with “US-based Kremlin intermediaries” about a potential interview with the Russian president.
“As I’ve said repeatedly, because it’s true, the NSA read my emails, and then leaked their contents. That’s an outrage, as well as illegal,” Carlson told the outlet.
Fox News also responded to the report, saying that, “We support any of our hosts pursuing interviews and stories free of government interference.”
Carlson confirmed that he was looking to secure an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Late this spring, I contacted a couple of people I thought could help us get an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I told nobody I was doing this other than my executive producer, Justin Wells,” he said.
“I wasn’t embarrassed about trying to interview Putin,” Carlson went on. “He’s obviously newsworthy. I’m an American citizen, I can interview anyone I want, and I plan to. But still, in this case, I decided to keep it quiet. I figured that any kind of publicity would rattle the Russians and make the interview less likely to happen. But the Biden administration found out anyway by reading my emails,” Carlson continued.
He then said that a “whistleblower” told him the NSA intended to leak his emails to the media to “paint me as a disloyal American, a Russian operative (I’ve been called that before), a stooge of the Kremlin, a traitor doing the bidding of a foreign adversary.”
“By law, I should have been identified internally merely as a US journalist, or American journalist. That’s the law,” Carlson said. “But that’s not how I was identified, I was identified by name. I was unmasked. People in the building learned who I was, and then my name and the contents of my emails left that building at the NSA and wound up with a news organization in Washington. That is illegal. In fact, it is precisely what this law was designed to prevent in the first place … We cannot have intelligence agencies used as instruments of political control.”
Carlson urged NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to reveal who requested for his alleged unmasking.
“You can’t have a democracy in a place where unaccountable spy agencies keep people in line by leaking the contents of their emails, discrediting them with their own emails, which they thought were private,” he said. “You can’t. It doesn’t work if you allow that.”
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