NSA Responds to Tucker Carlson's Spying Claims

Fox News host said he'd 'confirmed' that was happening, but agency says nope
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2021 10:30 AM CDT
NSA: No, We're Not Spying on Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson is seen in a Fox News Channel studio on March 2, 2017, in New York.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Tucker Carlson is claiming the US government is reading his private emails in an attempt to take his show off the air. "The Biden administration is spying on us," the host of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight said on Monday's show. "We have confirmed that." After little coverage elsewhere on the network, Carlson continued his explosive claim into Tuesday, just as the National Security Agency issued a sharp denial. The background:

  • Exposed emails: Carlson said a government whistleblower reached out on Sunday to inform him that the NSA "is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air." He said the whistleblower identified contents of messages related to a developing story, which "could have only come directly from my texts and emails."

  • Silence from Fox execs: If Fox News had really confirmed all this, and in a day no less, it would be a big deal, CNN reports, acknowledging the significance of the recent disclosure that the Justice Department under President Trump had secretly seized reporters' phone records. Many major news outlets spoke out in that case. But there was little coverage of Carlson's claim on Fox News itself, and no statement from top executives.
  • Press freedom groups quiet: Nor were there statements of support from press freedom groups, Erik Wemple writes at the Washington Post, seeing this as "a testament to just how far the credibility of Tucker Carlson Tonight has cratered." Pen America CEO Suzanne Nossel tells Wemple that the nonprofit will wait for further details as Carlson's "record for veracity, as assessed by credible fact-checking sources, is poor."
  • NSA denial: Just before Tuesday's episode, the NSA put out a statement denying Carlson's claims. "Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air," it read, noting the NSA generally "may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting."

  • Hits at NSA director: Carlson resumed the subject within minutes, telling his audience of millions that the agency hadn't denied that it read his emails without permission, per Fox News. He also described tense phone calls with the NSA and failed attempts to reach President Trump-appointed Director Gen. Paul Nakasone, whom Carlson called a "highly political left-wing four-star general."
  • And the White House: "Did the Biden administration read my emails? NSA officials refuse to say," Carlson said. "The Biden administration, for its part, ignored the story. They did not deny it. They can't. They know it's true." Earlier Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said "everyone's aware" that the NSA "focuses on foreign threats and individuals who are attempting to do us harm on foreign soil," before directing questions to the intelligence community.
  • Call for transparency: "Spying on opposition journalists is incompatible with democracy … This is scary and we need to stop it right away," Carlson added, per USA Today. He's now calling on Congress to "force transparency" on intelligence agencies, though he appears to have made no such demand following the revelation that Trump's DOJ seized the records of journalists from the New York Times and other outlets.
(More Tucker Carlson stories.)

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