Last updated on November 15th, 2023 at 10:39 pm
Tucker Carlson, former Fox News personality, took on the role of moderator at a Republican candidates’ forum held in Des Moines, Iowa.
The event, hosted by the Family Leader and The Blaze, featured several major non-Trump GOP presidential candidates, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Senator Tim Scott, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. Each candidate had their section, with Carlson spending approximately half an hour with each of them.
Carlson’s moderation style was marked by controversial questions and the inclusion of his own anti-Ukraine, anti-vaccine, and Jan. 6 views.
He raised contentious topics during the discussions, targeting different candidates with specific inquiries. For instance, he pressed Sen. Tim Scott on issues such as the US-Mexico border, fentanyl smuggling, and the Russia/Ukraine conflict. With Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Carlson addressed the governor’s past controversial actions regarding transgender issues and his stance on the current border crisis. When engaging with former Vice President Mike Pence, Carlson questioned Pence about his role in blocking Donald Trump’s attempt to remain in power after losing the 2020 election and his support for Ukraine in countering Russian aggression.
Des Moines became the platform where Carlson could bring his conspiracy theories to the forefront. Despite his recent departure from Fox News and his inability to spread his views there, Carlson made sure his anti-Ukraine, anti-vaccine, and Jan. 6 perspectives became the central topics of discussion at this crucial Republican candidates’ forum on the road to the Iowa Republican caucuses.
During the event, Carlson’s line of questioning drew both support and criticism from the audience. Donna Jost, a retiree from Morton, Illinois, appreciated Carlson’s focus on American support for Ukraine, as she believes NATO should not exist. On the other hand, Joan Bundt, an attendee who values the Family Leader summits, found Carlson’s questions offensive, expressing disappointment that he did not address other important conservative issues like abortion or school vouchers.
It is worth noting that Carlson’s firing from Fox News, following the network’s settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over a defamation lawsuit, played a role in shaping his approach as a moderator. He had previously propagated false claims about the company’s voting machines being involved in a plot to steal the 2020 election. These claims, along with Carlson’s rhetoric, contributed to the anger that fueled the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
One of the standout moments of the forum was Carlson’s interview with former Vice President Mike Pence. In an attempt to elicit a specific response, Carlson probed Pence’s support for arming Ukraine’s defense forces. Despite being the target of pro-Trump supporters during the Capitol riot for refusing to overturn the election results, Pence seemed to cater to Carlson’s views on Jan. 6 during the discussion. He referred to it as a riot rather than an insurrection, which pleased the former Fox News host.
Pence’s approach to the Capitol riot was in contrast to his previous statements and underscored the influence of Carlson’s focus on obscuring the reality of that day. While Pence did acknowledge that Trump’s words endangered him, his family, and others present at the Capitol, his rhetoric during the event was aimed at avoiding any contentious stance on the riot. This departure from his earlier responses to false claims highlights the impact of the forum and Carlson’s line of questioning.
At last, Tucker Carlson’s role as a moderator at the GOP candidates forum in Iowa was marked by controversial questions and the promotion of his own anti-Ukraine, anti-vaccine, and Jan. 6 views. His firing from Fox News influenced his approach, and he seized the opportunity to make conspiracy theories the primary topics of discussion.
The reactions from candidates and the audience varied, with some supporting Carlson’s focus and others finding it offensive. The event showcased the impact of Carlson’s presence and the influence of his conspiracy-laden perspective in the political sphere.