Tucker Carlson’s reaction to fellow Fox News host Sean Hannity’s apparent criticism of his populist worldview set tongues wagging on Tuesday night.
Carlson goes after corporatocracy: In a fiery rant on his eponymous show, Carlson slammed Amazon founder and CEO Bezos for making a record-breaking $13 billion in one day while Americans faced economic hardship and uncertainty.
- “Millions of Americans remain out of work; many more are draining their savings; once the government stops paying a huge portion of the population to stay at home, we don’t know what will happen,” he said.
- “But at least one person has become extremely rich, richer than any man in history, from all of this, including a lot of the suffering. That would be Amazon CEO, Democratic donor, owner of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos.”
- “Twenty years ago, if that had happened, if a captain of industry had made $13 billion in a single day while the country got poorer, the Democratic party would have had something to say about it,” he continued.
- “Not anymore, because the people getting rich are members of the Democratic party.”
Carlson went on to discuss with Spectator USA editor Chadwick Moore how, in the host’s words, “something is skewed with the system.”
- He then wrapped the show and handed off to Hannity, whose show follows Carlson’s in prime time.
Hannity defends the “free market”: Hannity took the opportunity to seemingly dispute Carlson’s criticisms of Bezos in the preceding segment.
- “People can make money, they provide goods and services people want, need, and desire? That’s America,” he said.
- “It’s called freedom, capitalism, and as long as it’s honest, right? People decide.”
- “Alright, Tucker, great show,” Hannity concluded before launching into his opening monologue.
Carlson, whose show recently surpassed Hannity’s as the highest-rated cable news program in history, said nothing but appeared perturbed by his colleague’s unsolicited commentary.
Hannity v. Carlson? Social media users quickly took note of exchange, with many suggesting a feud was brewing between the two men.
Some zoomed in on Carlson’s famously expressive face while Hannity was speaking.
Emily Larsen, a politics reporter for the Washington Examiner, called the televised tension “Super awkward” but also “New populist right vs. free market conservatism in a nutshell.”
Commenting on a clip of the handoff that was posted to Twitter by the Daily Caller, Carlson’s former news site, Hannity apologized “for any misunderstanding to Tucker and the fox audience.”
- Hannity went on to say he had only meant to reiterate Carlson’s support for “honest capitalism” and claimed not to have heard most of the segment in question.
New orthodoxies: Hannity and Carlson’s apparent ideological divergence echoed a long-brewing schism between traditional free-market conservatives and an ascendant populist right, which has been more skeptical of capitalism and more amenable to activist government.
- Under the “America First’ presidency of Donald Trump, Carlson has emerged as a leading voice of the populists, with many Republicans touting him as a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate.
- Meanwhile, establishment conservatives like David French of The Dispatch, who almost ran against Trump in 2016, have warned that Tucker’s insurgency could produce “worse dysfunction” than what it replaces.