Nikki Haley, Trump’s only GOP primary opponent so far, has also called compulsory competency tests for any elected officials over the age of 75, saying last week: “In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire. We’ll have term limits for Congress. And mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old.”
As for Trump’s call for “a test which would prove that you are physically capable of doing the job,” that’s a drum he started beating last month when he claimed that winning a golf tournament—that he appears to have cheated in—proved he was fit to be president again. “The reason that I announce [supposedly having won the tournament] on fabulous TRUTH is that, in a very real way, it serves as a physical exam, only MUCH tougher,” he told his Truth Social followers. “You need strength and stamina to WIN, & I have strength & stamina – most others don’t. You also need strength & stamina to GOVERN!”
As a reminder, for the majority of his life, Trump has had diet that could give cardiologists recurring nightmares, with a soft spot for Big Macs, meat loaf, and KFC. (Former White House doctor Ronny Jackson once said White House staff had to sneak vegetables into his food.) Trump has also claimed that the human body has a finite amount of energy, which physical exertion can only deplete, which is why exercise is apparently bad. (“You are going to die young because of this,” he reportedly once told an employee training for an Ironman race.)
Kevin McCarthy gives Tucker Carlson his blessing to rewrite the history of January 6
Kevin McCarthy has a long, documented history of rewriting the events of January 6, 2021, for his own professional benefit. Just a few short weeks after declaring that Donald Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters” and that “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” the GOP lawmaker traveled to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ex-president and insurrection-inciter’s ring. A few months after that, he went on national TV and lied about Trump’s knowledge of the attack on the Capitol, claiming that the president hadn’t seen the riot, and that when he found out, he moved to end it. As we also learned last year, McCarthy had privately told colleagues that Trump’s behavior on January 6 was “atrocious and totally wrong”; that Trump was at fault for “inciting people” to attack the Capitol building; and that he was going to advise Trump to resign. But he refused to support the January 6 committee’s formation, and said that any probe that didn’t also look into unrelated antifa riots and protests against police brutality was a sham. All of which is to say, he’s never been a straight operator when it comes to the insurrection, and now, he’s decided to join forces with one of the most dangerous sources of misinformation about the attack on the Capitol.
On Monday, Axios reported that McCarthy “has given Fox News’ Tucker Carlson exclusive access to 41,000 hours of Capitol surveillance footage from the Jan. 6 riot,” according to sources familiar with the matter. The outlet also revealed that “Carlson TV producers were on Capitol Hill last week to begin digging through the trove, which includes multiple camera angles from all over Capitol grounds. Excerpts will begin airing in the coming weeks.”
But wait, you say—isn’t it possible that Carlson will simply air the footage in a straightforward manner and stick to the facts of what happened on that dark day in history? And the answer is: No! Of course he won’t! How do we know this? Let’s examine the Fox host’s record on the matter:
– In 2021, Carlson produced Patriot Purge, a “documentary” about 1/6 in which he, NPR noted at the time, “strongly suggests that the insurrection was not orchestrated by former president Donald Trump’s fans, but by his foes, including violent leftist antifa groups and even the FBI and other national security divisions. He plants the idea that the siege was a ‘false flag’ operation to discredit Trump supporters.”
– That “documentary” was so off the rails and divorced from reality that Carlson was publicly criticized by his own colleagues and at least two Fox News contributors resigned in protest; even the network attempted to distance itself from the project (Patriot Purge was aired on Fox Nation).
– An actual thing Carlson said during the show: “The very same corrupt interests in Washington that pushed the Iraq war under false pretenses are now pushing the lie of a domestic white-terror army. They’re tying millions of law-abiding Americans to al-Qaida and ISIS. January 6 is being used as a pretext to strip millions of Americans—disfavored Americans—of their core constitutional rights and to defame them as domestic terrorists.”
– When not claiming 1/6 was an inside job, Carlson has dubbed the violent riot, which left people dead, “a forgettably minor outbreak by recent standards” and a mere act of “vandalism.”
– He proudly defended Fox News’ decision not to air the January 6 committee’s first prime-time hearing, saying, “This is the only hour on an American news channel that won’t be covering their propaganda live. They are lying and we are not going to help them do it.”
– Despite telling his viewers not to listen to the committee, which spent more than a year investigating the attack, he claimed in an interview with Axios, “If there was ever a question that’s in the public’s interest to know, it’s what actually happened on January 6. By definition, this video will reveal it. It’s impossible for me to understand why any honest person would be bothered by that.”
In a statement, January 6 committee chairman Bennie Thompson said, “If Speaker McCarthy has indeed granted Tucker Carlson—a Fox host who routinely spreads misinformation and [Russian president Vladimir] Putin’s poisonous propaganda—and his producers access to this sensitive footage, he owes the American people an explanation of why he has done so and what steps he has taken to address the significant security concerns at stake.”
So why is McCarthy effectively giving Carlson his blessing to no doubt use the footage to even further push baseless conspiracy theories about what “actually happened”? Playbook offered a simple theory this morning, i.e. that the House Speaker is trying to get on Carlson’s good side, “offering an olive branch to one of his most high-profile skeptics”:
It’s a strategy he has used in the past. In the previous Republican majority, McCarthy regularly received bad press from conservative outlets, with many on the right lambasting him as an establishment “RINO.” In recent years, as he sought to make allies in that community, McCarthy and his team gave such publications—as well as a select few mainstream reporters he hoped to cultivate for glowing coverage—vast access in hopes of getting positive press. For the most part, it has worked. We’ll see if it does with Carlson, too.
Yes, it’s all very pathetic, which is in line with McCarthy’s MO, one that recently saw him giving in to the demands of the House Freedom Caucus to win the Speakership vote after a very sad 14 losses. And by the way, this isn’t the first time McCarthy has made it clear that he’ll do anything for Carlson’s approval. As my colleague Molly Jong-Fast wrote earlier this month, the House select subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government was basically “the brainchild of Carlson,” who urged Republicans to establish a new Church Committee to investigate what the FBI and intelligence agencies “have been doing to control domestic politics” alongside the chyron “How Badly Does Kevin McCarthy Want This Job?”
Seems like a less-than-ideal way to run the federal government. Like, from a democracy standpoint.
George Santos says he only told people he was Jewish as “a joke”
Of all the lies George Santos has told—that have come to light thus far—two of the biggest are the dual claims that his maternal Jewish grandparents fled the Holocaust and that he himself is Jewish. On Monday, in an interview with Piers Morgan, he attempted to defend himself over the latter—rather unsuccessfully!
Insisting, once again, to have never said he was Jewish but “Jew-ish,” Santos told Morgan: “I would always say I was raised Catholic but I come from a Jewish family, so that makes me Jew-ish. It’s always been a party-favor joke, everybody’s always laughed, and now that everybody’s canceling me, everyone’s pounding down for a pound of flesh.” Morgan, who is mostly terrible but in this instance came off as relatively less terrible, responded: “Because you’re not Jewish!”