The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, published a message of support to journalist Tucker Carlson on social media late Monday following Fox News’ abrupt announcement that day that its most popular anchor would no longer work there.
Bukele suggested that Carlson would soon face a “smear” campaign and attempted censorship as “they” could not kill him without facing a significant public outcry. Bukele did not identify, either in the social media post or the attached video, who he considered to constitute “they.”
Carlson, a veteran at all three major American cable news stations, joined Fox News in 2009 and began hosting Tucker Carlson Tonight, the show that ended this week, in 2016. A year later, Fox News moved Tucker Carlson Tonight to its flagship 8:00 p.m. spot, replacing The O’Reilly Factor and succeeding it as the most-watched program on cable news by 2020. As of last year, Carlson’s program also boasted high ratings in the core 25-54 age demographic and attracted large numbers of self-identified Democrats, a rarity for Fox given its conservative slant.
Fox News announced on Monday morning that Carlson’s time on the network had concluded on Friday.
“FOX News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor,” a corporate statement read. “Mr. Carlson’s last program was Friday April 21. Fox News Tonight will air live at 8 PM/ET starting this evening as an interim show helmed by rotating FOX News personalities until a new host is named.”
In addition to the primetime show, Carlson produced a series of “Originals,” documentaries, on the network and hosted an interview program titled Tucker Carlson Today, which Bukele appeared on in December.
The Salvadoran president shared a clip of his appearance on the program in which he discussed the potential physical threats that those who defy unspecified powers that be feel. Bukele explained that he feels “safer” from assassination by expressing himself freely and thus making himself a more problematic person to “eliminate,” and suggested that Carlson had also reached such a level that censorship and “smears” are more effective than violence.
They can’t eliminate @TuckerCarlson, so they will try to smear him, censor him and get him off the air. pic.twitter.com/l0bj2ZVzPM
— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) April 25, 2023
“Part of staying safe is coming out in public and saying the things,” Bukele told Carlson. “They have been censoring all of these people because it’s easier than just go[ing] and eliminat[ing] every person saying bad things about them, it’s too hard.”
“They haven’t done anything to you,” Bukele told Carlson, “and that’s because you’re saying the things you want to say. It would be too expensive for them – it’s cheaper for them to smear you, to say bad things about you, to have people think you’re a bad person, which you’re not, but it’s easier for them to do those things.”
“Going straight and eliminating you, that would be too messy and it would probably be against their own plans, so I really think that one way of staying safe is being true to yourself,” he concluded.
Carlson’s conservative, though often unpredictably so, commentary on television has invited violence against him in the past. While no public information exists on any organized assassination attempts, Carlson experienced a mob attack in 2018 by a radical leftist group. The mob surrounded Carlson’s home and attempted to break in, destroying his front door and vandalizing the outside of the home and his car. Carlson’s wife was home at the time of the mob attack, though the host was not. Prior to the mob attack, a Marxist group called “Smash Racism DC” published a message on social media to Carlson: “Tonight, we remind you that you are not safe.”
Bukele, who won the position of president of El Salvador campaigning as a youthful Millennial outsider, regularly comments on American cultural and political issues, often in support of conservatives despite his history as a former member of El Salvador’s leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party. Bukele has, in particular, condemned the criminal procedures against former President Donald Trump, suggesting this month’s indictment of the former president in New York was an attempt to silence a political opposition leader that Washington would condemn if it happened abroad.
“Think what you want about former President Trump and the reasons he’s being indicted,” Bukele wrote on Twitter at the time. “But just imagine if this happened in any other country, where a government arrested the main opposition candidate.”
America’s “ability to use ‘democracy’ as foreign policy is gone,” he concluded.
In a similar message last year following the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s lavish Florida estate, Bukele asked, “What would the US Government say, if OUR police raided the house of one of the main possible contenders of OUR 2024 presidential election?”
Trump joined Bukele on Monday in supporting Carlson.
“The fact that Tucker Carlson will no longer be on FoxNews is a big blow to Cable News, and to America,” Trump, popularly known as an avid cable news viewer, said in a statement late Monday. “Tucker was insightful, interesting, and ratings gold. He will be greatly missed!”
Carlson has yet to comment publically on the situation at press time but has not indicated that he intends to retire from public commentary. The journalist updated his Twitter profile on Monday with a new website containing highlights of his recent television segments that offers visitors an option to stay updated on his next career moves.
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