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Tucker Carlson had a total meltdown when a guest criticized Fox News

Carlson to historian Rutger Bregman: “Go fuck yourself.”

Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, has lately been trying to rebrand himself as a different kind of conservative — one who’s open to government intervention to help American workers, who cares more about stable families than free markets and low taxes, and who opposes both immigration and laissez-faire economics as forces hurting the American working class.

That, I suppose, explains why he offered to have Rutger Bregman on his show. Bregman is a Dutch leftist writer and historian who shot to stardom after he told attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland — to their faces — that their taxes needed to go up, saying, “It feels like I’m at a firefighters conference and no one’s allowed to speak about water, right? Just stop talking about philanthropy and start talking about taxes.”

That fits well with Carlson’s new brand. But Bregman is also a vocal advocate of open borders and views Carlson’s change of heart as a convenient last-minute bait and switch by a right-wing network that’s ultimately out for its own interests. So their interview went … well, just watch:

The interview starts off calmly enough, but ends with Carlson telling Bregman to “go fuck yourself”:

BREGMAN: You’re a millionaire funded by billionaires. That’s what you are. I’m glad you finally now jumped the bandwagon of people like Bernie Sanders and AOC, but you’re not part of the solution, Mr. Carlson. You’re part of the problem, actually.

CARLSON: But AOC — but could I just say, and …

BREGMAN: It’s true, right? That all the anchors on Fox …

CARLSON: You would have to be a moron …

BREGMAN: … they’re all millionaires! How is this possible? Well, it’s very easy, you’re just not talking about certain things.

CARLSON: Fox doesn’t even play where you are!

BREGMAN: “It doesn’t play where you are”? Well, have you heard of the internet? I can watch things, whatever I want, you know.

CARLSON: You haven’t even seen Fox before!

BREGMAN: I have, actually. I can’t say I’m a great fan of your show, but I do my homework when you invite me on your show. So you’re probably not going to air this.

CARLSON: I doubt it.

BREGMAN: But I went to Davos to speak truth to power, and I’m doing exactly the same thing right now. You may not like it but you’re a millionaire funded by billionaires, and that’s the reason why you’re not talking about these issues.

CARLSON: But I am talking about these issues.

BREGMAN: But only now, come on, you jumped the bandwagon. You’re like, “Oh, I’m against the globalist elite, blah blah blah.” It’s not very convincing, to be honest.

CARLSON: I want to say to you — why don’t you go fuck yourself, you tiny brain — and I hope this gets picked up because you’re a moron, I tried to give you a hearing but you were too fucking annoying …

BREGMAN: You can’t handle the criticism, can you?

If Carlson had actually read Bregman’s book Utopia for Realists, or read his interview with Vox where he condemns right-wing anti-immigrant populists like Donald Trump and Geert Wilders (and, by extension, Carlson), none of this would be surprising. Matching him up against Carlson — who has railed against “gypsies,” decried immigrants for making America “dirtier” and California a “third-world country,” and said that America’s changing racial demographics represent “more change than human beings are designed to digest” — was bound to end in a fight, one for which Carlson apparently wasn’t prepared.

Before the video leaked, Bregman posted an email from Carlson’s staff calling Bregman an “asshole”:

For what it’s worth, a landmark paper in the American Economic Review in 2017 found that Fox News meaningfully shifts votes to Republicans in presidential elections, and that the network chooses to be more right-wing than it would be to maximize viewership. That is: The network’s billionaire owners and the management they’ve selected appear to be sacrificing some number of viewers, and potentially some amount of profit, in order to persuade more people to vote Republican and hold conservative beliefs.

I doubt they’re merely doing that to get tax cuts for Rupert Murdoch and the network’s other rich shareholders. But Bregman isn’t raising the possibility out of nowhere.

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