It’s not every day that a television news outlet purposely invites hoaxers in order to confront them live on air about their hoax. But that’s exactly what Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson tried on Tuesday night — to incredibly bizarre results.
In the segment, Carlson hosted a man who calls himself “Dom Tullipso” and purportedly heads the group “Demand Protest,” which claims to provide paid protesters for special events. “With absolute discretion a top priority, our operatives create convincing scenes that become the building blocks of massive movements,” the group states on its website. “When you need the appearance of outrage, we are able to deliver it at scale while keeping your reputation intact.”
There’s just one problem: All of this is false. The group isn’t real. It doesn’t even have a real address. Yet the company drew conservative media attention after it put up ads claiming that it would help protest President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, leading to a takedown from Snopes.
Carlson immediately calls out the hoax at the top of the segment, telling “Tullipso,” “This is a sham. Your company isn’t real. Your website is fake. The claims you have made are lies. This is a hoax.” He added, “Let me start at the beginning, however, with your name: Dom Tullipso, which is not your real name. It’s a fake name. We ran you through law enforcement–level background checks, and that name does not exist.”
At this point, one would expect “Tullipso” to back down and acknowledge this is all a big hoax, and maybe everyone could have a round of laughs about the whole thing. But “Tullipso” sticks to his guns throughout almost the entire segment — in a bizarre bit of performance art — starting with a correction for Carlson: “It’s Dominic Tullipso. Its L’s are silent.”
He later argues that his group is necessary because “we are greatly, greatly supportive of national treasures such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Peyton Manning. And we really support their efforts to really get the truth out there.” Particularly, he said, his current client wants the release of the Roswell papers — a source of conspiracy theories about UFOs.
It’s all very weird. So why the hoax? “Tullipso” seems to reveal his motives later on in the segment: It’s an attempt to troll conservative media. “I’m just surprised you put me on. That’s what’s surprising,” he said. “God bless you for fact-checking even if you did it when we were on the air.”