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Live From Brazil: A Clueless Tucker Carlson

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Last year, Tucker Carlson traveled to Budapest to celebrate Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s aggressively illiberal and xenophobic prime minister, by filming a week of episodes that included “lessons” the United States could draw from his anti-democratic, immigration-restrictionist rule. In a sit-down interview, Carlson nodded approvingly as Orbán railed against “post-Christian, post-national societies­” and their “very risky” mixture of Muslim and Christian communities. This week, Carlson visited another country undergoing an alarming democratic erosion and fawned over its far-right ruler: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.

Broadcasting from both Rio de Janeiro and the capital, Brasília, Carlson has been urging his viewers to pay attention to what’s happening there. This October, Brazilians will go to the polls to either reelect Bolsonaro or cast him out of office. Carlson was there to insist that Bolsonaro isn’t the villain he seems to be in much stateside coverage. “Guess what, this will shock you: Bolsonaro bears no resemblance whatsoever to the descriptions of Bolsonaro you have read in the New York Times—completely different person,” Carlson said in a teaser of his sit-down interview with Bolsonaro, which aired Thursday night. “Seen that before?”

Though he doesn’t explicitly say it, Carlson’s goal with these field trips is to rehabilitate the images of reactionary leaders who have rightfully earned international scorn. But by parachuting into Brazil without any apparent grasp of its politics and culture, Carlson ended up on a sort of confirmation-bias egg hunt: finding evidence everywhere that the real threats in global stability are coming from the liberal internationalist order.

Carlson clearly believes the press unfairly picks on antidemocratic leaders like Bolsonaro—and presumably guys like Orbán, Trump, and maybe even Putin—because of what they get right with the power in their hands rather than their misdeeds. According to Carlson, for example, the Hungarian prime minister “thinks families are more important than banks. He believes countries need borders. For saying these things out loud, Orbán has been vilified.” Bolsonaro, according to Carlson, has been the target of so much animus because he is at heart a nationalist, which places him at odds with the “globalist” agenda in general and China’s hegemonic aspirations in particular.

Highlighting the latter was Carlson’s putative aim in Brazil. In addition to his interviews with Bolsonaro and those........

© New Republic

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