On Tuesday, Tucker Carlson opened his Fox News show by reviewing the “evidence,” after months of allegations and bitter left-leaning cable news hysteria, that Russia conspired, perhaps with now-President Donald Trump’s help, to engineer the Republican’s November presidential win — by, in short, asserting that “There’s no reason to believe that Russia changed the course of American political history.” Then, after savagely indicting NBC News for its obvious attempt to tip the scales in Hillary Clinton’s favor by releasing the Access Hollywood Trump tape to the Washington Post two days before the second presidential debate, Carlson asked a far more important question: “What do you think played a bigger role in the 2016 race: The Access Hollywood tape or the Russian government.” Answer: “That’s an obvious one.”
Transcript (bolds are mine throughout this post):
TUCKER CARLSON: Well, good evening and welcome to Tucker Carlson Tonight.
The theory that Russia won the November general election for Donald Trump through some vague meddling so dominates cable news right now that it’s worth summing up exactly what we know, and what we don’t know, about that story.
As of today, there is no evidence that the Russian government tampered with voting machines or hacked any votes in November. There is no evidence that Russia collaborated with Donald Trump or his campaign to win the election. There’s no evidence that Russian propaganda swung a single vote away from Hillary Clinton.
There is, in other words, reason to believe that Russia changed the course of American political history. There’s merely innuendo, and conspiracy-mongering, and collecting probably irrelevant dots.
Lee Harvey Oswald spent time in Mexico City? Okay, but what does that mean exactly? Nothing significant that we know of.
So why does this story persist, indeed grow by the day? One reason is that organizations like NBC News and particularly its cable outlet, MSNBC, have gone to remarkable lengths to keep it alive.
In footage not shown in this post, Carlson played a series of short snips from MSNBC shows, featuring the likes of Al Sharpton, Chris Matthews, and of course Rachel Maddow, with stirring, unsupported phrases like “tantalizing evidence” and “continuing collusion.” As Carlson indicated, the Trump-Russia conspiracy-mongering has thus far been intensely irritating sound and fury, demonstrating nothing.
Carlson then went to the issue of who really placed their thumbs on the 2016 presidential campaign scale, and who really tried to force a victorious outcome for their favored candidate:
TUCKER CARLSON: Well, it turns out that there’s more than a little irony here.
Complaints from NBC about election meddling? Given that company’s conduct over the past six months, that is a bit rich.
Consider the infamous Access Hollywood tape. Now, if you are living in America last fall, you certainly remember it: The shocking and vulgar remarks, the immediate and disastrous effect that tape had on the candidate Trump’s poll numbers. It was a political bomb detonated in the final days of the most intense political race of our lifetimes. The fallout was so overwhelming that few paused to consider where that tape came from.
So, let’s consider that now. That tape belonged to NBC. It was shot by NBC cameramen for an NBC show on NBC property. So, how did it wind up in the hands of The Washington Post, which broke the story? How, in other words, did valuable intellectual property from one news organization end up benefiting a competitor?
Intentionally. That’s the short answer.
According to sources at NBC, the Access Hollywood tape was leaked to the Washington Post with the full knowledge of NBC brass. That would include news edition head Andrew Lack. NBC’s motive? To derail the Trump campaign two days before a presidential debate.
Now, keep in mind that the Access Hollywood tape had been sitting in an archive since it was shot 11 years before. NBC executives had known about its existence since at least last summer, months before it aired. Concerned about being accused of partisanship, and perhaps worried about California’s strict wiretapping law which prohibits the recording of subjects without their knowledge, the network sat on it.
But as November approached, the temptation to shut down the Trump campaign became too much. And so NBC rose to the defense of Hillary Clinton and leaked that tape. And then they lied about it.
Now if you’re a news organization and someone stole the story of the year out of your office, wouldn’t you want to know how that happened? You’d think you would.
And yet as far as we can tell, NBC News has never conducted a meaningful internal investigation into how that tape wound up at the Washington Post. That’s because they already knew the identity of the leaker: It was them.
Now all of this is more or less common knowledge, or at least commonly suspected, in the tiny world of the TV news business. As we said, Andrew Lack knew about it. So apparently did Today Show anchor Matt Lauer.
And yet until now nobody bothered to tell the public. We’re doing that.
By the way, we asked Lauer, and Lack and the NBC PR department for their response to all of this earlier today. They declined comment.
So the obvious question hangs in the air, since we’ve been talking so much lately about election tampering, and it’s this: What do you think played a bigger role in the 2016 race: The Access Hollywood tape or the Russian government? That’s an obvious one.
Just because NBC’s effort failed and Donald Trump won anyway doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. NBC News lied to the public to destroy a politician they didn’t like.
We know that. We know they wouldn’t do it again — do we? Do we know they’re not doing it now? Unfortunately we don’t know that.
Slightly contradicting Carlson, but substantively corroborating NBC’s plan to destroy Trump, shortly after the second debate — during which Trump saved his candidacy by bringing out Bill Clinton’s sexual harassment and assault victims and out-debating Hillary Clinton under the most intense pressure imaginable — TMZ reported that “NBC execs had a plan to time the release of the Donald Trump audio to have maximum impact on both the 2nd presidential debate and the general election,” and that their plan all along, after holding it “because it was too early in the election … was to roll out the tape 48 hours before the debate so it would dominate the news cycle leading up to the face-off.”
Lauer’s possible involvement in or association with the enterprise is a relatively recent development, reported on February 23 at the New York Post:
“The tape was leaked by the NBC News division, by somebody at the ‘Today’ show,” says one source. “NBC News knew for a while about the existence of the tape. Billy (Bush) himself had told them about it. People in the news division became frustrated that ‘Access Hollywood’ was taking too long to air it and decided it had to come out.”
“Access” had been working on airing a sanitized version of the tape, which revealed Trump’s comments but protected Bush by editing out his. But the full tape, which was leaked to the Washington Post, featured Bush goading the president. The leak got Bush fired from “Today,” which was, according to the source, part of the plan.
“The leaked tape served a dual purpose: It helped get Bush out of the way — Matt Lauer didn’t like him and felt he was a liability — and NBC thought it would derail Trump,” says the source. “But all it did was crush Billy, and, ironically, his own network was behind it.”
The leaker is still at NBC and has not been disciplined, says the source, who adds, “There was no investigation, no internal witch hunt by NBC into who leaked the tape. It served their purposes.”
The Access Hollywood tape led many Republican and conservative pundits and politicians to call for Trump to withdraw his candidacy. Instead, Trump fought back.
The supreme irony here is that NBC, after many years of TV-related associations with Trump, must have thought that it knew him well enough to believe that he couldn’t beat back their clearly orchestrated sabotage.
Surely one of the reasons NBC is currently so especially intent on discrediting Trump and his administration with Russian connections which haven’t been shown to exist is their fury at having so completely underestimated the billionaire’s will to fight back by any and every means at crunch time.
Cross-posted, with revisions, at NewsBusters.org.