If President Trump was watching Fox News at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday night, he got a violently mixed messages on his order to assassinate Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, national hero, and scourge of U.S. forces.
Sean Hannity called into his own show to tell guest host Jason Chaffetz that the killing of Soleimani was "a huge victory and total leadership by the president" and "the opposite of what happened in Benghazi." Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) channeled Ronald Reagan and praised Trump's "peace through strength." Oliver North, Karl Rove, and Ari Flesischer also lauded Trump's decision.
Earlier, fellow host Tucker Carlson saw neither peace nor strength in Trump's actions. He blamed "official Washington," though, and suggested Trump had been "out-maneuvered" by more hawkish advisers who might be pushing America "toward war despite what the president wants."
"There's been virtually no debate or even discussion about this, but America appears to be lumbering toward a new Middle East war," Carlson said. "The very people demanding action against Iran tonight" are "liars, and they don't care about you, they don't care about your kids, they're reckless and incompetent. And you should keep all of that in mind as war with Iran looms closer tonight." Trump, he added, "doesn't seek war and he's wary of it, particularly in an election year." When his guest, Curt Mills of The American Conservative, said war with Iran "would be twice as bad" as the Iraq War and "if Trump does this, he's cooked," Carlson sadly concurred: "I think that's right."
Media Matters' Matt Gertz pointed out that Hannity has always been more "bellicose" than Carlson on Iran, and both men informally advise Trump off-air as well as on-air. And "if you pay attention to the impact the Fox News Cabinet has on the president," he tweeted Thursday night, "Tucker Carlson has been off for the holidays the past few days as tensions with Iran mounted." Coincidence? Maybe. But on such twists does the fate of our world turn.