Tucker Carlson, the far-right media personality who was fired by Fox News earlier this year, claimed without evidence this week that the United States is “speeding towards” the assassination of former President Donald Trump — a comment that has started to gain traction with prominent voices on the conservative fringe.
In an interview with the comedian and podcaster Adam Carolla, Carlson was asked to comment on what “the future holds” for Trump, who is leading the field for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. Carlson proceeded to rail against the fact that the former president was twice impeached and faces four indictments.
“If you begin with criticism, then you go to protest, then you go to impeachment, now you go to indictment and none of them work. What’s next? Graph it out, man. We’re speeding towards assassination, obviously. … They have decided — permanent Washington, both parties have decided — that there’s something about Trump that’s so threatening to them, they just can’t have him,” Carlson said in the interview, which was posted online Wednesday.
Carlson's lawyer did not provide comment for this article.
The comments have been picked up by other media personalities on the far right, including conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and former Fox News host Dan Bongino, who now posts content on Rumble, an online video platform known for hosting far-right personalities. The comments also circulated on the pro-Trump internet forum Patriots.win, also known as TheDonald.
Jones, who made similar comments about a hypothetical assassination earlier this year, discussed Carlson’s remarks on his show, Infowars.
The most recent episode of Bongino’s podcast is titled “Speeding Towards Assassination?” In the episode description published on the Apple Podcasts platform, he asserts without evidence that the “plot to take out Trump is metastasizing.” Bongino’s show is among the most popular on podcasts in Apple’s rankings, according to Chartable, a podcast analytics company.
In far-right and conspiratorial circles, Trump has long been presented as the target of a vast plot orchestrated in part by Washington’s “deep state” as well as the Democratic establishment and the news media. The former president has embraced this worldview, referring to himself as a “victim” and the center of a “witch hunt.”
Daniel Jones, the president of the nonpartisan research organization Advance Democracy, said Carlson’s comments are an example of the kind of rhetoric that can incite real-world violence.
“Those of us who follow and track extremism have seen that the rhetoric around the indictments of Trump is very similar to the rhetoric we saw prior to the Capitol insurrection,” Jones said. “I think everyone in this space is concerned about what the next 12 to 18 months look like.”
Carlson’s remarks came a week after he hosted an interview with Trump that was uploaded to X, the social media service formerly known as Twitter. In that interview, which was posted during the first debate of the Republican presidential primary, Carlson asked Trump whether he was “worried that they’re going to try and kill you.”
“Why wouldn’t they try and kill you? Honestly,” Carlson asked. In response, Trump said: “They’re savage animals. They’re people that are sick.”
Carlson was fired by Fox News in April days after the network and its parent company agreed to pay almost $800 million to Dominion Voting Systems to avert a high-stakes defamation trial. The network did not provide a public explanation for why he was ousted. He was one of the network’s biggest stars and widely seen as one of the leading figures in a conservative movement reshaped by the rise of Trump. In the wake of his departure, Carlson started posting episodes of a new political commentary show on X.
Trump faced an assassination attempt during a campaign rally in Las Vegas in June 2016, a month before he formally secured the GOP presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Michael Sandford, a 20-year-old British man, tried to grab a police officer’s gun at the campaign event and told authorities he wanted to kill Trump.
Four presidents have been assassinated while in office, and two were wounded in assassination attempts. Trump's immediate predecessors faced various violent threats on their lives.
Carlson faced intense scrutiny last year when extremism experts drew a link between his on-air statements and the "great replacement" white nationalist views espoused by a gunman who killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York.
He also attracted fierce criticism for spreading political misinformation, supporting conspiracy theories about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, minimizing the severity of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and attacking journalists at other outlets.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com