- Rich Polk/Getty Images for Politicon
- The Fox News host Tucker Carlson lost his cool during an unaired interview with the Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, a recording of which was published by NowThis on Wednesday afternoon.
- Carlson was not pleased when Bregman, who studies global poverty and inequality, said Carlson was a “millionaire funded by billionaires” and that he and his network colleagues were paid to avoid discussing issues such as raising taxes on the rich.
- “Why don’t you go f— yourself, you tiny brain … moron,” Carlson yelled at Bregman.
The Fox News host Tucker Carlson lost his cool during an unaired interview with the Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, who studies global poverty and has pushed for basic income.
Carlson invited the historian on his show after Bregman went viral last month for saying on a panel at the Davos, Switzerland, economic conference that the rich should pay more in taxes.
The interview began pleasantly enough, with the conservative host praising Bregman’s argument that the global elite at the World Economic Forum are hypocritical for saying they fight climate change while flying private jets and pushing for more philanthropy while avoiding taxes.
“If I was wearing a hat I would take it off to you,” Carlson said at the beginning of his prerecorded interview with Bregman earlier this month. A leaked video of the exchange captured on a cellphone was published by NowThis on Wednesday.
But after Bregman accused Carlson of being “part of the problem” and said Fox News was funded and staffed by the same elite who refuse to discuss raising taxes on the wealthy, Carlson grew increasingly frustrated.
“The vast majority of Americans for years and years now … including Fox News viewers and including Republicans are in favor of higher taxes on the rich – higher inheritance taxes, higher top marginal tax rates, higher wealth taxes – it’s all really mainstream,” Bregman said. “But no one’s saying that at Davos just as no one’s saying that on Fox News. And the explanation for that’s quite simple, it’s that most of the people in Davos, as well as most of the people on this channel, have been bought by the billionaire class. You’re not meant to say these things.”
Bregman said President Donald Trump, who Carlson supports, refuses to make his tax returns public.
“Who knows how many billions he has hidden in the Cayman Islands or in Bermuda,” Bregman said of Trump. “So I think the issue really is one of corruption.”
The historian then said Rupert Murdoch and his family, which owns Fox News, is paying Carlson and other Fox hosts not to talk about popular proposals to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
“What the Murdochs basically want you to do is to scapegoat immigrants instead of talking about tax avoidance. So I’m glad you’re now finally raising the issue,” he said.
Watch Fox News host Tucker Carlson call one of his guests a 'tiny brain…moron' during an interview. NowThis has obtained the full segment with historian Rutger Bregman that Fox News is refusing to air. pic.twitter.com/kERYPUaGLY
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) February 20, 2019
Carlson cut in, “And I’m taking orders from the Murdochs? Is that what you’re saying?”
“No, it doesn’t work that directly,” Bregman replied. “It works by you taking their dirty money … You are a millionaire funded by billionaires – that’s what you are.”
At this point, Carlson resorted to cursing out Bregman.
“Why don’t you go f— yourself, you tiny brain – and I hope this gets picked up because you’re a moron,” Carlson said. “I tried to give you a hearing, but you were too f—ing annoying.”
“You can’t handle the criticism, can you?” Bregman said.
Bregman later tweeted the NowThis video and amended his criticism of Carlson, while urging the host to air the full interview.
“I stand behind what I said, but there’s one thing I should have done better. When Carlson asked me how he’s being influenced by Big Business and tax-avoiding billionaires, I should have quoted Noam Chomsky,” Bregman wrote. “Years ago, when he was asked a similar question, Chomsky replied: ‘I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying. But what I’m saying is that if you believe something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.'”
Bregman said he reached out to Carlson after the interview was not aired earlier this month, and Carlson again attacked him.
“I loved what you said at Davos, so I had high hopes for our interview,” Carlson wrote, according to the screenshot of an email tweeted by Bregman. “But you turned out to be far dumber, more dogmatic and less impressive than I expected.”
Carlson has in recent years framed himself as a conservative populist fighting for working- and middle-class people whose communities, he says, are being destroyed by drugs and immigration. He recently delivered a monologue in which he posited that America’s “ruling class” is pushing economic policy that refuses to acknowledge that “families are being crushed by market forces.”
He said corporations and the wealthy are getting away with paying much lower tax rates than middle-class families, but he stopped short of criticizing Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, which disproportionately benefited corporations and the wealthy.
“Libertarians are sure to call any deviation from market fundamentalism a form of socialism,” Carlson said. “That’s a lie. Socialism is a disaster. It doesn’t work. It’s what we should be working desperately to avoid. But socialism is exactly what we’re going to get, and very soon unless a group of responsible people in our political system reforms the American economy in a way that protects normal people.” He ended with a nod to Trump’s campaign slogan, “If you want to put America first, you’ve got to put its families first.”
Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.