The National Security Agency’s response to allegations that it is spying on Fox News host Tucker Carlson sparked a wide range of responses on Tuesday night with most people falling into one of two camps: Either they noted the carefully crafted way that the statement was constructed or they used the statement to claim that Carlson was lying.
Before getting to the responses, the following is a brief timeline of the events that transpired:
What Carlson claimed at the start of the week:
Yesterday we heard from a whistleblower within the U.S. government who reached out to warn us that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air. … The whistleblower, who is in a position to know, repeated back to us information about a story that we are working on that could have only come directly from my texts and emails. There’s no other possible source for that information, period. … The NSA captured that information without our knowledge and did it for political reasons. The Biden administration is spying on us. We have confirmed that. This morning we filed a FOIA request — Freedom of Information Act request — asking for all information that the NSA and other agencies have gathered about this show.
The NSA responded by publicly releasing a statement the moment that Carlson’s show aired on Tuesday night that claimed:
On June 28, 2021, Tucker Carlson alleged that the National Security Agency has been ‘monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.’ This allegation is untrue. Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air.
NSA has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States. With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting.
Carlson responded to the NSA’s statement by stating in-part:
Tonight’s statement from the NSA does not deny that. Instead, it comes with this non sequitur, in part, quote, ‘Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the agency.’ Okay, glad to know. But the question remains, did the Biden administration read my personal emails? That’s the question that we asked directly to NSA officials when we spoke to them about 20 minutes ago in a very heated conversation. Did you read my emails? And again, they refuse to say, again and again. And then they refused even to explain why they couldn’t answer that simple question. We can’t tell you and we won’t tell you why we can’t tell you. My emails. And the message is clear. We can do whatever we want. We can read your personal texts; we can read your personal emails; we can send veiled threats your way to brush you back if we don’t like your politics; we can do anything.
The following are a few of the top responses, responses that conveyed skepticism, to the NSA’s statement:
Read each sentence carefully. https://t.co/B3EzYj14PH
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) June 30, 2021
First, it's bizarre that @NSAGov allow no replies.
Second, NSA has used this same deceit for years: they can spy on US citizens' communications without "targeting" the American.
Third, NSA has extremely broad authorities to collect communications without "targeting" a person. https://t.co/vAgaSS0x1k
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 30, 2021
Tucker isn’t the target—only incidental to the target.
The NSA doesn’t *currently* have plans to shut down his show.
The Tucker quote is two allegations, but NSA denies it as one, the motte and bailey technique.
✅ This statement is consistent with Tucker being monitored. https://t.co/jp9WFUVEhV
— Andrew Kloster (@ARKloster) June 30, 2021
Word games here from the NSA re: Tucker Carlson’s spying claims.
The NSA can and does collect against people who are not “targets,” using the guise of “incidental collection.”
This is not a credible denial of Tucker’s claims. https://t.co/wrbzSdlcB9
— BDW (@BryanDeanWright) June 30, 2021
Defund the secret police. This attempted denial is a disgrace, as anyone who has a brain and can read clearly knows. America’s government intel agencies are corrupt, dishonest trash. https://t.co/lNPQgdjxPI
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) June 30, 2021
This is either poorly drafted or something worse.
-two distinct allegations ≠ "This allegation"
-"monitoring" ≠ "intelligence target"
-"attempt to take this show off the air" ≠ "plans to try"
Whether it's poorly drafted or something worse, it's more late stage Rome stuff. https://t.co/gMQ2cXiNt0
— Hans Mahncke (@HansMahncke) June 30, 2021
Why have you disabled replies to your tweet?
P.S. If someone is willing to spy on you, they’re probably willing to lie to you, too. https://t.co/9WtvsctM6W
— Ezra Levant 🍁 (@ezralevant) June 30, 2021
This is more or less what James Clapper said when he lied under oath to Congress in 2013. https://t.co/tibXk4Vs8Q
— Conrad Black (@ConradMBlack) June 30, 2021
Still won't say if the NSA monitored his electronic communication or not.
The language of the denial would do Sir Humphrey proud.
1. Can one be a "target", though not an "intelligence target"?
2. No, the NSA may not want to "take his program off the air"; others may, though. https://t.co/WogST5p4nZ
— Abhinav Agarwal (@AbhinavAgarwal) June 30, 2021
The following are people who either mocked Carlson or called him a liar in response to the statement:
when you're losing credibility battles with the NSA https://t.co/iG7ldzupDQ
— Philip Bump (@pbump) June 30, 2021
Now comes the part where Fox News produces the evidence, right? https://t.co/iGqily2wxO
— David Frum (@davidfrum) June 30, 2021
This is where we are as a nation where the NSA literally had to put out a statement denying Tucker Carlson's allegations. All this will do is elevate the Tucker conspiracy theory. Why didn't they just ignore this bigot?! https://t.co/GiJYq4aT6i
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) June 30, 2021
Of course. Correct. Tucker lied, believes that Lord of the Rings is a documentary and/or knows $$$ is on the flip by peddling conspiratorial crap to an audience who thinks it’s chocolate pudding. https://t.co/iOwZ0jgzJC
— Denver Riggleman (@RepRiggleman) June 30, 2021
So this is a thing that's happened. Curious what the budget for tin foil is right now in the halls of FOX News. https://t.co/Bw5xMOkDBy
— Nick Weig (@tbweig) June 30, 2021
Kudos to whichever comms director got them to eliminate the phrase "stupid piece of shit" from this statement. https://t.co/I110NjQi3C
— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) June 30, 2021
Tucker Carlson has either:
A) Been caught (again) disseminating fake news
B) Admitted that he is a foreign asset
C) Been advised he is not important enough for the "Deep State" to care about
I'm sure he'll be big mad and make that stupid constipated baby face about it though. https://t.co/tvv8ZVbfhp
— Richard Jeter (@MilesToGo13) June 30, 2021
— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) June 30, 2021
Oh look, @TuckerCarlson and @FoxNews are completely full of shit, just like I told you.@NSAGov almost never does this. This is super-rare. It's not the usual "can neither confirm nor deny," this is a flat denial.
Show us your "whistleblower," Tucker. https://t.co/1fD4QQxKe9
— John Schindler (@20committee) June 30, 2021
Although Fox News' Tucker Carlson claimed the DOD's NSA is spying on him, Pentagon correspondent Jen Griffin instead opts to ask about an actual thing that's happening: if Pentagon leaders will mark the #Afghanistan war in any public way. "Yes," Kirby says, they plan to.
— Kevin Baron (@DefenseBaron) June 29, 2021
The NSA responds to Tucker Carlson’s (baseless) claims that he was being spied on.
“This allegation is untrue. Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air.”
— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) June 30, 2021
— Mark Hertling (@MarkHertling) June 30, 2021
Settle down, Tucker. https://t.co/lDYP5dLpyo
— Eric Swalwell (@ericswalwell) June 30, 2021
Tucker Carlson is a disgrace. https://t.co/58MHe2Lxad
— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) June 30, 2021
As if any sane person needed an actual statement but good for NSA putting Tucker in his place.
Let's see contrary proof Tucker. Your move. https://t.co/4SCCSNK3Vi
— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) June 30, 2021
Kudos to the @NSAGov. This is how you address disinfo head on. Lay out the underlying facts of how the system works. The authorities, the controls, the focus.
Let’s put this in simple terms: if Tucker and Fox believe something so egregious as claimed happened, then lawyer up. https://t.co/4hC1ete2Wr
— Chris Krebs (@C_C_Krebs) June 30, 2021