NSA says Tucker Carlson has 'never been an intelligence target'

The National Security Agency called Tucker Carlson's claim that it is spying on him "untrue," but the Fox News host is sticking to his story, doubling down on the allegations during his Tuesday night show.

On Monday, Carlson maintained that a whistleblower contacted him and said the NSA is "monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air." The whistleblower, he alleged, "repeated back to us information about a story 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." This is "definitely" happening, Carlson added, claiming that he's been targeted for "political reasons."

In response, the NSA tweeted on Tuesday night that this was "untrue" and 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." The NSA clarified that it 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 U.S. citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting."

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The NSA statement came out right when Tucker Carlson Tonight came on the air, and Carlson described it as being "infuriatingly dishonest." He said he'd called the NSA director, Gen. Paul Nakasone, on Tuesday, and appeared flummoxed that Nakasone's "receptionist refused to put us through." That's when Carlson went full Karen. "We're American citizens, though, so we kept trying because it's our right," he declared. "This afternoon we got his direct line and we tried again. Nakasone's assistant seemed shocked that someone whose email the NSA is reading would dare to call the director himself."

Carlson said he finally did have a conversation with someone at the NSA about 20 minutes before going on air, called it "very heated," and groused that the spy agency "refused" to say whether it read his emails.

Carlson may think this is Earth-shattering news, but Fox News has been ignoring it — CNN found there was no coverage of his allegations on Tuesday morning, nor did it make it to the Fox News website. Also, no statements were released from top executives decrying the alleged spying. The NSA apparently doesn't get people going like CRT does.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.