If you want to understand the rhetorical roots of Trump’s Independence Day speech at Mount Rushmore, go back and watch Tucker Carlson’s monologues for the past six weeks.
Between the lines: Trump — or rather his speechwriter Stephen Miller — framed the president’s opposition to the Black Lives Matter protest movement using the same imagery Carlson has been laying out night after night on Fox.
Trump vs. Carlson: Below are grabs from Carlson monologues over the past month, followed by quotes from Trump’s July 3 speech.
- Carlson: “For more than a month, mobs of violent crazy people have roamed this country, terrorizing citizens and destroying things.”
- Trump: “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.”
- Carlson: “The education cartel, enforced on your children, enforces their demands.”
- Trump: “In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance.”
- Carlson: “Few people ever could have imagined that Teddy Roosevelt would be canceled. Roosevelt was the most popular president in American history.”
- Trump: “One of their political weapons is ‘Cancel Culture.'” And in a separate part of the speech, “Theodore Roosevelt exemplified the unbridled confidence of our national culture and identity. … The American people will never relinquish the bold, beautiful, and untamed spirit of Theodore Roosevelt.”
- Carlson: “For weeks we’ve asked, ‘Who will stand up for this country?’ And the answer we’re learning is Americans. Americans will. It’s up to them. Small groups of citizens are beginning to come forward to defend their laws, defend their history and their culture.”
- Trump: “They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive. But no, the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country, and all of its values, history, and culture, to be taken from them.”
- Carlson: “The Cultural Revolution has come to the West.”
- Trump: “Make no mistake: This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.”
Why it matters: Trump’s Independence Day speech lays a marker for how he’s going to campaign through to November, according to campaign advisers. Perhaps no TV host has ever had such an influential role — whether Trump’s team admits it or not — in defining a president’s re-election message.
- Flashback: Trump has told people in recent days that he regrets following some of son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner’s political advice — including supporting criminal justice reform — and will stick closer to his own instincts, three people with direct knowledge of the president’s thinking tell Axios.
Carlson has become cable news’ most-watched host ever, according to Nielsen data. He’s also its most controversial. His show has lost numerous major advertisers in the wake of boycotts over his rhetoric about the Black Lives Matter movement.
- “This may be a lot of things, this moment we are living through,” Carlson said last month of the protests. “But it is definitely not about Black lives, and remember that when they come for you. And at this rate, they will.”
The bottom line: If you want to know what Trump’s going to say next, keep an eye on Carlson’s monologues.