Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who strangely seems to have taken the place of Donald Trump’s national security advisor on a bizarre last-minute trip to the Korean Peninsula’s Demilitarized Zone for a meet-and-greet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, has some thoughts about human rights abuses, including murder.
Carlson, who traveled with Trump’s entourage to the DMZ while National Security Advisor John Bolton was dispatched to Mongolia, phoned in to Fox & Friends on Sunday to answer questions about Trump’s encounter with Kim, which the U.S. president called a “great honor.”
Fox & Friends co-host Pete Hegseth asked his colleague at Trump TV if the president’s apparent admiration of the murderous dictator was real.
“Oh, I think it is. I mean it’s certainly sincere on Trump’s part. I mean, it’s absolutely sincere. He’s totally unembarrassed to say I kind of like Kim…KJU as they call him here, I kind of like him. You know…whatever you think of that, there’s never been a president that’s been willing to be that blunt,” Carlson said.
Of course, there’s a reason no other sitting U.S. president has set foot on North Korean soil or met with the country’s leaders, something that North Korea has sought for two decades. Technically, the two countries are still at war, North Korea is developing nuclear weapons that could strike the U.S. mainland, and the country commits extreme human rights abuses, for starters. Today, however, Trump just invited Kim to the White House, which will be seen as a major public relations victory for North Korea.
Back at Fox & Friends, co-host Jillian Mele brought up Kim’s human rights abuses.
“President Trump recently made a comment about having a certain type of good chemistry with Kim Jong Un...But when you’re talking about someone who has been responsible for so many human rights abuses, does he run a risk with that kind of language of, A, coming off to Kim Jong Un like he’s pandering to him to an extent, or B, upsetting the American public that elected a president that they want to stand firm and be tough on those human rights violations...?” Mele asked.
Carlson acknowledged that “there’s no defending the North Korean regime,” which he called “the last really Stalinist regime in the world.” But then he argued that being a leader means you have to kill people.
“On the other hand,” Carlson continued, “you know, you got to be honest about what it means to lead a country—it means killing people. Not on the scale that the North Koreans do, but a lot of countries commit atrocities, including a number that we’re closely allied with.”
He added that “it’s not necessarily a choice between, you know, the evil people and the great people, it’s a choice most of the time between the bad people and the worse people.”
“It’s just kind of the nature of life, and certainly the nature of power,” he said.
That was a similar argument that Trump put forth about Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017 during an interview with Bill O’Reilly, formerly of Fox News. O’Reilly noted that “Putin is a killer,” to which Trump responded, “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers.” He added: “Well, you think our country is so innocent?”
Trump made the same argument on MSNBC’s Morning Joe as a presidential candidate in 2015. Co-host Joe Scarborough noted that Putin “kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries,” to which Trump replied, “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” referring to President Barack Obama.
Pressed again about the killing of journalists, Trump responded at the time, “Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe.”
While in South Korea, Carlson interviewed Trump for Fox News, which is expected to air on Monday night.