Fox News host Tucker Carlson and defense policy expert Max Boot got into a petty spat on Wednesday in what appeared as more of a personal grudge match rather than an informative debate on policy — but then again, productive discussions should not be sought out on "Tucker Carlson Tonight."
It all began because, on Tuesday night, Carlson got heated with retired Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters who likened Carlson to an Adolf Hitler sympathizer — because the Fox News host questioned how much of an actual threat Russian President Vladimir Putin is to the country and suggested that it may be a good idea that Russia and the U.S. work together in Syria to defeat the Islamic State.
Carlson and Boot went back and forth over various topics of foreign policy including Syria, Russia, Iran and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. However, little of the debate had to do with policy approaches, as they both simply bashed each other more than principles of their arguments.
"I think it's fair to disagree about whether or not cooperating with Russia in the fight against ISIS is a good idea. But to dismiss anyone who doesn't share your view as a Nazi sympathizer seems cheap in a short cut and really," Carlson said.
Boot responded saying he disagreed with Peters' assessment from the previous night, but said he was "very disturbed" to see Carlson "and Mark Steyn yukking it up over the fact that Putin is interfering and meddling in our election process. Undermining the sanctity of our elections to try to get Donald Trump elected."
"First of all, I'm sorry that laughter disturbs you," Carlson replied sarcastically.
But Boot insisted it was not a laughing matter and rather, "an insult in our democracy." Carlson then said he understood Boot's point. "You can debate whether or not what he [Donald Trump Jr.] did is a crime or in violation of the espionage act, but to dismiss people who disagree with you as immoral which is, your habit, isn't a useful form of debate, it's a kind of moral preening, and it's little odd coming from you, who really has been consistently wrong in the most flagrant and flamboyant way for over a decade."
When Boot asked what Carlson thought he was wrong about, the two got into a debate over who was more wrong about the 2003 invasion of Iraq — they both supported it at the time. "I would be happy to hold up my record of foreign policy against yours. By the way, to underline the fact, you supported the Iraq war and then when it went bad you opposed it. It doesn’t take any moral courage or perspicacity," Boot said.
"You are a moral authority. You are a religious figure now actually," Carlson responded sarcastically.
When the conversation changed to the topic of Syria, things only proceeded to get worse. Boot said "Russia is trying to further the murderous Bashar Assad regime." He also accused Carlson of taking a "pro-Iranian line" when the Fox News host asked him "how many Americans in the United States have been murdered by terrorists backed by Iran since 9/11?"
"I am a cheerleader for Russia and Iran. This is exactly the style of debate that prevents people from taking you seriously," Carlson said. "Is it pro-Iranian to ask a question? You're humiliating yourself, Max. Why don't you answer the questions?" Carlson said.
"You Tucker are ridiculous. Okay?" Boot replied."I think you're too smart for this," Boot said when Carlson expressed his disagreement with President Donald Trump's cruise missile strike on Syria in April.
"You know, your lack of moral judgment is tiresome to me. Your lack of moral judgment, I find it to be offensive," Boot said.
"This is why nobody takes you seriously," Carlson said. "I'm actually arguing principles," Carlson insisted.
"Tucker, I did not attack your character," Boot replied.
"Max, I gave you chance and you did not turn in a professional, in any sense, impressive performance. Thanks for joining us anyway," Carlson finished.