Even Tucker Carlson has trouble defending Trump's "perfect English" praise for ICE agent

The Fox News host became enraged when a former Hillary Clinton adviser called out Trump's most recent racist remark

By Matthew Rozsa
Published August 21, 2018 9:19AM (EDT)
"Tucker Carlson Tonight" (FOX)
"Tucker Carlson Tonight" (FOX)

Before Tucker Carlson could interview Richard Goodstein, a former Hillary Clinton adviser, over a controversial tweet recently posted by Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., the two got into a heated war of words over a racist comment made by President Donald Trump on Monday.

"Tucker I hope we can agree, before I answer that question — because we're talking about ICE — that in deference to our president, we could use 'perfect English' tonight," Goodstein quipped with a smile as soon as he was introduced by Carlson.

"I think Americans should use perfect English! Is that racist now?" Carlson quickly shot back in anger. "To say you should speak English? The English language is not a race, it's what holds our country together! It's okay . . ."

Goodstein interjected, "It was wildly, wildly racist for the president introducing someone who is Hispanic . . ."

"This is so stupid! Language is not a race!" Carlson replied. "When our ancestors came to this country, they were taught in public schools to speak English because it binds the country together. A country that has no common race or religion. Language holds us together. There's nothing wrong with that. And the left, which seeks to divide us for political gain, pretends it's racist to say you should speak English. It's not!"

But Goodstein pointed out that Carlson was mischaracterizing his argument.

"So the intimation is when you introduce someone who is Hispanic, that he can't speak perfect English, which is why the president went out of his way . . ." Goodstein began to ask.

Carlson cut him off with a scoff.

"Okay. Trump is bad! Okay. Fine," Carlson replied.

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The pre-interview fireworks were set off after Goodstein referred to an incident on Monday in which Trump publicly congratulated Adrian Anzaldua, a Border Patrol agent credited with saving 78 lives with the arrest of a single human smuggler earlier this month.

"The border patrol agent who caught the accused and likely really saved many lives, he's here with us. And Adrian, where is Adrian? Adrian is here with us," Trump told reporters as he thanked Anzaldua. "Thank you, Adrian. Great job. Thank you. It's a lot of lives."

After inviting Anzaldua to the podium to discuss his experiences and noticing what he interpreted as hesitation, Trump attempted to joke in order to ease Anzaldua to the stage.

"Come here, you're not nervous, right? Speaks perfect English," Trump bantered.

Trump continued by encouraging Anzaldua to appear on the stage. "Come here, I want to ask you about that, 78 lives. You saved 78 people. So how did you feel that there were people in that trailer? There's a lot of trailers around. Please."

Anzaldua told the story of how he caught the alleged human smuggler after the smuggler's vehicle avoided a checkpoint in Texas.

"I opened the little latch of the back of the tractor trailer and revealed a lot of subjects. I quickly asked for backup, and backup got there, and the subjects were transported back to . . . the checkpoint, and all of them were in good health," Anzaldua told Trump.

"What a good job he did. What a good job. Tomorrow he will be announcing that he's running for office," Trump gushed.

This was not the incident that Carlson wanted to discuss with Goodstein on Monday. Instead, he wanted to discuss a tweet by Kennedy about an alleged murdered in Mexico who was arrested by ICE while driving his pregnant wife to the hospital (she later gave birth without him).

"There’s heartless and then there’s whatever the hell this is," Kennedy had tweeted.

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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Adrian Anzaldua Donald Trump Racism Tucker Carlson