“Retaliation from red states": Fox News stokes fears of political "violence" over Trump indictment

"I hope you're ready for whatever's next," one pundit said. "If that's what they want, let's get to it"

Published March 31, 2023 12:14PM (EDT)

Tucker Carlson (Jason Koerner/Getty Images)
Tucker Carlson (Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson had a meltdown on his show Thursday night after news broke that a Manhattan grand jury indicted former President Donald Trump in a hush-money case, calling it a targeted "political purge" against Republicans. 

"The rule of law appears to be suspended tonight, not just for Trump but for anyone who would consider voting for him," Carlson said on his show. "This is what it seems to be. It is a political purge." 

"It almost feels they're pushing the population to react," he said, referring to Democrats. "'We think they're demoralized and passive, let's see if they really are.' At what point do we conclude they're doing this in order to produce a reaction?"

While Carlson implied that there might be "retaliation from red states," his guests were much more straightforward in their warnings of political violence.

Comedian Adam Carolla asserted that "people are going to go out and protest. Somebody is going to do something stupid and then they're going to fire up the DOJ, just like January 6th." 

Carlson then claimed that Republican voters were being "pushed into a corner." Carolla responded: "I feel like it's to get them to react so that the government can now swoop in."

Sports columnist Jason Whitlock then accused Democrats of "agitating for unrest" and cautioned that he is "ready for whatever's next."

Whitlock's rhetoric closely resembled the former president's calls to action from his supporters after the 2020 election. "I hope every other man out there watching this show, I hope you're ready for whatever's next," Whitlock told Carlson. "If that's what they want, let's get to it."

He continued his rant by claiming that "there is a godless element in this country that does not care about fairness." 

"They don't care about the will of the people. They care about power and control. As you have spelled out this week, they think they're God," Whitlock claimed, referencing Carlson's earlier attacks on transgender individuals. 

Radio host Glenn Beck echoed Whitlock's inflammatory remarks.

"They wanted violence from the right from the beginning," Beck told Carlson, arguing that Democrats were purposely trying to provoke Republicans by indicting Trump. "They can't wait [for] it. They need it. They want you to strike out. Why? Because then they can close the cage."

Beck also predicted that the country would be "at war" by 2025.

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Carlson went on to claim that Trump's indictment was a bigger stain on American democracy than the Jan. 6 insurrection by the former president's supporters. 

"If you believe in our system and you want it to continue, you have to raise your hand and say stop, because this is too great an assault on our system, much greater than anything we saw on January 6th, that's for certain," Carlson said.

Carlson faced widespread criticism earlier this month after he framed the attack on the capitol as "mostly peaceful chaos." 

"This is transparently political, it's meant to take him out of the presidential race," Carlson said on Thursday after Trump's indictment. "That's not allowed."

By Samaa Khullar

Samaa Khullar is a former news fellow at Salon with a background in Middle Eastern history and politics. She is a graduate of New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism institute and is pursuing investigative reporting.

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Aggregate Donald Trump Fox News Politics Tucker Carlson