Did Matt Gaetz Try Taking Down Tucker Carlson?

Matt Gaetz is in a bit of hot water. In case you haven’t been following the news over the past 48 hours, the Florida congressman is currently under FBI investigation for potential sex trafficking. Gaetz not only revealed the investigation on Twitter this past Tuesday, but also bizarrely explained it on Tucker Carlson’s show that night. The results were predictably horrible, and have only gotten worse with time.

More information about Gaetz has come to light in the days since. Apparently he “bragged about his sexual escapades to colleagues,” showing fellow lawmakers nude photos of the women he’d slept with. The FBI investigation was reportedly focused on whether Gaetz had used federal campaign money to pay for sex with young women, according to The New York Times. The reporters even produced Gaetz’s payment receipts from CashApp and Apple Pay.

Gaetz got his start in politics by using his father’s money to gain political clout and has skated on privilege since he was a teenager. (This thread by Mother Jones, including the full profile at the end, is an astonishing read.) His flirtation with Newsmax came as no surprise, since it would allow him to continue his performative antics and presumably build up his political profile. But it’s clear now that news was covering up something far more sinister. Still, as more information about Gaetz comes about, there’s something that doesn’t add up.

Why did he go on Tucker Carlson’s show?

The appearance makes sense at first glance. Gaetz likely figured Carlson would provide a sympathetic enough platform that he could explain himself, however erratically, and start to control the narrative. Unfortunately for Gaetz, there was a lot more to explain than he let on. He was clearly unprepared for the interview and went on several different tangents that seemed completely unrelated to the information that was available at the time. But one thing about Gaetz’s appearance truly stood out, even among the nonsensical rambling.

Gaetz’s implication is obvious, and apparently Carlson noticed. The Fox News host later said the interview was one of the weirdest he’d ever done and basically didn’t explain anything (which is true). But did Gaetz appear on the show specifically to bring Tucker down with him?

The answer to that question is a little less obvious. Gaetz and Carlson are (or were) friends by all accounts. Still, backstabbing among politicians and media, especially Fox News, isn’t exactly uncommon. It’s also possible Gaetz is simply dumb enough to believe a quick cable news hit would fix everything. He’s no stranger to making himself look like an idiot, after all. Any normal person would realize that doing live television to cover for yourself and tweeting about your dad wearing a wire probably isn’t a good idea. But Gaetz isn’t a normal person or politician. And for someone who constantly tries manufacturing political capital through boneheaded antics, he’s not exactly media savvy, either

Regardless, there’s a chance, however small, that Gaetz saw all this coming and figured he’d throw one last distracting punch. Maybe Carlson knew about what Gaetz was up to behind the scenes or even endorsed it, which made him guilty in Gaetz’s mind. Or maybe Carlson was just the easiest, most obvious target. Not everybody has a primetime cable news slot you can hop onto while shit is hitting the fan. These theories are mostly useless, since the man at the center of them is a total dullard. But he’s also a vindictive, petty political climber who would absolutely do something like this if he thought even for a moment it might cover his ass. Never attribute anything to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity—unless that stupidity is coming from Matt Gaetz.

recommendations