Carlson raged at the California Republican on Tuesday after The New York Times released audio from a Jan. 10, 2021, conference call with GOP leaders.
In the clips, McCarthy is heard disparaging some rank-and-file Republicans, including Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) and Mo Brooks (Ala.), for their dangerous rhetoric surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. He raised concerns that they were inciting violence.
At one point in the call, while reacting to an inflammatory tweet from Rep. Barry Moore (R-Ala.), McCarthy suggested certain lawmakers should be banned from Twitter, as Donald Trump was. The former president was removed from several social media platforms after he used them to push the lie that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him and to incite the insurrection.
“Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?” McCarthy asked.
According to the on-screen graphic on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” that equates to “thought control” and means “GOP leaders are on board with censorship too.”
Quoting McCarthy’s comment about Twitter, Carlson said the House leader wanted to “force disobedient lawmakers off the internet.”
“Those are the tape-recorded words of Congressman Kevin McCarthy, a man who in private, turns out, sounds like an MSNBC contributor,” Carlson said.
“Unless conservatives get their act together right away,” he continued, McCarthy or one of his “highly liberal allies,” like Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican from New York, is “very likely to be speaker of the House in January.”
“That would mean we would have a Republican Congress led by a puppet of the Democratic Party.”
Both those lawmakers are loyal Trump supporters. And though McCarthy initially said Trump bore responsible for the attack on Congress, within a week he had decided Trump did not provoke the attack after all. And despite acknowledging privately that far-right members of his caucus were potentially endangering others with their rhetoric after Jan. 6, in the 16 months since, he has repeatedly downplayed their actions in public.