Last week, Tucker Carson of Fox News caused a stir by accusing the National Security Agency of spying on him and trying to get his show off the air, allegations the NSA denied. Now, a report from Jonathan Swan at Axios appears to shed light on the controversy. It seems Carlson had been trying to arrange an interview with Vladimir Putin and reached out to Kremlin intermediaries in the US. As Swan notes, that in itself is not unusual. So how did we get from there to Carlson's allegations of spying? Swan writes that it's unlikely the NSA had made the Fox News host a target. "A more plausible scenario is that one of the people Carlson was talking to as an intermediary to help him get the Putin interview was under surveillance as a foreign agent." If that were the case, Carlson's texts or emails to the intermediary might have been "incidentally collected."
Swan has reached out to the NSA for an explicit denial that this is what happened, but the agency is so far sticking with what Swan describes as its "carefully worded" initial statement. If Carlson's messages were incidentally collected, his identity would still have been masked, and it could have been unmasked only at the request of a US government official. Carlson, meanwhile, is continuing to make his case that some in the agency are out to get him. "Yesterday, I learned that ... the NSA leaked the contents of my emails to journalists in an effort to discredit me," he told Fox's Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday, per the Hill. "I know because I got a call from one of them saying, 'Oh, this is what your email was about.'" That in itself seems like a "significant leak," writes David Harsanyi at the National Review, who wonders if journalists from non-Fox outlets get similar treatment. (More Tucker Carlson stories.)