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Fallout from Tucker Carlson exposé reveals how very afraid MAGA is of the truth
Did Carlson really want the world to know that a gay man, Justin Wells, "runs all of Tucker Carlson's shows," as Donald Trump Jr. put it?
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The lengthy reported piece I wrote on Tuesday exposing the truth that was there in plain sight — that an out gay man, Justin Wells, is overseeing the vast Tucker Carlson hate platform on Fox News as Vice President of all Carlson products — triggered the right-wing extremists, who went into overdrive on Twitter, sending their nasty bigots and vile spammers to troll me relentlessly.
Some may see that alone as a measure of great success. But for me, more interesting was that they had no rational, legitimate response in trying to debunk or counter the article. And that is because everything in it is true, and yet they are simply angry that the truth came out.
So, we had odious dissembler Richard Grenell, for example, Donald Trump’s gay far-right ambassador to Germany for a spell — and briefly, Trump’s completely unqualified Acting Director of National Intelligence — claiming in a tweet that “Signorile clearly made up these anonymous quotes” (and adding in a bizarre take that it was “typical” of me because I supposedly believe “all gay people want open borders.”)
Later, he claimed in another tweet that I “got caught” making up sources and for that reason was “blocking people” and had “locked down” my account. (I was blocking trolls spouting slurs, and briefly locked my account to stop the onslaught of hate, which is quite effective). Justin Wells himself then retweeted that tweet of Grenell’s (and other tweets from his defenders.)
This was so hilariously bad, showing they’ve got nothing. First off, not only were my sources numerous — and beyond what I quoted — but since the story published many more people are now talking, confirming more and adding more.
Second, what is Grenell actually saying in trying to claim that I made up sources? That Wells is not gay? That is not in dispute, and the people I quoted weren’t the primary source to show that Wells is an out gay man. It’s the marriage and property data — showing he’d been married for almost 10 years and owns properties with his husband, with whom he lives — that did that.
The people I quoted, all without their names because they are former Fox employees who signed non-disclosure agreements or work for other news organization (or both), fell into three categories: 1) people who described how powerful Wells is at Fox; 2) people who knew him in the past and were baffled, as they didn’t see him as a conservative and; 3) one person who wasn’t surprised, because he’d known Wells a long time and said Wells definitely shared Carlson’s broader right-wing views.
So, if the sources are made up, and what they’re saying is thus not true, are Grenell and company — including Wells, having retweeted Grenell — claiming Wells is not powerful? Not someone who baffled some people who knew him in years past? And not someone who indeed shares Carlson’s views?
It’s nonsensical. And thus exceedingly weak. By the way, I can’t imagine Wells doesn’t have an idea who at least some of the sources are, and knows that they are not made up. This is all an attempt to distract, because, as I said, they’ve got nothing.
Then there was Donald Trump Jr., who, as I noted on Twitter, is someone they drag in when they’re freaking out and very desperate.
My first reaction was: Thank you Donald Trump Jr. for sharing the article widely. (Obviously he doesn’t know what the function is to screenshot something rather than share a piece, but none of us has ever accused Junior of being smart.)
And really, what a shocker: I’ve made a career out of criticizing people with whom I disagree politically, particularly those who are working for right-wing extremists who are peddling hate against LGBTQ people, including myself?
Stop the presses!
I wonder if Carlson was actually happy with Junior blaring to the world that a “gay man runs all of Tucker Carlson’s shows.” Sort of sounds like Tucker isn’t running his own shows — and that some gay guy is — because, well, that’s what Junior said.
Grenell, Don Jr., and the rest may of course have other agendas. They may be brown-nosing Wells and Carlson, waiting for that next invitation to the show.
And also, everyone in Trumpworld, and certainly Jr. and Grenell, is trying to distract attention from Donald Trump having met with white supremacist Holocaust-denier Nick Fuentes and anti-Semite Kanye West for dinner last week.
Wells’ retweeting of their and others’ tweets defending him seemed really pathetic. He had a chance to respond when I wrote him before I published the piece. But he chose to hand it off to a PR person, who just took Wells off the email, and then didn’t send me a statement, as I’d asked.
So Wells proved himself not only to be a coward, but as unable to address the basic gist of the story, because none of the story is untrue. He and likely Carlson just didn’t want the world to know that a powerful gay man at Fox is aiding in crafting and disseminating Carlson’s message of hate and helping to broadcast it widely.
With the Department of Homeland Security issuing a warning yesterday of domestic terror threats to LGBTQ, Jewish and migrant communities, Wells, as the gay men behind Carlson, is partly responsible for furthering the kind of hate that not only has led to violence but has inspired threats of more violence.
Wells is a man who benefited from the work of activists who fought hard for his rights — including the right to marry — and now is harming that very community. When Wells married almost 10 years ago, the Defense of Marriage Act had just been overturned by the Supreme Court (with none of the Fox-supporting right-wing justices in the majority, except for swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, who no longer is on the court), and some, but certainly not most, states had marriage equality.
Overturning DOMA gave couples in those states the federal benefits of marriage, which includes Social Security survivorship benefits and inheritance without massive taxation by the IRS, but also tangible benefits in the present for many couples at the time. Those in relationships in which one of the partners was not a U.S. citizen, for example, could rest assured that their partner wasn’t deported and could gain residency and eventually citizenship.
Wells benefited from all of this, and then with the Obergefell decision in 2015, which made marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states, benefited even more. All the while, Fox News pundits and the entire Fox machine adamantly opposed same-sex marriage, actively fought it, brutally demonizing activists and all LGBTQ people, claiming gay couples would threaten the institution of marriage. And Wells had no problem being part of that during that time and then going further, working for Carlson beginning in 2016 and now helping him to pummel the community with more hate.
Wells also helped elect a president, Trump, who would strip LGBTQ rights in his administration — arguably the most anti-LGBTQ president in history, with a devastating record — and who created a Supreme Court radical right-wing majority that now threatens to overturn marriage equality.
That is such an acute fear, with Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade , that the Senate felt compelled to pass the Respect for Marriage Act this week, which wiped DOMA off the books, and will protect the federal benefits of many marriages — like Justin Wells’ marriage, should Obergefell be overturned.
Democrats got 12 Republicans to support it. But let’s be clear: If Tucker Carlson had his way and Republicans had control of Congress, the Respect for Marriage Act wouldn’t even have come up for a vote. Does anyone seriously think Mitch McConell -- who was not among the 12 in the GOP who voted for it — would bring it to a vote?
And if not for Trump, whom Wells and Carlson helped to elect, the threat from the Supreme Court, and the need for the Respect for Marriage Act, wouldn’t be facing us.
So let’s keep all of that in perspective as we move forward, and as more develops in this and other stories.
We’ll continue to fight for Wells’ rights — and all of our rights — but we’ll also continue to expose how Wells promulgates the hate putting us all in danger.