Media

Fox News: 'Entirely unacceptable' for 'NSA to unmask Tucker Carlson'

Fox News on Friday responded to a news report saying that the National Security Agency (NSA) had uncovered host Tucker Carlson's name in third-party communications through "unmasking," calling the reported move "entirely unacceptable." 

The NSA had completed a review of Carlson's accusations that the agency had spied on him in an effort to take him off the air and found no evidence to support this claim, cybersecurity news outlet The Record reported Friday, citing two people familiar with the matter.

The NSA had previously denied Carlson's claim, and the review also reportedly found that the television personality's communications were not intercepted through "incidental collection," in which the government may obtain communications from a U.S. citizen who is in talks with a foreign actor under surveillance. 

Carlson earlier this month claimed that he had been attempting to schedule an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin before he publicly made his accusation against the NSA. 

However, the people who spoke to The Record on the condition of anonymity said that Carlson was mentioned in communications between third parties and was eventually revealed through "unmasking," or when government officials request the name of American citizens to be revealed in order to help understand specific documents. 

Fox responded to the report in a statement that was shared with The Record and later read on-air by conservative author Mark Steyn, who filled in as the host of "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on Friday. 

"For the NSA to unmask Tucker Carlson or any journalist attempting to secure a newsworthy interview is entirely unacceptable and raises serious questions about their activities as well as their original denial, which was wildly misleading," the network said. 

Carlson did not appear live on Friday's show to directly comment on the matter. 

The NSA declined to comment when contacted by The Hill. 

The day after Carlson initially levied the claim against the NSA late last month, the agency released a statement reading, "Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air." 

"NSA has a foreign intelligence mission," the statement continued. "We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States."

"With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting," it added. 

Despite this denial, Carlson has continued to stand by his claims, later alleging that the NSA had leaked his private emails to journalists "in an effort to discredit him," a claim on which the NSA previously declined to comment. 

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