Power & Market

Tucker Carlson’s Guests Keep Bringing up the Mises Institute

The Tucker Carlson Show

Tucker Carlson is apparently warming up to Austrian economics and the work of the Mises Institute. In 2019, when he was still on Fox News, he made a quick dig at Austrian economics, and he was critical of “libertarian economics” as recently as December of last year.

But Austrian economics and the Mises Institute have come up in his interviews with three different guests over the past few months, and instead of being critical or dismissive, Carlson was open to the ideas.

He posts some of his interviews on Twitter, where the view counts are in the millions. Austrian economics came up in these episodes:

  • March 19 – Ron Paul – 3.9 million views (15-minute clip – full interview behind paywall)
  • May 16 – Dave Smith – 4.8 million views
  • May 21 – Erik Prince – 4.2 million views

(For comparison, as of April 2024, CNN had 624,000 primetime viewers.)

In his interview with Ron Paul, Carlson said that he was amazed at an audience’s reaction to Paul’s criticism of the Fed.

I’d never seen you speak before and you went off about the Federal Reserve and I remember thinking “what a weird, what an esoteric subject!” I knew nothing about it. I thought only crazy people cared but again I was completely ignorant about monetary policy at the time and I was shocked by how much the crowd loved it.

Carlson asked him how people learned about the failures of central banking even though establishment media never covered it. Paul brought up the work of Leonard Read at the Foundation for Economic Education and the Mises Institute.

Dave Smith, comedian and host of Part of the Problem, brought up the Mises Institute less than a minute into his interview with Tucker Carlson. Carlson asked Smith about his views on what was causing the leftward drift of many conservative media outlets, and Smith responded:

It’s kind of the same thing that happened to Libertarians. I think they’re in Washington D.C. and that’s not where you’re supposed to be. The best libertarian organization in the world is the Mises Institute and it’s based in Auburn. They specifically put it there because they want no part of Washington D.C. And then you see the Cato [Institute] and guys like that who are based out of D.C. They get very corrupted. […] They’re having cocktail parties with the Fed Chairman.

Carlson responded incredulously. Perhaps he is becoming more aware of the fact that the broad Austrian economics and libertarian orbit has its own tribes, just like every other movement. This becomes especially apparent in the rest of the episode. For example, Smith highlighted the consistency of the Mises Institute throughout the covid chaos: “Just like conservatives, there are different camps within libertarians. […] If you go listen to what Ron Paul was saying throughout the entire covid regime, he was perfect. Tom Woods, Lew Rockwell, Jeff Deist – there’s this group of libertarians who were great the entire time.”

Carlson responded, “Well, I totally agree. I’ve never stopped loving Ron Paul.”

Dave Smith got Tucker Carlson to nod along with quick descriptions of the profit and loss system, Cantillon effects, Austrian business cycle theory, and how money printing enables endless war. At one point Carlson remarked, “Maybe I am a libertarian.”

In his next interview with Erik Prince, posted just five days later, Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute came up again. Prince, a former Navy SEAL and defense contractor with a degree in economics from Hillsdale College, also outlined the Austrian critique of socialism:

When you look at history, the lie of socialism, communism, it’s easy for elitists to love that paradigm. Because the right-wing, Austrian school economics approach is massive decentralization, decision-making at the micro-level. A farmer knows what prices are, has a good idea what demand is going to be, decides whether he is going to plant more acres that year or not, and takes that risk himself. The Soviet planner says, “I need everyone to plant this many acres, and we’re going to do it at this price.” It’s the lie of individual incentive versus massive central planning to the betterment of elite thinking, with the grift that goes with it. And that’s just a mind-worm disease that so many people generation after generation continue to fall for.

I hope to see more of this on Tucker Carlson’s tremendously popular show. It seems to me that his prior criticism of Austrian economics and libertarianism was based on a small view of a broader movement. Carlson, who was a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute from 2009 to 2015, was primarily acquainted with “Regime Libertarians” (coined by Lew Rockwell). Regime Libertarians are guided by “the belief that our attention should be directed toward converting the powerful to our views, seeking to become powerful ourselves, or otherwise maneuvering in a way that will appeal to the powerful.” The Regime Libertarians’ track record on war, the covid regime, and the Fed indicates that their strategy backfired. Instead of converting the powerful, the powerful converted (and corrupted) them.

It’s no surprise Carlson developed a distaste for this brand.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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