A former aide to senator Ted Cruz said the worst part of his widely criticised appearance on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show was not his “abject humiliation” but his clear radicalisation.
Amanda Carpenter, who formerly served as Mr Cruz’s communications director, penned an op-ed published on Monday in The Bulwark, a conservative website, arguing that her former employer had been radicalised and that this became apparent when he apologised to Mr Carlson for calling the Capitol riot a “violent terrorist attack.”
She wrote that while she understood “the urge to dunk on Cruz,” that “what happened on Carlson’s show is more than just an example of Cruz’s weaselly pleading being worthy of a laugh. It’s ultimately not funny at all.”
Ms Carpenter went on to claim that Mr Cruz at one time “cared about justice and truth,” and that he formerly believed that “violence was violence and that the rule of law (and the rules of language) should be equally applied.”
She claimed this was “no longer the case” for Mr Cruz, calling his participation in rallies preceding the Capitol riot and his mea culpa on Mr Carlson’s show “far beyond pandering.”
“Cruz’s humiliation is hardly the point. His radicalisation is far more frightening,” she wrote.
During Mr Cruz’s appearance on Mr Carlson’s show on 6 January, he apologised to the Fox News host for his comments condemning the Capitol riot attacks.
“You called this a terror attack when by no definition was it a terror attack,” Mr Carlson said during the show. “That’s a lie. You told that lie on purpose and I’m wondering why you did.”
Mr Cruz, rather than defending himself, buckled to the pundit.
“The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb,” Mr Cruz said.
He claimed that he had misspoken, though he has in the past also condemned the attacks. In December, Mr Cruz had told the Associated Press that “we saw a terrorist attack on the Capitol” on 6 January 2021.
Mr Cruz has been accused of flip-flopping on his stance on the Capitol riot.
Beyond his mea culpa on Mr Carlson’s show, Mr Cruz was also an early adopter of 2020 election fraud conspiracy theories and led the Senate Republican’s attempts to block the electoral college votes on 6 January.
“It is your self serving attempt at sedition that has helped to inspire these terrorists and their attempted coup,” Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who ran against Mr Cruz for his Senate seat, said shortly after the Texas Republican condemned the violence.
The exchange on Mr Carlson’s show was another example of how Fox News personalities have a significant influence over Republican lawmakers.
The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot examined numerous text exchanges between Fox News hosts including Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham texting White House chief of staff Mark Meadows demanding him to talk to then-president Donald Trump on the day of the riot.
“Can he make a statement?… Ask people to leave the Capitol?” Mr Hannity asked in a text.
Ms Ingraham sent a text to Mr Meadows telling him “the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home… He is destroying his legacy.”
Further, House revelations found that Mr Trump’s former White House chief of staff John Kelly told staffers to watch Fox News so they could better anticipate what the president would do.