Hannity, Carlson and Trump: The American Right’s Battle Over Iraq and Iran

After the killing of Iranian Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani this month, a battle erupted on Fox News and in the halls of Congress between the hawks and doves on the American right. While President Donald Trump regularly boasts of a 95 percent approval rating in the GOP – a disputed stat he never cites a source for – his most recent moves in the Middle East have divided the party and further illustrated what pundits have long argued: The Republican Party isn’t what it used to be, especially when it comes to national security.

The GOP divide is on stark display on Fox News, where top-rated host Sean Hannity and “Fox & Friends” co-host Pete Hegseth have pushed for even greater military action, while host Tucker Carlson and Fox News contributor Geraldo Rivera are strong voices against intervention.

Hegseth even argued on the air that Trump should “rewrite the rules of war” and make good on his promise to bomb Iranian cultural sites, while Hannity suggested bombing Iranian oil refineries to cause “major poverty for the people of Iran.”

The split on the network got so heated that Hannity appeared to cancel Rivera’s appearance on his show after Rivera tweeted that he would try to talk Trump down from any further escalation – via Hannity’s show, of which Trump is an avid viewer.

Fox News features prominently in Trump’s foreign policy calculus, as Carlson was a key voice against bombing Iran last June after the Iranians shot down a U.S. drone. And Trump regularly parrots talking points from “Fox & Friends” on Twitter and in official remarks.

Carlson, a former MSNBC host who has become an ideological voice of the Trump movement, riffed on Trump’s rhetoric that U.S. intelligence agencies shouldn’t be trusted and that “endless wars” and Middle Eastern adventurism should be avoided at all costs.

“It’s hard to remember now, but as recently as last week, most people didn’t consider Iran an imminent threat,” Carlson said in an opening monologue on his show. “Iranian saboteurs were not committing acts of terror in our cities. Oh, but our leaders tell us they were about to any second and that’s why we struck first.