Max Keiser, a Bitcoin proselytizer who has worked for Russian and Iranian state media outlets, recently appeared on an episode of Tucker Carlson Today to praise El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s failing experiment with making Bitcoin his country’s national currency. The longform interview show is a subscribers-only program on Fox Nation, the network’s streaming service that is heavily dominated by Carlson.
Keiser is a longtime proponent of Bitcoin, including promoting it on his show on Russian state-sponsored network RT. Keiser pushed Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to promote Bitcoin and his analysis of cryptocurrency has been cited by hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the December 1 interview with Carlson, Keiser bragged that he has advised Bukele on cryptocurrency policy.
Carlson has a long history of praising authoritarian rulers, and Bukele is no exception. The Fox News host praised the Salvadoran president in an interview in June 2021 specifically for his use of police repression in the name of targeting gangs.
In the Tucker Carlson Today segment, Keiser referred to El Salvador as a “beacon” of “hope” and “the shining city on the hill.” He claimed that the country was going to issue a round of “volcano bonds,” a dubious Bitcoin-backed bond that the country has promised to offer to the public for a year but so far has failed to do so.
Keiser continued to heap praise on Bukele’s repressive police policies as Carlson nodded along in agreement.
“You have human rights organizations saying, W these criminals, these MS-13 guys, they’re not getting due process,’’’ Keiser said. “Well, the fact is that the human rights of 7 million Salvadorans I think come first.”
Keiser then said El Salvador was suffering from “an infestation of crime” that requires a “special police force” with “special rights” to dismantle the gangs. Keiser related the situation to the U.S. federal government tackling organized crime in the 1930s.
“President Bukele is Elliot Ness,” he said.
In fact, Bukele’s policies have been a disaster. They’ve ushered in a new era of repression in El Salvador and fostered an environment where journalists and dissidents are targeted for harassment and persecution.
Tying the county’s financial sovereignty to Bitcoin has been equally catastrophic. The “volcano bonds” that Keiser praised haven’t yet been issued, even as the country’s significant foreign debt obligations come due. As of November 10, Bitcoin’s price had plummeted, causing the country to lose 60% of its national holdings’ value. Depending on which financial outlet you turn to, the policy is either “not paying off” or “failing miserably.”
None of that matters on Tucker Carlson Today. What’s important is that a right-wing, authoritarian leader was getting bad headlines, and Carlson rode to the rescue.