Tucker Carlson, who is scrounging for attention in an increasingly fractured and competitive right-wing media ecosystem while seeking funders for his new media venture, revived a convicted con man’s ridiculous allegation that he had crack-fueled gay sex with a young Barack Obama in a podcast interview published Wednesday. Carlson also revealed that he plans to interview the man for his show on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
“In 2008, it became really clear that Barack Obama had been having sex with men and smoking crack,” Carlson told host Adam Carolla. He cited the story of Larry Sinclair, who alleged during the 2008 presidential campaign that he “personally engaged in sexual activity and personally used illegal drugs in November 1999” with Obama in the back of Sinclair’s limousine and at a Chicago hotel. (Sinclair further alleged that Obama had been having a gay affair with the choir director at his church, who was subsequently murdered “to keep the media from believing the claims” Sinclair made.)
“A guy came forward, Larry Sinclair, and said, I'll sign an affidavit. And he did. I'll take a lie detector. And he did. ‘I smoked crack with Barack Obama and had sex with him,’” Carlson explained.
Carlson said Sinclair’s claims were “obviously true” but “nobody reported it … because the Obama campaign said anyone who reports on this gets no access to the Obama campaign.”
Sinclair’s story did receive little attention at the time from credible news outlets, even as it was widely covered on WorldNetDaily, a conspiracy theory website famous for promoting the lies that Obama was not born in the United States and is a Muslim. But while Carlson portrays this as a conspiracy in which journalists passed on Sinclair’s story to preserve access to the Obama campaign, Ben Smith noted in a 2008 article on the saga for Politico that the “story has generally been ignored by the mainstream media, because he’s been unable to substantiate his allegations.”
Carlson said he found Sinclair’s story compelling because he passed a lie detector test and signed an affidavit. But as Smith and even WorldNetDaily reported, Sinclair actually failed his polygraph (he later alleged Obama adviser David Axelrod had paid $750,000 to rig the polygraph). As Smith pointed out, Sinclair also claimed to be “terminally ill” in another affidavit he signed in 2004 (he is apparently still alive nearly 20 years later).
Asked by Carolla if he actually believed Sinclair’s story, Carlson replied, “That definitely happened. Oh, for sure. I mean, I've talked to Larry Sinclair about it and — oh, definitely it happened.” He went on to say that “40 years ago,” Sinclair had been “in and out of prison,” so “he’s got a criminal record by definition” and a “record of deception.”
“But this story, if you listen to it in detail, is clearly true,” he said, adding, “I'm going to do an interview with him and you can hear it.”
In fact, while Carlson suggested Sinclair’s criminal record occurred decades before his claims about Obama, Smith reported that “public records and court filings reveal that he has a 27-year criminal record, with a specialty in crimes involving deceit,” including “forgery charges in two states, one of which drew Sinclair a 16-year jail sentence.” At the time Sinclair made his allegations, there was “an outstanding warrant for Sinclair’s arrest for forging an acquaintance’s signature and stealing her tax refunds” in 2001, and he had been “arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in South Carolina” the previous year.
The former Fox host has been living his best life since the right-wing network dropped him from his prime-time post in April — moderating a GOP presidential forum, hobnobbing with Eastern European autocrats, and standing up for Vladimir Putin.
He’s also founded a new company that will be “anchored by longer versions of the free videos that Carlson has been posting regularly on Twitter” and is seeking “hundreds of millions of dollars” from right-wing billionaires like Peter Thiel and Rebekah Mercer. Unfortunately for Carlson, he’s just Alex Jones in suit-and-tie without Fox’s support, his viewership has been low, and he’s largely fallen out of the day-to-day conversation.
The Carolla interview provides insight into the niche Carlson’s new company will occupy — his investors will be funding WorldNetDaily 2.0, an outlet that dives deep into the right-wing internet fever swamps and credulously repeats absurdities as unvarnished truth.
Of course, Carlson is a notorious liar exposed by the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit for his willingness to tell his viewers the opposite of what he says privately, so we’ll never know whether he actually believes anything he publishes.