The National Security Agency denied Tuesday that it is spying on a Fox News Channel host in an effort to cancel his show.
Tucker Carlson had charged Monday that the NSA is “monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.”
“Untrue,” the agency said in a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday evening.
“This allegation is untrue. Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air,” the agency said in a statement posted at 8 p.m., as Mr. Carlson went on the air Tuesday night.
However, Mr. Carlson was able to respond to the NSA’s comments on the air and called them “an infuriating dishonest formal statement.”
He called it “a entire paragraph of lies written purely for the benefit of the intel community’s lackeys at CNN and MSNBC.”
Mr. Carlson repeated his earlier claims and noted that the lawyerly wording of the statement doesn’t actually deny anything substantive.
“The NSA has read my private emails without my permission, period. That’s what we said. Today’s statement from the NSA does not deny that,” he said.
Suspicion of U.S. intelligence agencies among conservatives has skyrocketed since they were used under the Obama administration to spy upon Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, often using authority to spy on foreigners to catch Americans with whom they were speaking or corresponding. This would let political officials “unmask” the Americans involved.
The NSA statement Tuesday, which did not allow anyone to reply to it, said the agency “has a foreign intelligence mission” and “may not target a US citizen” except under court orders or in an emergency.