Fox News Blasts NSA For 'Unmasking' Tucker Carlson: 'Entirely Unacceptable'

Fox News has said it is "entirely unacceptable" that on-air personality Tucker Carlson was unmasked by intelligence officials following a report that also said he was not a target for surveillance.

The National Security Agency's (NSA) review of the matter showed that Carlson's communications were not targeted, according to a report from The Record, a cybersecurity news publication.

Carlson had previously claimed that the NSA was spying on him and trying to get his popular prime time show taken off the air. The agency denied this was the case in a rare public statement on June 29.

Citing sources speaking on condition of anonymity, The Record reported on Friday that Carlson's communications were also not intercepted by "incidental collection."

This is when the government obtains emails or phone calls of U.S. citizens who have been in contact with a foreign target of surveillance.

However, Carlson's name was mentioned in communications between third parties that were reviewed by the NSA and his name was subsequently "unmasked."

When U.S. intelligence agencies collect data and then share it with others in the government, the names of any private citizens who are not a subject of investigation are redacted for privacy reasons.

"Unmasking" is when those names are revealed at the request of officials with proper security clearance. It is not known whose communications mentioned Carlson.

Fox News strongly criticized the NSA for unmasking Carlson in a statement on Friday.

"For the NSA to unmask Tucker Carlson or any journalist attempting to secure a newsworthy interview is entirely unacceptable and raises serious questions about their activities as well as their original denial, which was wildly misleading," the network said.

The NSA now admits that it "unmasked" Tucker's identity after an intelligence intercept. Plus: the tyrants at Facebook confirm that they have been censoring this show.

— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) July 24, 2021

That statement was also read on Fox News on Friday by Mark Steyn, who was guest-hosting Carlson's show. A video of Steyn's comments was then shared by Carlson's Twitter account.

When reached for comment by Newsweek on Saturday, Fox News pointed to the statement the network had issued to The Record, while the NSA offered no comment.

Carlson had been examining the possibility of an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly before he accused the NSA of spying on him. According to an Axios report on July 7, he had communicated with U.S.-based Russian intermediaries about the matter and became aware that this outreach was known to U.S. government officials.

The NSA denied Carlson's allegations in a statement late last month.

"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 and take his program off the air," the statement said.

"NSA has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States. With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a U.S. citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting," the NSA said.

Update 7/24/21 10.10 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include responses from Fox News and the NSA.

Tucker Carlson Speaks in Washington, D.C.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson discusses 'Populism and the Right' during the National Review Institute's Ideas Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. Carlson's name was mentioned in third party communications reviewed by the NSA. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images