Read in Catalan

For the eleventh consecutive night, right-wing Spanish nationalism mobilized on Monday night outside the Socialist (PSOE) headquarters, to protest the proposed law granting an amnesty for Catalan independence process prosecutions. But the latest protest was limp, one of the weakest in recent days: only about 1,200 people demonstrated in Calle Ferraz. The most notable aspect of the night was the presence of the guru of the US far-right media, Tucker Carlson, who came to Madrid, accompanied by members of Spain's own extreme right party, Vox, to attend the demonstrations against Pedro Sánchez's pacts with the Catalan pro-independence parties. But who is Tucker Carlson and what might his hook-up with Vox mean?

Carlson was Fox News' star anchor until April, when he was fired for lying. In fact, the conservative television network, a ratings leader in the US, was forced to pay a settlement of more than 700 million dollars for the false information spread by the supposed journalist, alleging that Donald Trump had suffered electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election. It was an out-of-court deal in a lawsuit that the network seemed set to lose. To add insult to injury, the company then took a hit on the stock market of more than 600 million dollars due to the departure of the presenter. That is how Carlson earned the title of the most expensive liar of the century, having cost Rupert Murdoch an estimated $1.36 billion.

Carlson, Trump and the Far Right

With Carlson's lies about US electoral fraud, it can be said that he was one of the instigators of the Trumpist assault on the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 - at least indirectly. But that's not all, as he has often created controversy by promoting far-right conspiracy theories that have projected Trump's image across the country. For example, Carlson spread the theory of the great replacement, the idea of an alleged "white genocide" in South Africa, the thesis that the problems of Americans are the fault of immigrants and the demonization of the antifa (anti-fascist) movement.

So the presenter's promotion of Trump - in particular, in the campaign after losing the elections - cost Fox about 1.36 billion dollars. Once out of the network, Carlson began a Twitter-broadcast interview show, originally called Tucker on Twitter, and later (with Elon Musk's blessing) Tucker on X, which broke records this summer with its interview with the former US president, which was viewed more than 240 million times in 24 hours. It remained the highest figure ever recorded on the social media outlet until Carlson beat his own record by interviewing Argentinian far-right leader, Javier Milei, in a show that reached 300 million views.

Vox: "The world is watching us"

In addition to Trump and Milei, Carlson has interviewed other far-right leaders, such as the president of Hungary, Viktor Orbán; the former president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro; and the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele. Now it is the turn of Vox's Santiago Abascal, who is not leader of the Spanish government, and in fact his party lost about 40% of its seats at the July 23rd election, taking about 12% of the total vote. But it does seem that he will appear in a programme by the former Fox News presenter, since in the images from this Monday's protest stroll, the Vox leader was seen wearing a lapel microphone. Everything suggests that Carlson is in Madrid to make a programme about the Spanish demonstrations against the amnesty and Sánchez's pacts with the Catalan independentists, also tying into the internationalization strategy launched by the far-right Spanish party.

Carlson is a professional agitator and Vox wants to use him to deploy their own fascist version of “the whole world is watching us” line. It is well known that Santiago Abascal has close ties with Steve Bannon, the American who was key in creating Trump and who has driven the far-right wave across the planet. Now, the Spanish ultra party wants to further tighten its links with the United States and use Carlson's voice to spread its message beyond Spain's borders. They haven't got much out of it yet, but it's true that there is currently a surge in social media users who are playing along with Vox's ideology. A good example is that of Visegrád 24, which first went viral thanks to its propaganda against Russia in the Ukraine invasion and which now tweets practically every day against the Spanish government. Abascal's party got its first major boost on social media and now it wants to come back stronger. So, since the far-right is well-known for its propaganda - Tucker Carlson's content is a textbook example - users need to be alert to the fake news and manipulation of what they might see, on any digital platform.