Regular Legal Insurrection readers will recognize the name Kurt Eichenwald. A senior writer at Newsweek [which apparently still exists], Eichenwald is a frequent guest on Joy Reid’s MSNBC show, where he can be counted on to spout virulently anti-Republican/Trump views. We’ve chronicled, as here and here, his predilection to burst into disdainful laughter in the face of conservative interlocutors.

On MSNBC, Eichenwald’s odd nature had been sheltered in a comfortable cocoon. But on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show of Thursday evening, Eichenwald’s deep weirdness was exposed.

The meltdown came when Carlson pressed Eichenwald to answer a simple question: is it true, as Eichenwald had tweeted, that Donald Trump had been confined to a mental institution in 1990? Rather than answer the question, Eichenwald went off on a variety of tangents, including the stunt of hauling out a big binder he had created of Carlson’s supposed “falsehoods.”

Whenever Tucker would try to haul him back, Eichenwald would piteously complain that he was not being permitted to answer the question. Things went from the amusingly odd to the pathetically strange at the end, when Eichenwald claimed that he had received a “message” from “people at the CIA.” He claimed to know and have been in the home of a lot of CIA agents, and that “they are really delivering this to you and to Donald Trump.” When Tucker asked what the secret message was, Eichenwald again rambled on, finally leading Carlson to observe: “I’m starting to have concerns about you, Kurt.”

Carlson peppered the interview with other comments on the oddness of his interlocutor:

  • This is performance art. I’ve never had an interview like this in my life.
  • You may be coming undone, Kurt.
  • You’re filibustering with this weirdness.
  • Kurt, this is a little nutty! I got to be honest!
  • You are humiliating yourself by your unwillingness to answer a simple question.
  • I can’t imagine negotiating something with you. I think I would go crazy.
  • This is performance art! I’ve never had an interview like this in my life!
  • I would have real concerns if I were one of your editors. And I mean that.
  • I’m concerned about your behavior on this show tonight.

Note: Eichenwald went on a tweet storm after the show, which he later deleted. It was captured, however, and can be seen here. Poor guy.

TUCKER CARLSON: I’ve been reading your stuff for 20 years probably. But in the last year I’ve noticed an increasingly, I think it’s fair to say, partisan turn from you. And so I looked up your bio and it describes you as a senior writer at Newsweek which suggests journalism. Do you believe that you’re practicing journalism?

KURT EICHENWALD: [ Laughter ]

. . .

TUCKER: I read your Twitter feed and this is the kind of stuff I’m reading on it. At one point you asked of conservatives why they hate America. You describe Trump as, quote, stupid and lazy. You refer to “dumb-ass Trumpers.” You say this to Kellyanne Fitzpatrick [Conway] “F you.” You say to Trump voters “go F yourself.”

KURT: Hold on, hold on again, Tucker. One of the things I want to make sure of, you have a real habit of taking a lot of things out of context.

. . .

TUCKER: But the next day you say quite ironically, and I’m quoting, I believe Trump was institutionalized in a mental hospital for a nervous breakdown in 1990, which is why he won’t release his medical record.

. . .

TUCKER: [after long Eichenwald ramble not addresseing the question] Was he in a mental hospital or not in 1990, you allege that he was. Was he or wasn’t he? He wasn’t, was he?

KURT: Can I, I mean Tucker, if you don’t want me to answer the question, tell me so and then we can move on.

TUCKER: I’m asking you the question! Was he in a mental hospital in 1908 or not.

KURT: But I would like to answer the question. You have made an accusation. Let me answer.

TUCKER: No. I read your tweet!

KURT: So In 1990, I was told that there was essentially a breakdown. I’m giving reporting process here, okay? Clearly I didn’t print it. I also thought Trump was a private individual and it didn’t matter.

TUCKER: Well, you print it right here. [holds up copy of tweet] . . .
This is a very long story. You said he was in a mental hospital in 1990, was he or wasn’t he?

KURT: Can I finish, Tucker? If you don’t like the answer —

TUCKER: — it’s a really simple question. I’m asking you to finish, sir. Please answer the question.

KURT: If you don’t like the answer, don’t have guests. But I would really like to answer your question.

TUCKER: It’s a simple question: was he in a mental hospital as you claimed, or wasn’t he?

KURT: Tucker, would you like me to answer the question or not? If the answer is no, say so!

TUCKER: Please succinctly answer the question.

KURT: But don’t pretend you want the answer if you won’t let me answer the question.

TUCKER: You’re filibustering with this weirdness.

KURT: We can go back and say oh!, here are Tucker Carlson falsehoods [raises large binder labelled “Tucker Carlson Falsehoods.] Let’s go through them one at a time. I urge you —

TUCKER: Kurt, you said the guy was in a mental hospital.

KURT: Put them on the Fox News website. Do you want me to answer the question or not? Just give me a yes or no.

TUCKER: This is highly tiresome. Yeah. I want you to answer this question. Was he in a mental hospital in 1990 as you allege or was he not?

KURT: Let me answer the question.

TUCKER: Go ahead.

KURT: Look, you’re not fooling anybody. You’re trying to stop me from giving the answer. So let me give you the answer.

TUCKER: [chuckles] Kurt, this is a little nutty! I got to be honest! I’m asking you a very crisp question.

KURT: I noticed this earlier this week you take people off the air when you don’t like what they are saying.

. . .

TUCKER: You describe Trump as paranoid, unstable man.

KURT: You are not letting me answer the question.

TUCKER: Okay. I think that you are humiliating yourself by your unwillingness to answer a simple question. So please answer it, last time —

KURT: I’m trying to answer the question. Unfortunately, unlike on your world —

TUCKER: — do you have evidence that he was in a mental hospital in 1990 or don’t you.

KURT: — reality is not always able to give you a yes or no answer. If you don’t — look how much time we are wasting with me trying to say let me answer your question, and you refusing to allow me to do it.

TUCKER: I can’t imagine negotiating something with you. I think I would go crazy.

. . .

TUCKER: This is just stupid, Kurt, I’m sorry, nobody’s getting anything out of this. I’m asking you a plain question. You are not asking. You are filibustering. Let’s move on to something else. Can you stop? This is not interesting.

KURT: No, Tucker. I am not allowing to you make an accusation and then not allowing me to answer.

TUCKER: I’m not making an accusation, Kurt.

KURT: That is obscene! It is not journalism.

TUCKER: I’m asking you to substantiate a claim that you made.

KURT: If you don’t want to be a journalist, if you don’t want to have a dialogue, don’t have guests.

TUCKER: Can I just ask you one last question?

KURT: I’m trying to answer this question. Nobody is getting fooled. You are trying to stop me.

TUCKER: How can Newsweek employ you as a reporter, Kurt, when you’re throwing lines like this around that are untrue, that you can’t substantiate, when you say to the president’s spokesman “F you.” That’s not the behavior of a reporter.

KURT: Okay. Let’s go here. Let me take one for you. [again hauls out binder of Carlson “falsehoods.] How can Fox News employ you? You really want to do this? Do you really want to play this game or do you want me to answer?

TUCKER: This is performance art! I’ve never had an interview like this in my life!

KURT: We can put all this on newsweek.com if you want. Can I tweet it all out if you want. I want you to put it up on the Fox News website. Or, you can let me answer your question.

TUCKER: I think — you may be coming undone, Kurt.

KURT: I’m begging you to let me answer the question.

TUCKER: I’m going to give you 30 seconds to answer this question. Do you have evidence that he was institutionalized in a mental hospital in 1990; 30 seconds.

KURT: I am answering this question that is still on the table. Now, okay. I will say this because it’s a message I have got from people from the CIA. I know a lot of officers. I know a lot of agents. I’ve been in their homes, and they’re really delivering this to you and to Donald Trump. These are people who have sacrificed a lot for this country. They go through —

TUCKER: What’s the message?

KURT: — into the CIA every day. They walk past that wall with 117 black stars —

TUCKER: I get it. What’s the message?

KURT: If you’re going to say that we can’t talk about the fact that there are 117 patriots whose lives have been lost serving this country, that’s fine.

TUCKER: I’m starting to have concerns about you, Kurt. Tell me what the secret message from the CIA is.

KURT: — putting their lives on the line to be sources of information for the CIA. That information is coming in. That information is then being put together by analysts who are not well-paid and they do very hard work and they do it because they are patriots.

TUCKER: Yes, okay. I’m sorry. We’re out of time. Kurt. And I don’t mean this in a cruel way. I would have real concerns if I were one of your editors. And I mean that.

KURT: And when you turn around and call them liars, it’s fake news, it’s despicable.

TUCKER: I’m not calling anyone a liar. But I am saying, I’m concerned about your behavior on this show tonight. But thanks a lot for joining us.

KURT: That’s because you won’t let me answer your questions. I don’t think anybody is fooled.