Of all the conservatives attacking out Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg these past several weeks for not visiting East Palestine, Ohio, Fox News host Tucker Carlson has used some of the most extreme language, calling Buttigieg – and the Biden administration by extension – racist against white people because of the federal government’s reaction to the train derailment.
Carlson has demanded Buttigieg visit East Palestine, saying last week, “There’s never been a Cabinet secretary this flamboyantly incompetent, and this is so obviously uncaring, almost to the point of evil.”
Buttigieg visited East Palestine on Thursday this week, but that didn’t stop Carlson’s rage at the gay Cabinet member. Calrson started his segment yesterday by saying that Buttigieg took a break from “breastfeeding” to go to the site of the derailment. Carlson has used this homophobic joke in the past about Buttigieg since Buttigieg is a gay father.
Carlson then ranted about how Buttigieg didn’t answer a bad faith question that a reporter working for the rightwing advocacy group Turning Point USA shouted at him as he was walking with other officials. Carlson called Buttigieg “King Buttigieg” sarcastically, since apparently anyone who doesn’t answer every question shouted at them thinks they’re royalty.
Then Carlson shared some footage of Buttigieg yawning and sleeping on a plane going home. Buttigieg arrived at the site of the derailment at 8 a.m. after flying to Ohio earlier that morning.
“So he had a pointless visit just to say he was there,” Carlson said angrily, even though he was the one who was angry for weeks because Buttigieg hadn’t visited. A picture of Buttigieg sleeping showed on the screen with the words “So very SLEEPY.”
“After he did, Buttigieg flew commercial for once, hopped a flight back to D.C., and promptly passed out,” Carlson bellowed. “He was exhausted from a whole day of doing nothing.”
Carlson didn’t mention anything that Buttigieg did in Ohio, didn’t talk about the people Buttigieg met with, and didn’t even didn’t show footage from the press conference Buttigieg held. That is, he appears to have concluded that Buttigieg did nothing because Carlson didn’t actually look into what Buttigieg did.
On MSNBC, Buttigieg responded to Carlson’s criticism that the federal government hasn’t helped people in East Palestine because they’re white.
“Yeah, I don’t know where Tucker Carlson was when they were trying to dismantle the EPA, which is now maybe the main thing standing between the people of East Palestine and ecological disaster,” he said.
“They’re always ready to take it back to race. But the reality is we’re gonna serve everybody, that’s how this administration works.”
“We’re not out there to bring resentment,” he said. “We’re out there to bring results.”
In the days following the train derailment, Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, didn’t ask for federal assistance. It wasn’t until last week that he and Ohio’s congressional delegation asked for federal help. DeWine said on MSNBC that the federal government has been helping and federal workers “are doing a very good job.”
While conservatives were angry at Buttigieg for not visiting the site of the derailment earlier, it is actually uncommon for transportation secretaries to visit the sites of accidents. Elaine Chao, who was transportation secretary under Donald Trump, never visited the sites of any train derailments, and there were several fatal train accidents during her tenure.
Buttigieg has said that he did not visit sooner because he wanted to give the National Transportation Safety Board space to help people.
“I have followed the normal practice of transportation secretaries in the early days after a crash, allowing NTSB to lead the safety work and staying out of their way,” he told CBS News on Tuesday. “But I am very eager to have conversations with people in East Palestine about how this is impacted them.”