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Far-right Fox News host Tucker Carlson is under fire for defending Andrew Tate even while Romanian police were investigating him for alleged human trafficking.
In an interview with the misogynist social media influencer in August of this year, Mr Carlson incredulously asked his audience: “They’re telling us he’s a criminal. Okay: has he been charged? Who are the victims?”
Those questions were answered on Friday when police in Romania arrested Mr Tate and his brother on suspicion of human trafficking and rape, accusing them and two other people of forming “an organised crime group” to make money from coerced pornography.
In fact, Romanian authorities were publicly known to have been investigating Mr Tate as early as April, when they raided his house in Bucharest following reports that a woman had been held captive in his house.
Mr Tate, an Anglo-American kickboxer-turned-internet personality who gained notoriety this year for his comments about women, has previously denied the Romanian allegations, and is innocent until proven guilty.
Mr Carlson’s edited 15-minute TV segment in August spent very little time on that, instead focusing on Mr Tate’s ban from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, branding him the “most censored man in the world”.
“No one gets to tell you who you can watch. No one gets to tell you what you have to think. No one gets to tell you who you have to hate. You’re an American, and an adult; you can make those decisions yourself,” said Mr Carlson, in a clip first highlighted by Twitter user @Acyn.
“So why don’t they want you to hear from Andrew Tate? They really think he’s a worse influence than the youth than, say, [rapper] Cardi B? Tell us how!
“They’re telling us he’s a criminal. Okay: has he been charged? Who are the victims? What are their names?”
News outlets typically do not name rape victims unless they consent to being publicly identified, and some countries make this a legal requirement.
Asked by Mr Carlson about claims of human trafficking, of which the host declared himself “sceptical”, Mr Tate claimed he had been “Swatted”, meaning that someone had maliciously called the police to his house in the hope of harming him.
“They turned up, they investigated, they realised that nobody was in the house against their will, there was no crime committed, they said ‘okay, you’re not a suspect, but you are a witness to this,'” Mr Tate said.
“Nobody was hurt, there’s no human trafficking, there’s no women who were tied up, there’s none of these things. It’s all just complete fallacy.”
Mr Tate has previously said that women “bear some responsibility” for being raped; that they are happier “serving men” and should live subordinate to men as wives and mothers; and that he would deal with a woman who accused her of cheating by hitting her and choking her.