OXON HILL, Md.—The battle for America today is one between good and evil, popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Friday night in his keynote address at The Heritage Foundation’s 50th anniversary gala.

“What you’re watching is not a political movement,” Carlson said. “It’s evil.”

The side of evil is characterized by violence, hate, disorder, division, disorganization, and filth, Carlson said in remarks at the black-tie-optional affair at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center here. And praying to protect America against such things is something he too often forgets to do, he told a ballroom audience of about 2,000.

The battle is not about economics or policy papers, Carlson said, as it was in 1991 when he began his first job at The Heritage Foundation as a fact-checker on the same day communist hard-liners staged a coup in the Soviet Union. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

“The side of good is characterized by calmness, tranquility, peace, lack of conflict, cleanliness,” Carlson said. “And evil is characterized by their opposites.”

Now, the Fox News host said, those on the side of goodness must assess and challenge phenomena such as the transgender and pro-abortion movements—and the old mindset won’t work. 

Arguing that abortion is a positive good is actually promoting “child sacrifice,” Carlson said, to resounding applause from the audience of about 2,000.

“The weight of the government and a lot of corporate interests are behind transgenderism,” he added. “None of this makes sense in conventional political terms.”

When he looks around, Carlson said, he sees people under the pressure of the present moment. His fellow Americans are saying things they don’t believe and can’t define to avoid cancellation due to humanity’s herd instinct, he said. 

Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts introduced Carlson.

“God bless him for having the courage” not to knuckle under to political correctness, Roberts said of Carlson, adding: “I know that all of you are grateful for his witness … to that [American] flag there.”

Carlson’s speech capped not only Heritage’s evening gala but its two-day 50th Anniversary Leadership Summit, which brought together elected officials, conservative leaders, former government officials, and other Heritage supporters to discuss the future of America and an agenda for the next president.

A speech by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, closed the Leadership Summit, which also featured remarks from Senate Republicans Mike Lee of Utah, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tim Scott of South Carolina, and JD Vance of Ohio.

America has “terrible people in charge,” Carlson said hours later, from government officials to clergymen to educators. 

With a note of disbelief at the change in a few years, Carlson spoke of the so-called LGBTQIA+ movement, quipping: “Find a plus and I’ll interview them.” 

He then turned serious.

“There always is a countervailing force at work, a counteracting force to the badness,” Carlson told the appreciative crowd. “It’s called goodness.”

A group of Americans always will stand against left-wing ideology by refusing to betray their faith, dignity, or autonomy in going along with something that is demonstrably not true, he said.

“There’s nothing you can do to make me do that,” Carlson said, to applause.

“The second you decide to tell the truth about something, you are filled with this power from somewhere else,” he said. “The more you tell the truth, the stronger you become.”

The reverse is true about lying, Carlson said, a practice that makes people “weak and afraid.”

Many Americans pay a heavy price for telling the truth, yet stand firm, he said, and they are heroes to him. 

Carlson credited those who speak the truth against diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, called DEI, even when it costs them their careers.

He repeatedly encouraged his audience to pray for America, rather than giving in to debilitating worry about their nation—something he said he often forgets to do himself. 

Carlson urged prayer for the nation even as he mocked himself as an Episcopalian, one of “the Samaritans of Christianity.”

“I don’t pray enough for the country, and I should,” he said. 

Carlson hosts Fox News’ flagship prime-time cable news program “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” consistently drawing more than 3 million viewers nightly. Since the 2017 launch of the show, which airs weeknights at 8 p.m. Eastern time, Carlson steadily has built it into the top-ranking cable news show in prime time.

A sharp-tongued, quick-witted commentator and questioner, Carlson most recently demonstrated his clout by airing a two-part interview this week with Tesla and SpaceX executive Elon Musk, who continues to torment the Left as the new CEO of Twitter.

Roberts and Carlson traded quips in a brief question-and-answer session after the Fox News host’s speech.

When Roberts asked about the biggest social and cultural change Carlson has seen in the past 10 or more years, he quickly replied: “The lack of information.”

Citing Musk in the recent interview, Carlson explained:

He had such a wonderful line, he said, ‘The most likely outcome is the most ironic outcome.’ And … I would argue that’s a Christian precept, actually. It’s [in] the Beatitudes; you know, ‘The first shall be last.’ And the opposite of what you think is going to happen, happens, so often.

The core promise of the internet was as much information as we’ve ever had, at your fingertips. And the result has been a centralization of information, which is deliberate needless to say, unnoticed by most people, that results in more control of information than we could even have imagined 20 years ago.

Polling, Carlson said, suggests hundreds of millions of Americans don’t have the facts about issues that affect them, as was seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That challenges the idea of democracy, which rests on the notion of an informed voting public, the citizen,” he told Roberts, adding:

The last thing I’ll say is don’t throw away your hard-copy books, because they are the repository, the enduring repository [of knowledge] … because they can’t be disappeared, because they exist physically. And I would say a corollary to this is don’t throw away your relationships with people, because they can’t be disappeared either.

In response to Roberts’ question about what his audience should have “top of mind” in the morning, Carlson said: “The very first thing you should do every single day is tell the people you love that you love them.”

Carlson’s keynote was his first speech at a Heritage event since 2018, when the Fox host and commentator received the organization’s Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship, an award that recognizes work to protect and advance American values.

Carlson actually began his journalism career at Heritage, working for Policy Journal, a quarterly journal it published at the time.

Roberts, who took over as the think tank’s seventh president in late 2021, praised Carlson in February for his influence and courage while announcing the commentator’s participation in Heritage’s 50th anniversary celebration.

“Tucker Carlson is a fearless American who is unafraid to challenge the Washington regime, ask tough questions, and hold the ruling elite accountable. His nightly show is must-see TV for anyone who realizes we have limited window of time to save this country,” Roberts said in the announcement.

Before becoming a standout in the Fox News lineup, Carlson co-founded and served as editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller as a conservative news organization. He is the former host of MSNBC’s “Tucker” and CNN’s “Crossfire.”

Carlson also is host of the Fox Nation streaming series “Tucker Carlson Today” and “Tucker Carlson Originals.” He is the author of the books “Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution” and “The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism.”

This report was updated within an hour of publication to include Carlson’s comments from the brief Q&A.

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