Fox News has its share of interesting anchors. From Sean Hannity, who is basically a Trump propaganda bot to Jesse Watters, who is equally made up of eyebrows and baseless conspiracy theories. None though are more interesting and utterly dangerous as Tucker Carlson, a man who is currently at war with an actual Muppet. Before we get to his weird fight against the youngest resident of Sesame Street, let's look back on Tucker’s career. One filled with grifts, faux-populism, and more bowties than the average Disney character.
Tucker Carlson began his career the same way he continues to fuel it, with a lie. These words are from Tucker himself in his book Politicians Partisans and Parasites:
“I was heading back to my desk with a take-out hot dog one afternoon when I ran into the receptionist. She asked me what I knew about the O.J. trial. My instinct was to answer honestly (“just about nothing”), but for some reason I caught myself. I asked her why she wanted to know. Well, she explained, Dan Rather’s booker just called looking for an O.J. expert to go on 48 Hours tonight. Everyone else is still at lunch. Can you do it?”
This was the first sign of Tucker’s true aspirations: television. Once he broke in, the path to rising to the top of the hierarchy was simply a straight line. Over the next few years, Carlson actually did some serious journalism. He covered Iraq after 9/11 and wrote well-received profiles on Paul Ryan and George W. Bush. He garnered support from media outlets across both aisles. I read some of his book and his articles and, I have to wonder? What happened? Don’t get me wrong, his career as we know it only exists because of a dumb lie yet, the question is posed. What happened to him? The answer, of course, is the brain rotting empire that is Fox News.
Following stints on CNN and MSNBC, Carlson landed a guest contribution role on Fox. He still would be considered more along the moderate-libertarian wing of the Republican party. Clad in bowties, he would hammer Presidents Bush and Obama nearly equally calling for reductions in government and an end to foreign intervention. He even praised the New York Times and implored Conservatives to be as vigilant as the Times when it comes to fact findings to a crowd of “boos” at CPAC in 2009. Tucker’s shift to more radical coverage could easily be dated to the premier of Tucker Carlson Tonight in November of 2016, following the election of President Trump.
Donald Trump ran, and won on a message of economic populism framed around the death of middle America. This was a triggering point for Tucker to completely switch his ideology. Backing away from his staunch libertarian economic policy, Carlson turned to attacking elites, mostly corporations for moving jobs outside the States and the dissolution of blue-collar jobs in the Midwest due to automation. Tucker is of course correct here. This fact is agreed on by both sides of the aisle. The problem though is that all of Carlson’s arguments are completely disingenuous. When the Republicans pass bill after bill aimed at cutting taxes for the uber-rich, protecting banks and lenders, and moving to slash benefits for welfare, Carlson deflects, taking aim at Liberals for playing identity politics. Instead of covering the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Carlson would showcase his disdain for members of the Trans community. Instead of pressuring companies to pay their workers a living wage, Carlson would shift the focus to the famous caravan of immigrants coming to take jobs from hardworking Americans. Instead of calling out those in power, Carlson attacks vulnerable minority groups or, alternatively, Hollywood.
Hollywood has, bizarrely, been the biggest target of Carlson’s vitriol. Just last week, Carlson posted a series of celebrity names who donated to the bail funds for Black Lives Matter in the wake of the George Floyd murder. Protests that Carlson says are “not about George Floyd or racial justice. They're about Trump and seizing power”. Before you read any further please watch the video that Tucker is under fire for being mad at down below.
This follows Carlson’s pattern of simply ignoring racial injustices in America. The fact is though, Carlson is a very intelligent man. He knows exactly what he is doing, and that is implanting seeds of unjustifiable anger into a captive audience. Of course, this strategical ignorance sparked Carlson’s outrage at an objectively well-handled discussion of the protests on Sesame Street. Claiming Hollywood is attempting to indoctrinate young children with Liberal propaganda is straight out of the same playbook of scare tactics and outrage against the liberal elites on the coasts. Note, Tucker was born, raised, and works out of D.C. and is the heir to the Swanson Frozen Foods Fortune, making 8 million dollars a year on his Fox contract.
The real truth is, Tucker Carlson does not believe in anything. He flip flops between (relatively) respectable moderate Libertarian and raging white supremacist. Really, he molds himself to fit whatever the political climate of the day is. As long as he maintains, his 4.65 million daily viewers, he will continue the grift. His words, no doubt influence those viewers. By ludicrously claiming that white supremacy is a Democratic “hoax” and adding in a drop of anti-Semitism stating that George Soros is attempting to “remake America”, Carlson is knowingly pushing his viewers into more radicalized territory. This is why he is the most dangerous man in American media. Unlike other far-right broadcasts that one would have to go searching out on the internet, I have regularly seen “Tucker Carlson Tonight” at doctors’ offices and restaurants. The constant droning of white supremacist talking points is becoming normalized and people are no doubt going to take what he says to heart. Following his latest outbursts, almost all of his notable advertisers have pulled from his show. I have sympathy for this though. Who here does not think Elmo is the spawn of the Devil. I mean, look at him:
In all seriousness, nothing is really going to change as Fox already announced that the companies have just begun to shift to advertising to its other programs. If companies really do take offence to the content Carlson continues to create, it is probably time to stop supporting the channel that airs his nonsense.