The NYTimes profiled Tucker Carlson this weekend, and I cannot help but think that the profile will not only embolden Tucker Carlson but please him to read. It begins with a story about how a lot of major advertisers left the show in 2018 after he said that immigrants were making America “dirtier and poorer,” and how instead of facing consequences, Lachlan Murdoch — the chairman of Fox News — celebrated him at a Christmas party the next night when Carlson doubled down.
Then the profile rattled off what Carlson will only construe as a list of “accomplishments”:
Mr. Carlson has constructed what may be the most racist show in the history of cable news — and also, by some measures, the most successful. Though he frequently declares himself an enemy of prejudice — “We don’t judge them by group, and we don’t judge them on their race,” Mr. Carlson explained to an interviewer a few weeks before accusing impoverished immigrants of making America dirty — his show teaches loathing and fear. Night after night, hour by hour, Mr. Carlson warns his viewers that they inhabit a civilization under siege — by violent Black Lives Matter protesters in American cities, by diseased migrants from south of the border, by refugees importing alien cultures, and by tech companies and cultural elites who will silence them, or label them racist, if they complain. When refugees from Africa, numbering in the hundreds, began crossing into Texas from Mexico during the Trump administration, he warned that the continent’s high birthrates meant the new arrivals might soon “overwhelm our country and change it completely and forever.” Amid nationwide outrage over George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer, Mr. Carlson dismissed those protesting the killing as “criminal mobs.” Companies like Angie’s List and Papa John’s dropped their ads. The following month, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” became the highest-rated cable news show in history.
The profile is an accurate depiction of Carlson and a show that often lifts talking points from white nationalist sites like The Daily Stormer and traffics in racist dog whistles. It’s also exactly the kind of piece that Carlson will be able to neuter by calling it a “smear campaign” from “woke elites.” By doing so, he’ll effectively paint himself as the victim and successfully paper over evidence of misinformation and accusations that he amplifies white nationalist content.
Democrats and liberals have no idea how to counterattack. Pointing out the man’s hypocrisy is futile; making fun of him only gives him more power, and dismissing him as a lunatic who — by his own admission — cannot be taken seriously as a news person only allows Carlson and Fox News to bury their bigotry behind the facade of “opinion” and “commentary.”
Tucker Carlson needs to be taken seriously for what he is: An extreme radical, a right-wing cult leader who has literally isolated himself in backwoods Maine — where he tapes most of his show remotely — and who is actively trying to start an insurrection under the guise of patriotic nationalism.
Tucker Carlson is the Jim Jones of Fox News, passing out Kool-Aid to viewers he is trying to provoke into race and cultural wars. He’s trying to convince easily manipulated white men that their livelihoods are under attack from immigrants and people of color while also encouraging them to increase their arsenals of guns. He preaches that mask mandates are tantamount to child abuse, and that his viewers should confront those who wear masks and threaten violence. He’s a dangerous radical.
Carlson is a radical elite who has millions of dollars, lives in an isolated compound, and has hijacked an entire network and uses it to espouse extreme views. Tucker Carlson is not a punchline, and we need to stop giving him what he wants, which is outrage and “liberal tears” that fuel him and allow him to continue painting himself as the aggrieved anti-establishment victim who — it bears repeating again — lives in an isolated compound he spent millions to build in rural America, safe from the violence he provokes.
He has the brainwashing power of Charles Manson and the political views of David Duke and Fox News viewers are his Waco. The Times piece itself says that Carlson answers to no one except Lachlan Murdoch, who only encourages Carlson’s extreme radical views and continues to have the backing of corporate Americans to do so. Tucker Carlson is not echoing talking points from white nationalists: He is dictating those talking points to his viewers. The Daily Stormer takes cues from him. He is amassing an army of racist aggrieved white men with an endless supply of guns and night after night after night he is pointing out the enemy: Immigrants, Black people, Democratic politicians, and even those who dare to wear a mask. He’s a bowtie-wearing Ted Kaczynski using Fox News every night to deliver his manifestos, and we have to treat Carlson — who may even have political aspirations — exactly as such: Andrew Anglin with a much larger megaphone.
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