Tucker Carlson, he of the “Most Watched Cable News Show,” he, beloved of Proud Boys and other Fox viewers, now promotes naked men, on top of large rocks, at twilight, gazing up at heaven, beaming red lasers at their genitals. Why? Because, says Tucker, “there is a total collapse of testosterone in American men.” Hence, they need “full body, red light therapy, or “testicle tanning” (Dana Milbank, “Tucker Carlson: Aim Lasers at Men’s Private Parts,” Washington Post, 18 Apr 22).
Who is this Tucker fellow? If you’re not a Fox-watcher, he is star of “Tucker Carlson Tonight”, Fox tv. He was born 1969, San Francisco, California. His father was Richard Warner Carlson, wealthy media investor, his mother, Lisa McNeer, who separated from them when he was only six. His stepmother was heiress to Swanson Foods. (Psychological analysis, anyone?)
Sent to France, Tucker lived a “Bohemian” life style there. Not at all like other Proud Boys—white supremacists – he studied at the prestigious boarding school, St. George’s (Episcopal), in Rhode Island. There, he married classmate and heiress, Susie Andrew, daughter of wealthy Headmaster Reverend George Andrew. Later, higher education at private Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, tuition, “only” $US 60 thousand. (Apparently, according to bios, he couldn’t get in Ivy League schools.) For one who claims to detest elites, Carlson has lived his entire life among them. (Intellectual dishonesty, anyone?)
Carlson applied, but was rejected for entry into the CIA. However, he found his way into “Dancing with the Stars” in 2006 (can’t anyone?). He denies the rumors, but some say he is a possible candidate for President in 2024. On the other hand, on the darker side, some critics call him and his Fox-fellow-travelers “Quislings,” (after Vidkun Quisling, Norwegian Army Officer who collaborated with Nazi’s during WW II.) Or, you might choose “Fox in the Chicken House?”
Other identifying traits? For one thing: throughout Carlson’s show, his utterances, such as “white supremacy is actually not a real problem” stand out. (That was three days after the horrific massacre in El Paso.) A white shooter, Patrick Wood Crusius of Allen, Texas, espousing “Great Replacement” theories of right wingers, killed 23 Hispanics, and injured 23 others. His “manifesto” was reminiscent of Donald Trump’s cry of a “migrant invasion.” Despite Carlson’s denial of any problem with white supremacy, the FBI pursued, at that time, over 850 active cases of domestic terrorism, 40% of them white nationalists.
Other characteristic, self-identifying comments by Carlson: his misogynistic lament “women are extremely primitive” and “they just need to be quiet” (Tuckers Carlson’s frequent phone calls to “Bubba the Love Sponge,” cited in Ellen Cranley and James Pasley, ”Things Tucker Carlson Has Said,” 27 Sep 19). Anyway, by now, you get the picture. Carlson, and Fox News present “an alternative universe;” e.g. Putin is not so bad, but vaccines are bad” and “Right wing leaders are heroes, but America’s top public health official, Dr. Fauci, is a villain.”
The worst, however, of “Tucker the Untouchable” goes beyond misogyny and health misinformation. It leans toward treason. “Tucker Carlson keeps defending Putin while Russia’s war crimes are indefensible.” He is, more than one reporter claims, “Moscow’s gift that keeps on giving” (Jackie Calmes, “Tucker Carlson Shills for Putin,” Los Angeles Times, 18 Mar 22).
Tucker persisted in his pro-Russian, pro-Putin stance, even after two Fox journalists were killed by Russian forces while covering the invasion of Ukraine by Russia! Moreover, Fox’s arguments were parroted by RIA Vavosti, the Russian news agency and Tsargrad, a pro-Putin tv channel, started with help from John Hanick, a former Fox producer (Stuart A. Thompson, “How Russian Media Uses Fox” New York Times, 15 Apr 22).
Is “treason” too strong? Another analyst resists; he says: “calling Tucker a traitor misses the point” (Zeeshan Aleem, “Real Reason Tucker Carlson Supports Russia,” MSNBC, 28 Feb 22). Aleem makes the fine point that Carlson may not be a traitor, but “wants the US to become more like Russia”–its elites, all White, all autocratic, most without a trace of “wokeness,” no sissy, low-testosterone men or government. That debate about his motives (allowing Tucker some leeway) is still on-going. Nevertheless, he and Fox continue poisoning the well.
Perhaps you didn’t know about Carlson because you are not a Fox devotee. Most Fox viewers are “predominately white, elderly, and Trump supporters.” Would it be a lost cause to expect those viewers to get out of their bubble? There is some hope. Two social scientists tried an experiment. They paid $15 an hour to some 304 Fox viewers to watch at least 7 hours of CNN each week, and to halt their usual viewing of Fox. They complied. A few actually changed opinions, at least 10%. They no longer believed the war was Ukraine or the US’s fault, or that vaccines were unnecessary or evil (David Brockman, the University of California, Berkeley, and Joshua Kalla, Yale, “Fox News Viewers Paid to Watch CNN,” The Guardian, 11 April 22).
After the experiment, viewers mostly went back to old habits. But, this echo chamber is not just a matter of Tucker Carlson. Fox has found and will find others to do its bidding. The 91 year old owner of Fox, Rupert Murdoch, “worth” at least $US40 Billion, is the Rasputin behind the voice. He is an Australian born magnate. Married four times, Murdoch’s third wife, Wendy Deng Wenge, studied at Guanyzhou University, People’s Republic of China. Their marriage came only 17 days after a divorce from his second wife. (No wonder he and Donald Trump were such buddies?). Murdoch, supporter of Trump for President in 2024, shapes the minds (and souls?) of large swatches of the US television viewing public. He has help from other Fox right wingers: Hannity/ Ingraham/ Bartiromo, et al.
Together, the Fox team, led by Carlson, persuade viewers to believe in so many falsehoods; viz: “Government exaggerates deaths by COVID (actually, numbers are underestimated); and/or “Government is covering up deaths from vaccines;” and/or “vaccines cause infertility”–all false (Kaiser Family Foundation Study: “Fox Viewers Likely to Believe Falsehoods,” Associated Press, 16 Nov 21). Faithful believers (i.e., Fox viewers) are, as you might expect, largely Republicans. “No other source comes close to matching the appeal of Fox among Republicans” (John Gramlich, “Five Facts About Fox,” Pew Research, 8 Apr 20).
This, for the rest of us, is the dilemma. We now face the possibility of nuclear war—many think it more and more likely, as Putin seems more and more desperate. Meanwhile, here at home, one of America’s major political parties, Republicans, and their favorite television conglomerate, Fox, consorts with the enemy. Many of these duped viewers are among our friends and families. How do we reach them? We can’t stop trying.
Will enough of them repent, as did Chris Wallace and a few others? Will more Fox viewers spy the hypocrisy? Will they understand how they have been used? Will they become, once again, good Americans? Will they turn around quickly enough—in November 2022 – before it’s too late, and “vote the rascals out?” The fate of America as we know it, indeed, the fate of the world, hang in the balance.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by UT-Rio Grande Valley Professor Emeritus Dr. Gary Joe Mounce. Mounce can be reached by email via [email protected].
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows TV personality Tucker Carlson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia/Gage Skidmore)
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Bravo Gary. Excellent. I hope readers find a lot of food for thought in your column.