Tucker Carlson, host of the “Most Watched Cable News Show,” a favourite of Proud Boys and other Fox viewers, now advocates naked guys standing on top of enormous rocks at dusk, gazing up at heaven, with red lasers pointed at their genitals. Why? “There is a catastrophic fall of testosterone in American guys,” Tucker claims. As a result, they require “full-body red light therapy” or “testicle tanning” (Dana Milbank, “Tucker Carlson: Aim Lasers at Men’s Private Parts,” Washington Post, April 18, 22).
What is the name of this Tucker fellow? If you aren’t familiar with Fox television, he is the host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” He was born in San Francisco, California, in the year 1969. His father was a wealthy media investor named Richard Warner Carlson, and his mother was Lisa McNeer, who divorced him when he was just six years old. Swanson Foods heiress was his stepmother. (Does anyone want a psychological evaluation?)
Tucker was deported to France and lived a “Bohemian” lifestyle there. He attended the renowned boarding school, St. George’s (Episcopal), in Rhode Island, unlike the other Proud Boys—white supremacists. There, he married Susie Andrew, the daughter of wealthy Headmaster Reverend George Andrew, a classmate and heiress. Later, he pursued higher study at Trinity College, a private institution in Hartford, Connecticut, where tuition was “just” $US 60 thousand. (According to biography, he was rejected from Ivy League schools.) Carlson has spent his whole life among the elites, despite his protestations to the contrary. (Anyone for intellectual dishonesty?)
Carlson applied to join the CIA but was turned down. In 2006, he did, however, make it onto “Dancing with the Stars” (can’t anyone?). He disputes the claims, yet some speculate that he would run for President in 2024. On the other hand, some opponents refer to him and his Fox companions as “Quislings,” after Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian Army officer who collaborated with Nazis during WWII. “Fox in the Chicken House?” is another option.
Other distinguishing characteristics? For one reason, Carlson’s statements like “white supremacy is actually not a serious problem” stand out throughout his broadcast. (This was three days after the awful El Paso slaughter.) Patrick Wood Crusius of Allen, Texas, a white shooter who espouses right-wing “Great Replacement” beliefs, killed 23 Hispanics and injured 23 others. His “manifesto” sounded eerily similar to Donald Trump’s declaration of a “immigration invasion.” Despite Carlson’s denial of any problem with white supremacy, the FBI was investigating over 850 active cases of domestic terrorism at the time, with white nationalists accounting for 40% of the investigations.
Carlson’s misogynistic lament “women are incredibly primitive” and “they simply need to be silent” (Tuckers Carlson’s many phone calls to “Bubba the Love Sponge,” cited in Ellen Cranley and James Pasley, “Things Tucker Carlson Has Said,” 27 Sep 19) are two more self-identifying comments. Anyway, I’m sure you’ve gotten the image by now. Carlson and Fox News create “an alternate reality,” in which “Putin isn’t so awful, but vaccines are” and “Right-wing politicians are heroes, while America’s top public health expert, Dr. Fauci, is a villain.”
The worst of “Tucker the Untouchable,” on the other hand, goes beyond misogyny and false health advice. It has a treasonous ring to it. “Tucker Carlson continues to defend Putin despite Russia’s inexcusable war crimes.” “Moscow’s gift that keeps on giving,” according to more than one writer (Jackie Calmes, “Tucker Carlson Shills for Putin,” Los Angeles Times, 18 Mar 22).
Even after two Fox journalists were killed by Russian soldiers while documenting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Tucker maintained his pro-Russian, pro-Putin stance! Furthermore, Fox’s arguments were repeated by the Russian news agency RIA Vavosti and Tsargrad, a pro-Putin television programme founded with the support of John Hanick, a former Fox producer (Stuart A. Thompson, “How Russian Media Uses Fox,” New York Times, 15 April 22).
Is “treason” a strong enough word? “Calling Tucker a traitor misses the point,” adds another observer (Zeeshan Aleem, “Real Reason Tucker Carlson Supports Russia,” MSNBC, 28 Feb 22). Carlson may not be a traitor, but he “wants the United States to become more like Russia”–its elites, all White, all autocratic, most without a touch of “wokeness,” and no sissy, low-testosterone men or government, as Aleem points out. The dispute over his motivations (giving Tucker some wiggle room) is still going on. Despite this, he and Fox keep polluting the well.
Perhaps you aren’t familiar with Carlson because you aren’t a Fox fan. “White, elderly, and Trump supporters” make up the majority of Fox viewers. Is it a hopeless task to expect those viewers to emerge from their cocoon? There is some reason to be optimistic. An experiment was conducted by two social scientists. They paid 304 Fox customers $15 per hour to watch at least 7 hours of CNN each week instead of their typical Fox viewing. They went along with it. A significant number of people, at least 10%, changed their minds. They no longer believed the conflict was caused by Ukraine or the United States, or that vaccines were harmful or unneeded (David Brockman, University of California, Berkeley, and Joshua Kalla, Yale, “Fox News Viewers Paid to Watch CNN,” The Guardian, 11 April 22).
The majority of viewers returned to their former behaviours after the experiment. This echo chamber, though, isn’t just about Tucker Carlson. Fox has discovered and will continue to find people who will do its bidding. Rupert Murdoch, the 91-year-old Fox owner who is “rich” at least $US40 billion, is the Rasputin behind the voice. He is a magnate who was born in Australia. Wendy Deng Wenge, Murdoch’s third wife, educated at Guanyzhou University in the People’s Republic of China. Their marriage took place only 17 days after his second wife filed for divorce. (Is it any surprise that he and Donald Trump were such close friends?) Murdoch, a backer of Trump for President in 2024, influences the minds (and souls?) of a sizable portion of the American television audience. Other Fox right-wingers, such as Hannity, Ingraham, and Bartiromo, have aided him.
“Government exaggerates deaths by COVID (really, figures are understated); and/or “Government is hiding up deaths from vaccines;” and/or “vaccines cause infertility”–all incorrect (Kaiser Family Foundation Study: “Fox Viewers Likely to Believe Falsehoods,” Associated Press, 16 Nov 21). As you might anticipate, true believers (i.e., Fox viewers) are mostly Republicans. “No other source comes close to matching Fox’s appeal among Republicans,” according to John Gramlich in “Five Facts About Fox,” Pew Research, April 8, 20.
This is the problem for the rest of us. We are now facing the danger of nuclear war—many believe it is becoming more likely as Putin appears increasingly desperate. Meanwhile, one of America’s major political parties, the Republicans, and its preferred television network, Fox, are collaborating with the enemy. Many of these deceived viewers are friends and family members of ours. How do we get in touch with them? We’re not going to give up.
Will enough of them, like Chris Wallace and a few others, repent? Will more Fox watchers notice the inconsistency? Will they be able to comprehend how they’ve been used? Will they revert to being good Americans? Will people change their minds before it’s too late—in November 2022—and “vote the rascals out?” The fate of America as we know it, and indeed the fate of the entire globe, is in jeopardy.