FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

All About Tucker Carlson

by STEVEN HIGGS

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when Tucker Carlson approached the podium on the IU Auditorium stage last Tuesday evening. I knew that he was one of the shouting heads on CNN’s Crossfire. But since I have come to view post-9/11 cable news as an insidious virus infecting the body politic, I didn’t know if he played a liberal or a conservative.

I was fairly certain, however, that I would leave the experience secure in my professional judgment that Carlson, a symbol of the corporate TV news biz, defames the term “journalist” when he claims to be one. I didn’t expect to exit the Auditorium gratified. But, on balance, I did.

It wasn’t that Carlson, who put on a splendid performance, persuaded me during his lecture on “The Political Landscape” that he is a practitioner of the honorable craft of journalism. To the contrary. During one of his Democrat-bashing segments, he said: “Part of this is unfair, not that I’ve ever had trouble being unfair. Indeed I do it for a living.”

Journalists seek the truth. Carlson seeks ratings. That the two are mutually exclusive was underscored in a Wednesday New York Times piece headlined “Cable War Coverage Suggests a New ‘Fox Effect’ on Television.” It read in part:

“This was supposed to be CNN’s war, a chance for the network, which is owned by AOL Time Warner, to reassert its ratings lead using its international perspective and straightforward approach.

“Instead, it has been the Fox News Channel, owned by the News Corporation, that has emerged as the most-watched source of cable news by far, with anchors and commentators who skewer the mainstream media, disparage the French and flay anybody else who questions President Bush’s war effort.

“Fox’s formula had already proved there were huge ratings in opinionated news with an America-first flair. But with 46 of the top 50 cable shows last week alone, Fox has brought prominence to a new sort of TV journalism that casts aside traditional notions of objectivity, holds contempt for dissent and eschews the skepticism of government at mainstream journalism’s core.”

Imagine CNN as the responsible media. Imagine, as Carlson said at Tuesday’s lecture, that cable news’ leading personalities ­ Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Chris Matthews, James Carville, etc. ­ actually tone down their personalities for their shows. Imagine that.

My gratification didn’t stem from the fact that, on occasion during his performance, Carlson did deliver some truth. For instance, he was particularly on point when he skewered the Democratic Party for its lack of ideology. Healthy political debate is critical to a democracy, he said. Likening an argument with a Democrat to an argument with a drunk or a child, Carlson said it’s worse than unpleasant: “It’s also bad for the country.”

But Tuesday’s speech-goers had to endure prodigious quantities of nonsense in between such nuggets of truth.

Carlson characterized arguments that Bush War II is over oil as “majestic dumbness.” Never mind that American troops aggressively secured the oil fields but retreated when banks, hospitals, museums, and every other institution in Iraqi life was looted and destroyed. Never mind that everything the United States does in the Middle East, except its commitment to Israel, is about oil. If Iraq didn’t have oil, the U.S. government would still be selling Saddam Hussein deadly chemicals to use against his own people.

He brushed off campaign finance reform as the driving force behind John McCain’s early electoral success in the 2000 primary elections, positing instead that McCain had no ideology and couldn’t explain his own success. Never mind that McCain, like Al Gore, achieved electoral success espousing populist ideology directed at the chasm between the rich and the poor, the imbalance between the powerful and the disenfranchised. Never mind that the McCain-Feingold bill, the long-stalled legislative proposal to reform campaign finance, became law shortly after McCain’s campaign on the issue.

Nonsense was a commodity in great supply Tuesday evening, at least on the stage. Since it was tax day, Carlson told the crowd that if they were self-employed, they would hate the IRS. For the record, I am self-employed. I paid three tax bills last Tuesday. I do not hate the IRS.

The crowd, however, provided intellectual relief from the onstage babble, witty and entertaining as it was.

When the predominantly student audience got its chance at the microphone, questioner after questioner dispelled the notion that today’s students are self-indulgent, Real World twits. Steady lines six to eight deep formed behind two microphones until time ran out. And they ignored Carlson’s repeated requests to hit him hard, to be rude, like he is. Instead, they asked thoughtful, reasoned questions.

Their questions, about conservatives and gays, motivations behind the war, the need for a United Nations’ role in Iraq’s future, broader military excursions in the Middle East, and the impacts of the war on the American economy, to list a few, suggested deep skepticism about the Bush administration and its right-wing agenda.

Many prefaced their questions by telling Carlson they disagreed with his politics. One told him: “I think all my friends are nervous because I’m such a liberal.”

I found that gratifying.

STEVEN HIGGS is the editor of the Bloomington Alternative, where this article originally appeared. He can be reached at: editor@BloomingtonAlternative.com

 

Steven Higgs is an environmental journalist and photographer living in Bloomington, Ind. He owns and operates Natural Bloomington: Ecotours and More. His new book A Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana is scheduled for release by Indiana University Press on April 20, 2016.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail