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.

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail