FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

All About Tucker Carlson

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

 

More articles by:

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.

January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
Nick Pemberton
There Are More Important Things Than The Truth
Brian Cloughley
How Trump’s Insults and Lies are Harming America
David Rosen
Sexual Predators in the Era of Trump
Tamara Pearson
Everything the Western Mainstream Media Outlets Get Wrong When Covering Poor Countries
Richard E. Rubenstein
Trump vs. the Anti-Trumps: It’s the System That Needs Changing Not Just the Personnel
Christopher Ketcham
A Walk in the Woods, Away from the Screens
Basav Sen
Democrats Failed Their First Big Test on Climate
Lauren Smith
Nicaragua – The Irony of the NICA Act Being Signed into Law by Trump
Joseph Natoli
Will Trumpism Outlive Trump?
Olivia Alperstein
The EPA Rule Change That Could Kill Thousands
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
The New Congress Needs to Create a Green Planet at Peace
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Cuba: Trump Turns the Vise
Ramzy Baroud
When Bolsonaro and Netanyahu Are ‘Brothers’: Why Brazil Should Shun the Israeli Model
Mitchell Zimmerman
Government by Extortion
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail