The New York Times debuted a three-part series on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson over the weekend, complete with an interactive graphic, all to make the same claim repeated by the paper over and over again: Carlson is racist, and so are his viewers.
More than a dozen Times reporters combed through 1,150 episodes aired over six years of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to chronicle the prime-time host’s meteoric rise to the top of cable news. “Dozens of friends and former colleagues” offered exclusive insight. Times Political Reporter and MSNBC Contributor Nicholas Confessore served as the series’ primary author.
“How Tucker Carlson Stoked White Fear to Conquer Cable,” headlined part one of the series in which the Times cloaked activist journalism by slapping a “news” label on it. Part two examined how Carlson’s programming inherited a growing movement of conservative populism activated by President Donald Trump in 2016.
Part three outlined the Times’ findings in a comprehensive graphic to paint its image of Carlson as a divisive culture warrior with the audacity to reject the left-wing orthodoxy on race, sex, and elite opinion. The paper traced his heritage back more than 150 years, investigated his personal familial matters in detail, and probed his influence in American media characterized by his rejection of the “ruling class” — i.e., The New York Times.
“Night after night on Fox, Tucker Carlson weaponizes his viewers’ fears and grievances to create what may be the most racist show in the history of cable news,” Confessore opened a summary of the three-part package. “It is also, by some measures, the most successful.”
The Times conveyed Carlson as a prominent crusader for far-right extremists who champion his program, indicting the anchor and his viewers as guilty by mere association. The program “reliably draws more than three million viewers” on any given night. The Times argues sharing political concerns about similar topics as fringe extremists makes Carlson and his followers complicit with extremist elements that lead to violence. The paper even portrayed a deadly 2019 shooting as a Carlson-inspired event.
“In August 2019, days after a 21-year-old white man killed 22 people at an El Paso Walmart to protest what [Carlson] called the ‘Hispanic invasion of Texas,'” the Times wrote. “Mr. Carlson declared on the air that white supremacy was largely a ‘hoax.'”
On substance, the profile offered nothing more than the routine smear campaign depicting the rival network and its highest-rated host as an on-air fertilizer for white supremacy.
The hysterical coverage of Carlson’s program with no small amount of resources dedicated to the task signals an increasingly desperate effort to protect the ruling class’s self-appointed monopoly on truth. Their narrative no longer references mere facts and figures but encompasses appropriate lifestyles and perspectives.
After spending nearly 20,000 words to raise an alarm on Carlson, the legacy paper of “all the news that’s fit to print” still hasn’t dedicated an inch of column space to Democratic California Rep. Eric Swalwell’s scandalous relationship with a since-vanished Chinese spy. Swalwell still sits on the House Intelligence Committee with access to the nation’s top secrets. Coupled with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new “Disinformation Governance Board,” the paper’s hit pieces on Carlson are just the latest in an escalating effort to cement control of the information sphere.
A good-faith use of resources would have been a serious investment to understand why Carlson is so popular, why the prime-time anchor enjoys such broad appeal to an audience that feels rejected by a ruling class that repeatedly derides them as racist and deplorable. Despite 10 reporters on the case and thousands of dollars spent, not one lay Fox viewer was interviewed for the three-part series to understand why Carlson resonates with the millions of people who watch him rail against his own elite class on a nightly basis.
Nor did the Times’s team engage in any form of media introspection to consider what’s led viewers to Fox News, and Carlson’s program in particular, after failing the public time and time again with made up stories of Russian collusion and explicit interference on behalf of an increasingly radical Democratic Party. Instead, the legacy paper has become infected by its own “you vs. them” victimhood ideology without a hint of self-awareness, fueling the ruling class resentment Carlson has successfully tapped.
Minorities are oppressed merely by the virtue of their identity status, Americans must be opposed to illegal immigration because of racism, and the riot on Jan. 6, 2021 was a violent insurrection by violent right-wing extremists while the social justice protests of 2020 were the “rallies were mostly peaceful.”
The entire series proved one of Carlson’s primary themes, that the ruling class routinely demands political dissidents to “shut up and obey.”