July 14, 2021 Editor

How Tucker Carlson became the voice of White grievance

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By Michael Kranish

July 14, 2021

photo above: patheos.com

WN: What does one do with such elite entitlement; with such endless prevarication; with such premeditated blindness/deafness? In short, with such just plain awfulness?! Mark 8:18 and John 12:38 – 41 in Jesus’ words are pointers to a response:

Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? . . .

So that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”


This account of Carlson’s years-long focus on racial grievance, and his rise to the top of the conservative media ecosystem, is based on a review of his books, broadcasts and writings over nearly three decades, as well as interviews with current and former associates, subjects of his on-air attacks and others who have observed his career.

What emerges is a portrait of an ambitious television personality who came of age in privilege — having grown up in an upper-class enclave and attended private schools — but who, by his own telling, is a victim.

Carlson, in his writings and commentaries, has described resentment toward liberals as far back as the first grade. He has frequently ridiculed the notion that America should celebrate diversity and has lashed out repeatedly at the idea that he, as a White person, bears any responsibility for racism against Black people.

Several people who have interacted with him over the years say they don’t know what he really believes, but they say they are increasingly troubled by his influence as what one of his former mentors described as a “very talented demagogue.”

Two of the leading conservative activists battling critical race theory, an academic construct in which systemic racism is studied, credit him with the rapid rise of their movement, while Black scholars he frequently targets say he mischaracterizes and manipulates their work to suit his agenda.

Night after night, Carlson stokes resentment among his audience of nearly 3 million — which gave him the highest-rated cable news show in the most recent quarter — and the millions more who absorb his viral outbursts on social media. He blasts liberals, throttles Republican leaders whom he sees as insufficiently devoted to battling the “woke” left, and generally sets the parameters for the far-right anti-elitism that defines today’s GOP.

Carlson has used his influence to spread unfounded claims that have been embraced by many Republican leaders. He has echoed Trump’s falsehood that the election was “rigged.” He promoted the baseless notion that FBI agents were behind the storming of the Capitol. And although he has described himself as “pretty pro-vaccine,” Carlson has questioned the efficacy of vaccination against the coronavirus, saying, “maybe it doesn’t work and they’re simply not telling you that” — leading President Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony S. Fauci to rebut his “crazy conspiracy theory.”

But on many nights, it is Carlson’s White grievance that dominates the show.

He has accused Boston University Professor Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to Be an Antiracist,” of promoting racism. He called a top military leader a “pig” for saying he wanted to understand the role racism played in the Capitol attack. And he has said Black people and their White supporters are on a mission to spread “race hate,” devoting many of his segments over the past year to bashing the ideas behind critical race theory.

“He has positioned himself as the presentable face of White grievance,” said Joseph M. Azam, who resigned in late 2017 as a senior vice president of News Corp., which, like Fox, was controlled by the Murdoch family, because he objected to the company’s tolerance for what he felt were Carlson’s hateful views and other commentary. “He’s on mainstream media, he’s dressed in a suit, he speaks in a way that people see as eloquent and informed, and he’s super confident in what he’s saying.”

Carlson did not grant an interview for this story. After The Post posed questions to Fox News last week and requested time with Carlson, a Post reporter received a text message over the weekend from a number listed in a phone records database under Carlson’s name saying, “It’s Tucker Carlson. I’d love to add comment to your piece. Let me know when you have a minute.”

Carlson did not respond to multiple attempts to reach him again. Fox News later sent a written statement from Carlson in which he said: “You want to make me shut up, so you call me a racist. I’ve seen it before.”

Fox News also released a statement to The Post standing by its star: “Tucker Carlson is an important voice in America which deeply resonates with millions of viewers via our powerful primetime lineup and two in-depth shows on FOX Nation — we fully support him.”

Carlson said he just wanted liberals to “stop blubbering and teach us to read. . . . Mrs. Raymond never did teach us; my father had to hire a tutor to get me through phonics.” Thus, Carlson says, he began his sojourn as a conservative thinker, questioning the liberals who he said were all around him, exemplified by his first-grade teacher.

Which is all rather shocking to Marianna Raymond, 77, who remembers Carlson as “very precious and very, very polite and sweet,” and said she had no idea, until contacted recently by a Washington Post reporter, that her former student had ridiculed her as a key to understanding him.

Raymond said in an interview that she never sobbed at her desk, didn’t wear an Indian skirt and didn’t advocate her political views. She said that not only did she teach Carlson reading at La Jolla Country Day School — with a student body that was “very affluent and White” — but that she also was then hired to tutor him at his home.

“Oh my God,” she said, when informed of Carlson’s attack against her. “That is the most embellished, crazy thing I ever heard.”

It happened during a November 1999 exchange with another writer on the website Slate about the prospect of Trump running for president on a Reform Party ticket.

“You’ve said it all: He is the single most repulsive person on the planet. . . . That said, I still plan to write about him some time. I don’t think I’ll be able to help it. Horrible as he is (or perhaps because he is so horrible), Trump is interesting, or at least more so than most candidates.” Carlson wrote that Trump and the Reform Party reflected the fact “that ideology as a force in national elections is dead,” before correcting himself to say, “They’re just a bunch of wackos.”

Sampson, now 82, said in the interview that he never said the words Carlson attributed to him. “No,” Sampson said. “The other side of it is, why didn’t he embrace the words when I said, ‘I love you.’ He would rather solve a problem with violence than to embrace a man who has given his life to teaching nonviolence.”

Sampson also specifically denied Carlson’s contention that he suggested that Carlson, as a White man, had some responsibility for slavery or any other sins. “Not at all. He wasn’t there in the 1800s,” Sampson said. The Carlson television viewers see today, Sampson said, is an extension of the person he encountered in Ghana. Carlson was, and continues to be, “a proponent of detachment from the pain and suffering of our people,” Sampson said.

Over the years, Carlson’s rhetoric about race hardened, and he has ridiculed Sharpton, calling him a “race pimp.” Sharpton said Carlson “changed,” and that he can only wonder if Carlson “hid” his feelings before or is now playing for ratings.

You’ve said it all [Carlson on Trump]: He is the single most repulsive person on the planet. . . . That said, I still plan to write about him some time. I don’t think I’ll be able to help it. Horrible as he is (or perhaps because he is so horrible), Trump is interesting, or at least more so than most candidates.” Carlson wrote that Trump and the Reform Party reflected the fact “that ideology as a force in national elections is dead,” before correcting himself to say, “They’re just a bunch of wackos.”

Carlson also spent many hours around that time cataloguing his grievances, calling in to a shock-jock radio host, Bubba the Love Sponge. Carlson belittled Iraqis as “semiliterate primitive monkeys.” He said that people trying to immigrate to the United States “ought to have something to offer. Be hot, be really smart, you know what I mean?”

Carlson also complained about feminists. “I don’t like the feminist crap,” Carlson said, on a recording later made public by the liberal group Media Matters for America. “I hate that and that’s one of the reasons I despise the Democrats because they’re always rolling that crap out. ‘Well, you don’t like him because he’s Black. You don’t like her because she’s a woman.’ Oh, shut the f— up.”

On one Bubba show, on March 21, 2006, Carlson seemed to foreshadow Trump’s candidacy. He said that Republicans could no longer claim to be the party of fiscal restraint, so the only way a party member could be elected president was to villainize Muslims. “Who’s going to protect the country against, you know, the Muslim lunatics who want to hurt us — is the only thing the Republicans have left.”

Carlson said a successful candidate would have to say, in effect, “Look, I’m a bigot. OK. I’m a bigot. I don’t like Islamic extremists. Like if you are really heavily into Islam — I’m sorry, I just don’t — I don’t care for you that much. And I don’t care what that sounds like, you can call me a racist, you can call me whatever the f— you want.” He said, “I’d vote for you if you said that. And I think that most Americans would.”

A radio co-host then said: “So, basically we need a racist president. ‘We need to get these Mexicans out of here, and the Islam. Let’s kill all the Muslims.’ ”

Carlson responded: “I think that you’re onto something. I mean, not someone who’s like a Klansman or anything, but someone who’s totally unbound by [politically correct] rules, who will just say whatever the hell he wants. . . . That guy is going to get elected.”

In June 2017, Carlson tweeted: “#Tucker: Why does America benefit from having tons of people from failing countries come here? @FoxNews”

Azam, who at the time was a News Corp. senior vice president, decided he could not remain silent. A native of Afghanistan who immigrated to the United States with his refugee family when he was about a year old, he was the embodiment of an immigration success story.

Azam retweeted Carlson’s insult with this comeback: “If you come upstairs to where all the executives who run your company sit and find me I can tell you, Tucker. #Afghanistan.”

Azam said he decided to leave News Corp. about six months later because he could no longer tolerate what he considered the hatred and bigotry from Carlson and other hosts. He has since discussed his initial concerns during a 2019 NPR interview, and now says his worst fears about the impact of Carlson’s rhetoric have been realized.

“I think what Tucker does that is so corrosive is he makes people think that he’s just putting the question out there,” Azam said, adding later: “And that’s a very effective way of communicating with a segment of the population that doesn’t know what to think, but doesn’t want to be told what to think.”

Carlson, who grew up about 30 miles from the Mexican border, also described in his book his own discomfort with how the country was changing.

“If you grew up in America, suddenly nothing looks the same,” he wrote. “Your neighbors are different. So is the landscape and the customs and very often the languages you hear on the street. You may not recognize your hometown. Human beings aren’t wired for that. They can’t digest change at this pace.”

Then Carlson was even more direct. He objected to the idea that “we must celebrate the fact that a nation that was overwhelmingly European, Christian, and English-speaking fifty years ago” is now a mix of cultures.

He rejected the idea that diversity is to be valued, saying that “mass immigration” has destabilized the country. While such views are similar to those expressed by white supremacists, he said it was unfair that expressing them meant “you’ll be shouted down as a bigot, as if demanding representation in a democracy were immoral.”

Carlson went on to attack some of the leading Black authors on the subject in a highly personal way.

Kristol said in an interview that he has long been concerned that Carlson was obsessed with “nativism, the quasi-racism, the mean-spiritedness. The combination of those things, I think it’s just bad. It’s divisive.”

Carlson “always had great ambitions to do TV,” Kristol said. “He always wanted to be famous.” Now he has used that fame, Kristol said, to fan the “flames of resentment and hatred. It’s really kind of close to inciting hatred of other Americans at this point. This is why he is so dangerous, in my opinion. He’s a very talented television personality, and he’s a very talented demagogue.”

Then, after months of seeking to dispute reports about the role of white nationalists in the Jan. 6 insurrection, Carlson made the astonishing claim that “FBI operatives were organizing the attack on the Capitol.” He said this was spelled out in court documents that mentioned the involvement of unindicted co-conspirators, who Carlson surmised were undercover agents from the FBI.

“So it turns out that this ‘white supremacist’ insurrection was, again by the government’s own admission in these documents, organized at least in part by government agents,” Carlson said.

In fact, the government has not admitted any such thing, legal experts said.

Carlson then claimed without evidence that the National Security Agency was reading his electronic communications and leaking them “in an attempt to take this show off the air.” The agency felt compelled to deny that Carlson was an intelligence target and said it “has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air.”

Carlson has aimed a particular level of vitriol at [Ibram X.] Kendi, who won the 2016 National Book Award for “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.” His book “How to Be an Antiracist” urges Americans to actively fight racism, not just declare that they aren’t racist. The book was on a reading list recommended by the U.S. Navy for its sailors.

On his March 9 show, Carlson asked Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), “How could a book like this — really filth — wind up on a naval reading list?” Banks responded that it was “deeply troubling” that the book was recommended, and he promised to question Navy officials.

Carlson did not disclose that his son, Buckley Carlson, is Banks’s press spokesman. A Fox spokeswoman did not respond to a question about whether the network requires disclosure of such a connection.

“Unfortunately, the irony is people like Tucker Carlson are imagining that my work, which expresses the equality of the racial groups, which is advocating for policies that eliminate inequity between the racial groups, is somehow divisive or harmful to Americans or to any racial group,” Kendi told The Post. He said Carlson had stripped his book of its context “to paint anti-racism as anti-White, as white supremacists have been doing for decades. . . . He’s a demagogue, and he’s a propagandist, and he’s feeding on people’s fears and dividing us.”

In normal times, a declaration by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he wanted to understand racism would not be controversial. But to Carlson, it was another opportunity for mockery, if not self-awareness of his own role.

After playing the clip, Carlson laughed at the military leader’s words and said: “He’s not just a pig. He’s stupid!”

Please click on: Tucker Carlson White Grievance

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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

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