May 1, 2022 Wayne Northey

Reflections on: How Tucker Carlson Stoked White Fear to Conquer Cable

American Nationalist: part 1

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April 30, 2022

WN: “Mr. Carlson asked a guest in 2017. ‘Is that bigoted?’ ” Yes, Mr. Carlson: you are a bigot. . . “But if Mr. Carlson has not always been truthful. . .”  Yes, Mr. Carlson, you are a liar. . .

As to the former, on a significantly smaller megaphone, I have a brother who is Carlson’s twin–whom I never knew growing up. It’s a form of grievance being in the world that trades in needing to always have enemies to feel superior over; perhaps even to validate one’s own sense of being. We see that in the men we work with who abuse their partners. In that Mennonite Central Committee BC End Abuse Program known as “Home Improvement,” such are seen to be perpetually self-declared “central, superior, and deserving.

It’s a tragic mode in which to wend one’s way through life. It’s an elitism that politically is gaining traction across the globe. It’s a projected anger onto the Other, the Stranger, the Outcast, where that secondary emotion is informed by an obsessive cesspool of racism, hatred, intolerance, prejudice, xenophobia, and the like; characterized by incessant vituperative diatribes–for any sticking around to listen–lobbed at all the unbelievers. It’s a shame.

I met something not unlike the above but more sophisticated, in a book done as a take-down of my area of work–Restorative Justice: Compulsory Compassion: A Critique of Restorative Justice  by Analise Acorn. You may click on it for my review. I write:

Acorn’s material hardly delivers the fantasized knockout punch to restorative justice.  Her scattered scepticism is like the 17th-century vaunted Vasa in Sweden that sank less than a nautical mile into her maiden voyage.  Its second deck of heavy cannons with the rest was meant to strike terror into the Catholics in the Thirty Years War.  The second deck may have proved instead (one theory) to be (or to have contributed to the) unmitigated folly that sank the top-heavy vessel.  Some of Acorn’s points have some merit as caveats for proponents of restorative justice; few are original, and most with any value have been raised to varying degrees by practitioners themselves.  But when packaged as “canons” (double entendre) of diatribe and dismissal, what little merit there is turns to demerit.  Her overkill like that second deck sadly sinks the enterprise.  Perhaps the best critics are they from within.  (The Bible is its own best critic.  It presents for instance religious hypocrisy and authentic atheism in challenging ways rarely matched by other writers.)  Vaunted Swedish kings’ vessels out to strike terror however beautifully decorated and wannabe critics out to destroy however well-spoken tend toward self-ruin.

To change again the metaphor: there is some wheat amongst the much chaff (and chafing!) of this book.  But the sifting is onerous.  I begrudge having wasted some of my summer camping trip reading the book and writing a review.  The author could have done something worthwhile for the restorative justice movement: she could have offered a balanced, informed critique; she is clearly intelligent enough for the task.  She could also have better worked through her knee-jerk loss of faith.  I conclude in concert with Mr. Byfield [mentioned earlier]: Just think, Ms Acorn, a little harder.

I’ve said that over the years to my brother: Just think a little harder. The first rule is openness to be exposed to other views by those holding them, and not by their caricatures. (In this regard, my brother is profoundly ignorant.) My remonstrance has fallen on deaf ears and years. Sad. It’s like the guy who thought he was dead; who went to the doctor about it; who was given reading material about what dead men do; who the next time in the doctor’s office is asked if dead men bleed; who answered emphatically, No! But when the doctor suddenly jabbed a pin into his finger, and the blood spurted out, the “dead man” exclaimed askance: Dead men do bleed after all!

I offer little hope of change for Carlson and his ilk. I can however wish on them, as on the abusive men we work with, as on Ms. Acorn, as on my brother, discovery of empathy, compassion and concomitant joy. . . Many men we work with find their way, but perhaps are less dug in–most certainly much more aware of the need to change; much more willing to do the hard work of  conversion. . .

As to Trump’s lies that define him, including the weaponized BIG LIE: please click for more on this website here.

Then, as to Trump’s all-time greatness at, well, EVERYTHING!, please read on:

HE IS RISEN

There’s nothing Donald Trump doesn’t do, or hasn’t done, better than anyone else in human history—or so he claims. His latest whopper came in an interview on evangelical network CBN News taped at Mar-a-Lago. “You know, nobody has done more for Christianity, nobody has done more for religion of all types, than me. And they’re really doing things now, to—and I’ve always said it, they are against organized religion, they’re against Christianity,” Trump said. It’s a wild lie that the attention-starved ex-president has brazenly floated before. In 2018, he claimed on the same network, “[N]obody’s done more for Christians or evangelicals or frankly religion than I have.” He came out with the same statement in 2021, on another Christian network, The Victory Channel.

He has also in the past declared “Nobody has ever done for the black community what President Trump has done,” that “nobody” has more respect for women than he does, that he knows “more about courts than any human being on Earth,” that he knows “more about drones than anybody,” knows more about taxes than anyone else “maybe in the history of the world,” and that he’s done more for veterans than the late Sen. John McCain, who, unlike Trump, was actually a veteran.

View this cheat in a browser to see this embedded tweet.

Read it at CBN News

Sigh . . .

excerpts:

In the years since, Mr. Carlson has constructed what may be the most racist show in the history of cable news — and also, by some measures, the most successful. Though he frequently declares himself an enemy of prejudice — “We don’t judge them by group, and we don’t judge them on their race,” Mr. Carlson explained to an interviewer a few weeks before accusing impoverished immigrants of making America dirty — his show teaches loathing and fear. Night after night, hour by hour, Mr. Carlson warns his viewers that they inhabit a civilization under siege — by violent Black Lives Matter protesters in American cities, by diseased migrants from south of the border, by refugees importing alien cultures, and by tech companies and cultural elites who will silence them, or label them racist, if they complain. When refugees from Africa, numbering in the hundreds, began crossing into Texas from Mexico during the Trump administration, he warned that the continent’s high birthrates meant the new arrivals might soon “overwhelm our country and change it completely and forever.” Amid nationwide outrage over George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer, Mr. Carlson dismissed those protesting the killing as “criminal mobs.” Companies like Angie’s List and Papa John’s dropped their ads. The following month, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” became the highest-rated cable news show in history.

We don’t judge them by group, and we don’t judge them on their race.–Tucker Carlson

That pattern is no accident. To a degree not broadly appreciated outside Fox, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” is the apex of a programming and editorial strategy that transformed the network during the Trump era, according to interviews with dozens of current and former Fox executives, producers and journalists. Like the Republican Party itself, Fox has sought to wring rising returns out of a slowly declining audience: the older white conservatives who make up Mr. Trump’s base and much of Fox’s core viewership. To minimize content that might tempt them to change the channel, Fox News has sidelined Trump-averse or left-leaning contributors. It has lost some of its most respected news journalists, most recently Chris Wallace, the longtime host of Fox’s flagship Sunday show. During the same period, according to former employees and journalists there, Fox has leaned harder into stories of illegal immigrants or nonwhite Americans caught in acts of crime or violence, often plucked from local news sites and turbocharged by the channel’s vast digital news operation. Network executives ordered up such coverage so relentlessly during the Trump years that some employees referred to it by a grim nickname: “brown menace.”

For most of his adult life, Mr. Carlson lived and worked in a very different bubble, the cosmopolitan precincts of Washington. His turn to flagrantly racist ideas has baffled and saddened some longtime associates there, spurring a veritable cottage industry of profiles exploring whether Mr. Carlson’s show is merely lucrative theater or an expression of his true values. But a close reading of Mr. Carlson’s decades in television and journalism, and interviews with dozens of friends and former colleagues, show that “Tucker Carlson Tonight” is both.

Almost from the beginning of his career, he has been marching away from the puckish libertarianism of his young adulthood. Increasingly sympathetic to the nativist currents raging through American politics after the Sept. 11 attacks, and twice cast from the heights of cable news stardom, Mr. Carlson ultimately turned on the old conservative intelligentsia, his hometown and many of his friends. His fall and rise trace the transformation of American conservatism itself. When Mr. Trump ran for president and won, thrusting anti-immigration fervor to the heart of American politics, Mr. Carlson finally found his moment. At Fox, he found his platform.

Mr. Carlson says of this ruling class, adding, “They literally don’t care about you, and yet they are still in charge.” He delivers these grim sermons with peppy good cheer and shameless overstatement. On “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” events of the day are further evidence of truths already established; virtually any piece of news can be steered back to the themes of elite corruption, conspiracy and censorship, from gun control to marijuana legalization to paper drinking straws.

Network executives ordered up such coverage so relentlessly during the Trump years that some employees referred to it by a grim nickname: “brown menace.”

When Mr. Carlson’s team requested statistics or original research, it frequently revolved around immigration or race, for instance the respective percentages of Asian-descended and Black people in college. According to one former employee who interacted with Mr. Carlson’s team, the Brain Room would occasionally discover that a story had actually originated farther afield, on a racist or neo-Nazi site like Stormfront. Sometimes the Brain Room suggested that “Tucker Carlson Tonight” look for a different source, and over the years, the researchers there heard less and less from Mr. Carlson’s team. “They weren’t digging,” the former Fox employee said. “They were looking for outrageous stories to outrage their audiences.”

Accuracy isn’t the point on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” On the air, Mr. Carlson piles up narrative-confirming falsehoods and misleading statements so rapidly — about George Floyd’s death, white supremacists who took part in the Jan. 6 riot, falling testosterone levels in men, Covid vaccines, the Texas power grid and more — that The Washington Post’s media critic, Erik Wemple, has made a sideline of cataloging them. Though Mr. Carlson claims his show to be “the sworn enemy of lying,” Fox’s lawyers acknowledged in 2020, in a lawsuit accusing the host of slander, that “spirited debate on talk-show programs does not lend itself well to statements of actual fact.”

. . . virtually any piece of news can be steered back to the themes of elite corruption, conspiracy and censorship, from gun control to marijuana legalization to paper drinking straws.

But if Mr. Carlson has not always been truthful, he has been remarkably consistent. Almost from the beginning, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” has presented a dominant narrative, recasting American racism to present white Americans as an oppressed caste. The ruling class uses fentanyl and other opioids to addict and kill legacy Americans, anti-white racism to cast them as bigots, feminism to degrade their self-esteem, immigration to erode their political power. Republican elites, however improbably, help to import the voters Democrats require at the ballot box. The United States, Mr. Carlson tells his viewers, is “ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule.”

Seemingly every social ill is laid at the feet of immigrants and refugees — not just working-class unemployment, but rising home prices, out-of-wedlock births among native-born Americans, even the supposedly sorry state of his favorite Beltway fishing spots. With pastoral care, Mr. Carlson reassures his viewers. “It’s OK for you to say: ‘What is this?’ and ‘Maybe I don’t want to live in a country that looks nothing like the country I grew up in,’” Mr. Carlson told a guest in 2017. “Is that bigoted?”

In fact, according to Maine’s Labor Department, Lewiston’s unemployment rate has generally tracked that of the rest of the state, and the city has experienced neither a significant drop nor a surge in economic growth since the first Somalis arrived. And economists broadly reject Mr. Carlson’s central argument that immigration to the United States “drives down wages for low-skilled workers nationwide,” as he said in a 2019 segment. As one review of the relevant literature put it, “Decades of research have provided little support for the claim that immigrants depress wages by competing with native workers.” Immigrants compete for jobs but also help generate new ones, not only by raising demand for goods and services but also by helping fill out workplaces as they expand to hire native-born workers with different skills. While some studies have found that earlier waves of low-skill immigration may have had short-term impacts on the wages of one relatively small group — high school dropouts — other studies have found “small to zero effects,” as a landmark analysis by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine stated in 2017.

But as televised theater, the formula works. Mr. Carlson reliably draws more than three million viewers. When he defended the idea of demographic “replacement” on a different Fox show in April, the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, called for his firing, noting that the same concept had helped fuel a string of terrorist attacks, including the 2018 mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. But when Mr. Carlson ran a clip of his comments on his own prime-time show a few days later, according to Nielsen data, the segment got 14 percent more viewers in the advertiser-sweet “demo” of 24- to 54-year-olds than Mr. Carlson’s average for the year.

Decades of research have provided little support for the claim that immigrants depress wages by competing with native workers.review of the relevant literature

Every cable network cares about ratings, but none more so than Fox, whose post-Ailes slogan stresses neither fairness nor balance but sheer audience dominance: “Most Watched, Most Trusted.” And at Fox, according to former employees, no host scrutinizes his ratings more closely than Mr. Carlson. He learned how to succeed on television, in part, by failing there.
A few days later, hijackers flew two planes into the twin towers. Anti-Muslim hate crimes skyrocketed, and millions of Americans turned sharply against immigration. On CNN, Mr. Carlson took up their cause. “Are they racists? No,” he said. “They understand a basic truth: that the 19 hijackers who came here and destroyed the World Trade Centers, hit the Pentagon, came here because they were able to, because it’s easy, because we have virtually no control at the border.” One of his guests that day was Mr. Stein, the FAIR [Federation for American Immigration Reform] official, now welcomed as an important voice in an increasingly urgent debate.

“We didn’t take our lands from Mexico,” said Henry Miller’s great-great-great-grandson, adding: “This is our country. That is their country.”

Illegal immigration, he now insisted, was not merely a political or economic matter, but a civilizational threat. He defended billboards in California that read “Stop the Invasion, Secure Our Borders.” (“It’s an invasion,” he said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with saying so.”) In the spring and summer of 2006, as Mr. Bush tried to revive his plan to offer legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, Mr. Carlson inveighed against it. “You’re talking about completely changing the nature of the country,” he claimed.

Trump’s false or misleading claims total 30,573 over 4 years. A fish does not know the environment it swims in. . .

He pounded out a piece for Politico, the Beltway-insider bible, pausing occasionally to read passages to his wife. “It seemed obvious that Trump could win the nomination and be president,” Mr. Carlson later explained. “I wanted to predict that in print before it happened.” He excoriated the Republican elite — the lobbyists and think-tank experts and congressional leaders, his neighbors and onetime friends — for betraying the party’s voters. Friends and colleagues would come to think of the essay as Mr. Carlson’s personal declaration of war on the conservative establishment that had long nurtured him, and where his father had built a second career. “They’re the ones who’ve been advocating for open borders, and nation-building in countries whose populations hate us, and trade deals that eliminated jobs while enriching their donors,” he wrote. Mr. Trump was loved because he told the truth, Mr. Carlson wrote, and he could win because no one else did.

Please click on: How Tucker Carlson Stoked White Fear

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