A serious argument can be made that Tucker Carlson is the most dangerous man in America. The Fox News commentator is smart, articulate and somewhat self aware, yet uses his considerable talents to shill for the most disastrous president in US history. Night in night out, Carlson goes to bat for the president by doing everything in his power to smear the left and accuse it of “Trump hysteria”. There is no Russia collusion scandal, there is no global warming, the real bigots are leftist college students, and the most oppressed people are white males like himself.
Carlson’s favorite line before defending Trump is that he’s “not defending Trump” — a debating tactic he uses to maintain intellectual credibility while defending something completely indefensible. Carlson uses his allotted hour on Fox to bring in fringe leftists, usually college professors or activists, with little media training or debating skill. Carlson’s team researches them thoroughly and finds something they’ve said that makes them appear to be hypocritical, and Carlson brandishes the incriminating evidence after a painfully obvious set up. Carlson’s speciality is the straw man argument where he accuses his guest of making an argument they clearly are not, then proceeds to argue against it anyway. The Washington Post did an excellent breakdown of Carlson’s insidious little tactic:
Again and again, the host returns to a formula in which he blasts away at someone who’s more often than not a left-leaning figure of marginal name recognition. There’s generally something quite specific that Carlson and his crew have identified about these guests. Perhaps one of them, in their view, overreached in characterizing the federal response to the disaster in Puerto Rico; perhaps one of them, in their view, wasn’t sufficiently critical of a Latino gang; perhaps one of them, in their view, merely wrote something stupid. With these nits in hand, Carlson proceeds to build entire segments around the shortcomings of these folks, who are commonly critics of the Trump administration.
Carlson applies this formula over and over and over again, knowing his audience of racist, Alt Right bros love nothing more than watching him bash up unsuspecting liberals and slam immigrants. Carlson understands television and he understands why Fox News hired him during the Trump administration. He provides intellectual cover that isn’t quite as outwardly stupid as Sean Hannity’s incessant propaganda, and it works. Carlson claims that he isn’t really interested in Trump and doesn’t go out of his way to cover him.
“Let me say generally that we don’t talk about Trump,” Carlson told the Erik Wemple in the Post. “Or I try not to talk about Trump very much at all, both because I think Trump is over-covered, but also because I think a lot of the debates that we’re having, the meaningful ones, aren’t about Trump at all.”
It isn’t clear what planet Carlson is living on, but it’s certainly not the one we are all inhabiting where the orange blowhard is laying waste to everything around him and upending centuries of political norms in order to “Make America Great Again”. But no, nothing to see here. Nothing at all.
It is somewhat surprising then that Carlson chose to turn on Trump this week over his acquiescence to the Democrats on protecting young undocumented immigrants, (otherwise known as “Dreamers”). On his show last night he said:
Congress is full of people from both parties who believe that the point of our immigration policy is to provide cheap labor to their donors and to atone for America’s imaginary sins against the world.
They couldn’t care less about immigration’s effect on you or your family. Yet these are the same people the president now says he trusts to write the immigration bill, the one he will sign no matter what it says. So what was the point of running for president?
Never mind the fact that Trump has sold out his supporters on the economy, jobs, trade deals and health care — as soon as he relents on his vicious anti-immigration policy, Carlson is up in arms. After ignoring literally all of the horrors we’ve had to endure this past year, Carlson is turning on the president over protecting brown children.
Carlson knows exactly what he is doing here, and this is why he is such a dangerous figure in the media. After Trump won his very public battle with former ally Steve Bannon, Carlson is worried that the Alt-Right movement won’t be able to achieve its main aim. Carlson views Trump and the Breitbart mob as useful idiots who have an opportunity to do what every white male conservative in America has long wanted to do — round up non-white immigrants and send the home. Carlson’s nasty views on immigration have gotten more pronounced in recent times, and he barely disguises his appalling xenophobia:
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) January 10, 2018
It seemingly hasn’t occurred to Carlson that America was built on illegal immigration. His white ancestors weren’t invited here by Native Americans and they certainly didn’t consult indigenous people about the government they decided to build. Also, where are these illegal immigrants voting for dastardly liberals? Are they the same 3-5 million “illegals” Trump claimed gave Hillary Clinton the huge popular vote win over him in the election? The same 3-5 million people who don’t exist? Carlson is a master at riling up his audience and painting a picture of a country that has nothing to do with reality. After all, this is a man who purports to believe that Donald Trump’s disastrous presidency isn’t big news or worth covering. And hence why he may well be the most dangerous man in America.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.