May you live in interesting times, often cited and attributed to the Chinese. Well, it is an interesting aphorism but not of Chinese origin. In fact, it’s something Neville Chamberlin’s father, Joseph, said in a speech he gave in 1898,
“I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me also say, new objects for anxiety.”
Tucker’s Fall From Grace:
Regardless of the phrase’s origin, the point is simple: in 2023, we are indeed living in interesting times. A person such as Tucker Carlson has become a focal point for some of the turbulent conditions within the political and domestic landscape.
I know, the mere mention of Tucker Carlson is enough to elicit a rash of epithets that a drunken sailor would praise and admire. Then there are the higher-ups over at Fox, who probably utter curses and unholy demonic utterances at the mere mention of his name.
His actions are why Fox News Corp agreed to the $787.5 million settlement with Dominion. Payments of this size and nature have a cascading impact throughout the company, often resulting in layoffs, delays in raises, bonuses, and draconian budget cuts because the money has to come from somewhere.
Priming the pump of discord with his wild assertations, accusations, and proclamations that President Biden and Democrats are succubi and incubi hell-bent on taking away the freedoms outlined in our Constitution. He claims the Biden administration is evil and the Democrats are democracy deniers and want to turn the country into some third-world cesspool with open borders and crazy racially motivated governing theories, like critical race theory or diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Ever excessively railing against the Biden administration. Claiming the Democrat’s agenda would harm the country and deprive people of their freedom of speech, religion, and everything that makes this a great nation. Tucker seems to have an issue with the representative government under our current president. So his overall monologue would consist of outlandish comments and examples that would leave one with the idea that he favored eliminating democracy. Perhaps leaning toward a form of governance that would be more authoritative in form and function.
Tucker would set the tone and tenor for his fellow democracy haters, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham continued the Biden and Democrat bashing. Bringing on guest after guest who supported their misguided views of democracy, essentially advocating for a more authoritarian form of governance.
Hannity and Ingraham taking their cues from Tucker would continue with the Biden bashing, the complaining of the lack of law and order under Biden, and of course, the never-ending troupes on immigration and how Democrats are destroying the country with DEI and Critical Race Theory claptrap. How the country would be so much better with a Republican in the White House and Republicans in control of the House and Senate. Tucker would lead off with an outlandish monologue, and like good little minions, they would follow.
Then it all came crashing down when Rupert Murdoch and the Fox News Corp board decided to settle because of an email Tucker had written about wanting Three white men to kill a member of Antifa. Tucker was shown the door. But Tucker wouldn’t be silenced. He decided to take his show to Elon Musk’s Twitter.
You would think after costing the company three-quarters of a billion dollars, Tucker would have a sense of remorse, take a step back and consider his actions before moving forward. But it seems individuals like Carlson see taking responsibility for their mistakes as something only for the weak.
He continues with his same bluster but without the ambiance of a professional-looking and produced show. Fox showed up at his home in Maine and removed all their equipment from the rooters to the tooters, not leaving so much as a paperclip. If you look closely at the Twitter feed, his MacGyvered studio looks as if he is broadcasting from his living room.
You have to wonder how much longer he will be able to continue since he was served with a cease-and-desist order from Fox’s legal department, telling him his arrangement with Musk violates the terms of his contract, which is still in force until the end of 2025.
Tucker is known for poking the bear, but you have to wonder if he is willing to give up a $25 million salary and incur hefty legal fees to continue to defy Fox by hosting his show on Twitter.
Is It Racism, Bigotry, Or Both?
Calling someone a racist or bigot appears to be the same but is different in meaning and connotation. We need to understand race is a social construct. For the simple reason we’re all part of the human race. This idea that one race is superior to another is complete nonsense.
Racism is based on the falsity of the belief one’s lighter melanin makes them exceptional. The justification for slavery and exploitation was based on the concept of ‘whiteness was rightness’ and religious beliefs those of dark skin were cursed by God. In their minds, they provided the balm they needed for the inhuman treatment of what is known as chattel enslavement. Simply put, racism is a false belief if you’re white, you are automatically superior to any person who isn’t white.
Bigotry is racism’s first cousin, but a bit more nuanced. It deals more with intolerance than racial constructs, although there could be some aspects of racism associated with their bigoted views. Whether Tucker is a racist or bigot is not necessarily the central point of interest here. I would agree if there was absolute proof of abject racism or bigotry, it might simplify matters. But taking that position would result in our overlooking a significant facet of what I believe to be Carlson’s true motivation.
What Truly Motivates Tucker?
Let’s consider Angelou’s admonishment, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
When Tucker was a second-year student at the elite prep school St. George’s in Rhode Island, attending the mandatory chapel service, senior prefect Richard Wayner told how an elderly Black woman, Elenor Bumpurs, was killed by the NYPD ESU team who had broken into her apartment to evict her.
Wayner concluded the account of the event by asking: ““Does anyone think that woman deserved to die?” One lone hand went up in affirmation to the question. It was Tucker Carlson’s hand. Even at the young age of fourteen, Carlson was willing to take a contrarian point of view. Mahlon Stewart, a classmate, said the following about Carlson:
“he was always eager to take the less palpable side of the argument and argue that side . . . back then it was comedic. I thought it was an act.”
Tucker’s seeming willingness to argue the opposite side was further supported by Keller Kimbrough, a classmate who said, “his confidence was so amazing. He could just put out some positions and be willing to argue anything, no matter how outlandish.”
Arron Short, the Business Insider writer doing the story on Tucker, asked Wayner if he believed Tucker thought Bumburs deserved to die. Wayner, who has remained friends with Tucker, said, “As a 9th or 10th grader in a chapel full of people in a conversation, he was trying to get attention.”
In 1984, Carlson was willing to take controversial positions on any topic. Raising his hand in the affirmative to the question if Bumburs deserved to die would, for many, be all the proof they need to conclude he was racist. But really. Was he manifesting racist or bigoted behavior, or was he being that smartass second-year student who believes they can effectively take the controversial side of any argument and win with their verbal dexterity?
When People Tell You Who They Are:
People love the Maya Angelou quote, ‘When people tell you who they are, believe them the first time.’ It is interesting how people reference it when they observe the actions of people they know and offer commentary with subtle or not-so-subtle references to the quote.
With Tucker, we have an early insight into who he is and why he acts in the manner he does. His contrarianism has become his strength, weakness, and a tell.
But, we need to pay attention to the meaning and application of Angelou’s statement with someone like Carlson, who is deliberate in his contrarianism and takes positions he knows most people will make erroneous conclusions or take out of context.
There are other times when Tucker will do and say some things that are just damn stupid, like broadcasting his show from Hungary embracing Victor Orbán authoritative governing style and seemingly supporting the abdication of democracy and replacing it with a form of autocratic rule in the United States based on Orbán’s concept of illiberal democracy.
Tucker is known for his perchance for hyperbolic speech to such a level it was his savior in a defamation lawsuit that he won in 2020, where Karen McDougal (yes, the one that had an affair with Trump) sued Tucker for what she believed was defamation The Judge said the following:
“Fox persuasively argues that given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer ‘arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statement he makes.”
Another way of looking at it is Tucker is full of it. So, we are left with the question, what got Tucker fired, racism, bigotry, opportunism, or just plain stupidity?
Well, I have to say his ego. Tucker is part of the white male elites who think they’re the most intelligent people in the room. According to his classmates in prep school and college, Tucker always took the contrarian side of the argument. Often winning these debates and discussions inflated his ego, giving him a sense of superiority.
Carlson’s ego, smugness, and overall belief most people aren’t as smart as he is, provided him with the bravado to demand that Kenji Brown Jackson, who graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude (High Honors), and Harvard Law, cum laude (Honors) produce her LSATS scores. Why? So he could pass judgment she was qualified to sit on the Supreme Court? That was a bold demand considering he graduated from Trinity College a year late with a 2.1 GPA, which, according to someone who has seen his grades, was rounded up.
Think about this for a moment. Tucker, who barely graduated, demands to see someone who graduated with high honors and honors demanded, to see Jackson’s LSAT scores?
Some would say that was a bold move on Tucker’s part. It was damn insulting and stupid. But stupidity is part of Tucker’s shtick.
Racism, Bigotry, Opportunism, or Just Plain Stupidity?
To answer the question I posited around Tucker Carlson, allow me to once again quote a British politician, Winston Churchill, who said the following regarding a question on Russia.
“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”
I’m not saying Carlson is a riddle, a mystery, or an enigma. Such a comparison would give him far too much credit. He’s not that complicated.
While Tucker was at Fox News, he developed a way to reach the Fox audience with his combative and contrarian style. Just as he did in prep school and college, taking the contrarian position of the discussion, presenting and offering points of view that would typically fall apart. But his ability to present outlandish arguments that seem plausible got him by, and he became a star with his audience.
Tucker could have been an arbiter of truth but instead decided to continue being a sophomoric jerk spouting hyperbole as if it were the truth. Why? Simple. The more he pushed nonsense around nonsensical theories sprinkled with morsel-like ideas around replacement theory or reasons to fear books that talk about race. Or that will agitate his audience into thinking an autocratic form of governance is better than the representative democracy we have. The more people would watch. And the more people watching Fox News, the more ads they could sell, and the bigger his salary and ratings grew.
For Tucker Carlson, it was never about imparting the truth. His high school friend Richard Wayner relayed to the Business Insider reporter, “He saw Tucker making the pragmatic decision to follow a business model that made his conservative media counterparts a lot of money.”
What got Tucker fired wasn’t racism, bigotry, or stupidity. It was his opportunistic mindset focused on making him a lot of money. What got Tucker fired was nothing more than unmitigated greed!