Things couldn’t be going better for Tucker Carlson—if by “better” you mean the universe unfolding to reveal his contempt for his audience and his personal and professional corruption. His hyped remix of violent January 6 insurrection footage, aired Monday night, came off like a TikTok for angry boomers, but without any dogs or funny music. It sampled more than 41,000 hours of security footage to reach its preordained conclusion: “Taken as a whole, the video record does not support the claim that January 6th was an insurrection,” Carlson declared. “In fact, it demolishes that claim.”
Of course, it does no such thing.
Carlson’s strangely lifeless montage shows us officers making way for “peaceful, orderly and meek…sightseers,” in his words, who merely wanted to take “cheerful selfies” in the so-called “people’s house.” We see a man straighten some furniture. A pair of fellows calmly examine what might be tourist brochures on a hallway table.
“A small percentage of them were hooligans,” Carlson acknowledges, bent on “vandalism.” Weirdly, he shows quite a lot of footage that depicts violence and mayhem, which he doesn’t try to explain away. The logic seems to be that if everybody didn’t beat up a police officer that day, then no one did? I can’t follow it, but it’s not for me anyway.
The political point is that the allegations of mass violence were trumped up to enable a law enforcement crackdown on those brave souls who protest what he calls “the Uniparty,” the bipartisan borg that controls our evil government. Far from being insurrectionists, the protesters were serving as the bulwark of democracy, trying to prevent a stolen election. The notorious “Q-Anon shaman,” Jacob Chansley? A military veteran so harmless that Capitol police officers acted as his tour guide. And yet he was sentenced to four years in prison, which Carlson depicts as a travesty of justice.
Law enforcement officials immediately howled. “The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video,” said Capitol Police chief Tom Manger. “The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments.” Other news organizations quickly pointed out the evidence, including against Chansley, that Carlson ignored.
Even some Republicans came out against Carlson, most of them in the Senate. North Carolina’s Thom Tillis called the video “bullshit”; Utah’s Mitt Romney termed it “dangerous and disgusting”; South Dakota’s Kevin Cramer dismissed it as “just a lie.” Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell backed Manger: “It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.”
But the real trouble for Tucker, and there’s a lot of it, is that his five-minute, 38-second masterpiece has been bracketed by several news dumps of hundreds of pages of evidence in Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox. While Carlson and his minions worked to edit the video that craven House Speaker Kevin McCarthy exclusively provided to them, we got texts, e-mails and depositions showing that Carlson, along with hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, thought Trump defenders Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani were “insane” and privately didn’t believe claims of election fraud. But once they saw their ratings drop, as their rabid viewers switched over to NewsMax and other competitors, they promoted the lies on their show. A second trove of Dominion documents showed that owner Rupert Murdoch knew the election “was on the up-and-up,” as he said in a deposition. But his network continued to push lies and liars for profit. “It’s not red or blue—it’s green,” he said, a quote that will live in infamy.
Then on Tuesday morning, just after Carlson’s embarrassing January 6 video aired, we got the best set of Dominion evidence yet. In a January 4 text message, Carlson privately blasted Trump’s “disgusting” post-election behavior. “We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.… I hate him passionately.” Murdoch continued to vacillate between honesty about what Trump was doing and concern that exposing the outgoing president’s lies is hurting the “brand.” He called Trump and Rudy Giuliani “increasingly mad. The real danger is what he might do as president.” But as his network got ready to call the election for Joe Biden on November 7, he railed against those making the call. “I hate our Decision Desk people! And pollsters! Some of the same people I think. Just for the hell of it still praying for [Arizona] to prove them wrong!”
Fox’s lawyers continue to insist that Dominion is cherry-picking its evidence—much the way Carlson claims federal prosecutors and Democrats—the same thing, in Fox world—are distorting the January 6 footage. In both cases, they are lying. The evidence is overwhelming and damning.
But will it matter? Will some portion of Fox viewers finally get that they’re being conned for profit, and change the channel? Will more advertisers walk away? Will allegedly truth-telling board members like former House speaker Paul Ryan step in to reprimand the wrongdoers and right the ship? I have no idea.
It does seem clear that Carlson is increasingly making a joke of himself—even inside his own network. During his 6 pm Special Report Tuesday night, Bret Baier ran a segment that focused on the widespread criticism of Carlson’s video, by Republican lawmakers as well as police officers and victims’ family members. It also presented some of the evidence of violence the video ignored. Baier closed the segment by intoning: “To be clear, no one here at Fox News condones any of the violence that happened on January 6.” That’s weak tea: To be fair, Carlson doesn’t condone it either; he just denies that much of it happened. But I’ve never seen Fox’s alleged “news” shows debunk the work of their prime-time stars.
Things are going from bad to worse for Carlson. The contrast between what he tells his audience and what he privately believes is getting starker. There’s something psychologically off about it. The “facts” he peddles are false, but the rage he shows seems real. This to me prompts the question: Whom does Carlson hate more, his audience or himself?
Source : The Nation