“I have worked in English language media even longer than Carlson has, and I “understand” nothing like the totalizing constraints he describes, nor would a significant percentage of the people I have worked with. The editorial direction (not quite a set of “limits”) at an opinion magazine such as Reason, for example, tends to be tethered to a political/ideological/philosophical point of view, with content mutually understood by employer and employee alike to fit within a publicly stated organizational mission, and yet, I have for two decades felt perfectly free to explore out loud some of my least libertarian notions (including one, ironically enough, that was influenced directly by Tucker Carlson).
Reason may be on the tolerant extreme of the open-debate spectrum, but I was similarly untroubled by the specter of editorial no-fly zones at the Los Angeles Times, a newspaper that hired me after I had written a series of “Outside the Tent” columns criticizing…the Los Angeles Times. (That institutional courage to solicit internal criticism was not shared by Carlson at his own The Daily Caller: Blogger Mickey Kaus resigned from the conservative publication in 2015 after a post of his critical of Fox News was deleted on the grounds that, in Carlson’s words, as quoted by Kaus: “We can’t trash Fox on the site. I work there.”)
As the Caller example indicates, the “rule of what you can’t say” is often self-imposed, for reasons that can have more to do with narrow careerism than some broader globalist plot. As such, breaking free from presumed shackles is often as easy as just blurting out the allegedly verboten thing—not unlike Tucker Carlson’s often interesting, often exasperating television program these past seven years.
But the populist trick and conceit, one that Carlson is already ratcheting up in his new Twitter phase, is to not merely say the forbidden truth but to do so while, improbably enough, claiming that you cannot do so.”
“Thirty years ago, the main conservative critique of the mainstream media was that it was biased. Twenty or so years ago, bias had escalated into pursuing an active agenda. Now, that agenda has managed to become an all-encompassing yet secretive transpartisan snow job.
“The undeniably big topics, the ones that will define our future, get virtually no discussion at all,” Carlson postulated in his first Twitter video after being fired. “War, civil liberties, emerging science, demographic change, corporate power, natural resources. When was the last time you heard a legitimate debate about any of those issues? It’s been a long time. Debates like that are not permitted in American media. Both political parties, and their donors, have reached consensus about what benefits them, and they actively collude to shut down any conversation about it. Suddenly the United States looks very much like a one-party state.”
This seems like a good place to point out that the May issue of Reason includes debates about war, civil liberties, emerging science, demographic change, and so forth. And I’m guessing that anyone who truly believes there are no meaningful differences between the two main political parties in the U.S. did not have children attending public school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carlson’s fans, including some (masochistic?) libertarians, surely do not care that his hyperbole crosses so frequently into fantasia; what matters is that he (again, like Trump) has the right enemies—the media, the wokes, the Pentagon, Big Pharma. If the journalism profession is going to go on a “moral clarity” bender of ever-escalating pejoratives for conservatives, aggressive “deplatforming” even of elected Republicans, and enthusiastic collusion with the censorious state, what’s wrong with a little overstatement from a commentator who rightly pushes back?
Well, once you start taking seriously the idea that some puppet master or single-minded Borg is inflicting intentional wickedness on Everyman for personal profit, then all intellectual bets are off. Conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat offered this ideological shorthand soon after Carlson was fired: “For any idea with an establishment imprimatur, absolute suspicion; for any outsider or skeptic, sympathy and trust. It didn’t have to be political or contemporary, either. The U.F.O. mystery? He was there for it. The Kennedy assassination and the C.I.A.? He had questions.”
Carlson these days is frequently going there, whether in sympathetic interviews with the similarly conspiratorial Robert Kennedy Jr., or just musing aloud about Building 7, all while striking the classic populist pose of betraying his class interest by spilling the insidery beans.”
“Controlling the population is the media’s “only purpose,” Carlson continued. “They’re not here to inform you….Even on the big things that really matter, like the economy and the war and COVID, things that really matter and will affect you—no, their job is not to inform you. They’re working for the small group of people who actually run the world. They’re their servants, they’re the Praetorian Guard. And we should treat them with maximum contempt, because they have earned it.”
Carlson may not want to control the population, but what he offers as a replacement sounds a lot like passive consumption of a commiserative message…from Tucker Carlson. “Where can you still find Americans saying true things?” he asked in his first post-show Twitter video. “There aren’t many places left, but there are some, and that’s enough. As long as you can hear the words, there is hope.”
And now, having earned scores of millions of dollars from corporate media, Carlson is ready to burn it all down from the outside.
“The gatekeepers are still in charge,” he lamented in his video Tuesday. “We think that’s a bad system. We know exactly how it works, and we’re sick of it….There aren’t many platforms left that allow free speech. The last big one remaining in the world, the only one, is Twitter.””
“The embarrassment angle is the easiest to dismiss: Remember all those headlines, generated by damning admissions and documents from the likes of Tucker Carlson and Rupert Murdoch, that showed how Fox’s on-air talent and their managers knew they were peddling untruths to their audience about the supposed 2020 election fraud? You probably read those because you consume Actual News. (And, let’s be clear: If you’d thought about this at all, you weren’t surprised to see the deep cynicism that powers Fox spelled out in writing.)
But on Fox, the lawsuit was barely covered at all, and Fox’s media correspondent even said he was prevented from reporting on it. That’s not surprising, given the channel’s consistent commitment to presenting alternative facts, a practice which long predated the Trump era.
You may recall that in an effort to stave off lawsuits like the one Dominion filed, Fox grudgingly offered some non-apology clarifications in late 2020, then went right back to making things up. A few months later, they were providing cover for the January 6 rioters.”
“Yes, the $787.5 million settlement is much less than the $1.6 billion the company initially asked for in damages. But it is a giant windfall for the small company and its private equity owners. It would be crazy not to take a deal like that, and let media critics worry about what happens to Fox.
And yes, $787.5 million is a lot of money, even for a big company like Fox: It represents about 20 percent of Fox’s $4 billion in cash, which means it could impact Fox’s ability to buy things or pay out dividends to its shareholders. On the other hand, Fox posted profits of $321 million in the last three months of 2022, which means it can build back up its cash pile pretty quickly.
That seems to be Wall Street’s take: 21st Century Fox stock opened down a few points the day after the settlement was announced, but as of this writing it has almost completely rebounded; the company remains worth about $17.5 billion.
In other words: Even after Fox agreed to pay nearly $788 million in a settlement (on top of the legal fees it has already spent), investors have decided the payout will have no impact on Fox’s operations.”
“The most plausible threat to Fox News is the same threat facing every TV network in 2023: that its viewership erodes as TV viewers migrate to the internet. But Fox’s viewers, like other cable TV news operations, skew old, and that means they’re the ones least likely to give up their cable boxes. They’re also incredibly loyal, which is why Fox can charge cable TV operators — who pass the fees on to you, if you’re paying for cable TV — more money than anyone else in TV, with the exception of sports.
So until that audience, along with the revenue and clout it generates for its owner, dwindles, don’t expect Fox to budge at all.”
“in principle, a Trump interview was a good idea because it’s never a mistake for the press to confront newsmakers, even if the newsmaker lies about the integrity of the 2020 election, which Trump did. Even if he mocks the justice system because it has held against him, which Trump did. Even if he uses the rhetorical devises of ad hominem, ad populum, ad baculum to savage his foes, as Trump did. Even if he insults the interviewer, which Trump did (“You’re a nasty person,” he said to Collins). Even if he refuses to answer simple questions about his stand on abortion, which Trump repeatedly did. And even if he offers his self-serving hallucinations about the events of January 6 as the truth, which Trump did.”
“Trump, after all, leads the Republican presidential polls by a wide margin. A genuine news outlet can’t avert its eyes during a campaign just because a candidate is malevolent, duplicitous, cruel and deceitful.”
“the core violation here is, basically, that the Trump Organization logged hush money repayments improperly. The more small-scale charges like this after a long investigation seem, the more they suggest prosecutors landed on them because they tried to make a bigger case that didn’t pan out.
Does it resemble previous prosecutions? In some ways yes, in some ways no. Business records charges are common in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The New York Times called this charge “the bread and butter” of the office’s white-collar practice, pointing out that during Bragg’s tenure of a little over a year, 29 individuals and companies were charged with such offenses before Trump. “The charge of creating false financial records is constantly brought,” Agnifilo and Eisen write.
Still, there is some dispute about how the charge is being applied in this case. Fordham law professor Jed Shugerman points out that these false records were just internal company documents, and that Bragg has not yet specifically alleged they were used to deceive anyone. Shugerman asked whether there’s ever been a conviction in such a case. Various former prosecutors in the Manhattan DA’s office have argued that they can and did file such charges based on internal documents, but it’s unclear whether the legality of that theory has been directly tested in court.”
“he lied. I want to be clear about what I mean by that. He knew what he was saying was not true. He took judgements from the intelligence community that were very uncertain, judgements that we put out there with very clear caveats — “we believe Iraq is continuing its nuclear program, but we have a low degree of certainty, blah blah blah” — he would just come out and state those things as fact. He did this over and over again. Just like Cheney saying that Mohamed Atta met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague, as a fact. When the truth was, there was a great deal of doubt about it. It was our job at CIA to stand fast, to keep those ridiculous notions under control. And we tried. But there was only so much we could do. The White House wanted a justification for the invasion.”
” “people say that Bush was looking to justify the invasion of Iraq. He wasn’t. What he was looking for is something different — selling points. The decision to invade had already been made, and there was not any intelligence that was going to change their opinion. So this was not an effort to justify the war. It was an effort to sell the war publicly. That’s an important distinction. The Bush administration was very explicit about their Iraq obsession almost immediately when they took power. ”
” When nobody knows what the president or vice president knew, or when they knew it, you get a situation where Bush can stand up and say, “Well, there were no WMDs, but we were given false information.” OK, no you weren’t. The trench view is no you weren’t. You demanded faulty intelligence, because you wanted only intelligence that was going to support this big extravaganza of invasion of Iraq, and you got it.”
” “President Trump was wrong,” Pence said during remarks at the annual white-tie Gridiron Dinner attended by politicians and journalists. “I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable.””
““We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.”
“I hate him passionately.”
“We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest. But come on. There isn’t really an upside to Trump.”
Tucker Carlson sent all those texts — newly revealed as exhibits in the lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox — on January 4, 2021. (Through the discovery process, many Fox internal emails and documents were provided to Dominion, and the company’s attorneys have made them public by citing them in legal filings.)
Yet Carlson devoted his shows this week to a revisionist history of the attacks on the Capitol two days afterward, omitting Trump’s then-ongoing attempt to steal the election, portraying concerns about a stolen election as reasonable and even vindicated, and minimizing the violence that took place.
But to understand what’s going on here, it’s worth taking a closer look at the bigger narrative Carlson was trying to push this week.
The story of January 6, in Carlson’s extremely selective and misleading telling to his viewers, isn’t about how a mob whipped up by the president of the United States tried to prevent the transfer of power, or how that president tried to steal the election. It’s about how Democrats and the media were mean to Trump supporters.
The story is also about how he, Tucker Carlson, would never do something like that. He loves you, Trump supporters. He respects you. Pay no attention to those texts behind the curtain about how he disdains and disbelieves Donald Trump. He is your loyal champion against your enemies. So please — don’t change the channel.”