Sunday night’s broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards produced one of the most stirring speeches ever delivered at such an affair. As the Cecil B. DeMille Award winner for lifetime achievement, Meryl Streep was clearly disturbed by the crudeness and vulgarity of President-Elect Donald Trump. She devoted most of her acceptance speech to chastising The Donald for mocking a disabled reporter. And she defended American citizens in the arts who speak out on important issues.
That speech set up Fox News to launch a full court press against one of their favorite targets: Hollywood. And it began early in the morning on Fox & Friends with special guest, Tucker Carlson. Carlson’s appearance was surely scheduled, at least in part, to promote his brand new primetime program “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” The segment kicked off with clips from Streep’s speech, including her opening line:
“All of us in this room belong to the most vilified segment in American society right now. Think about it. Hollywood, foreigners, and the press.”
The truth of that cannot be denied by anyone with an honest perspective. Conservatives have had an insatiable Hollywood bashing obsession for decades. Likewise, foreigners have been a convenient target to blame for every social problem for which conservatives have no solution. Trump has elevated xenophobia to new heights of hatefulness. And the press, never particularly well-liked, has taken more heat in the past eighteen months than ever.
While Streep’s opening line was true, it was intended as joke and it got the laugh that she expected. However, Carlson took it as some sort of high-minded social philosophy that deserved critical analysis. He told his pals on Fox that:
“Here you have a rich and entitled person describing herself as an outsider, an outcast, a pariah. […] What I was so struck by is she was telling a crowd exactly what they wanted to hear. She was saying things that are totally uncontroversial within the context she was speaking. That’s the least courageous thing you can do.”
First of all, Streep never cast herself as an outcast. That was Carlson’s way of preemptively dismissing everything she had to say. But more troubling is his criticism of Streep for allegedly pandering to her Hollywood audience. He was “annoyed” at her lack of courage for saying exactly what her audience wanted to hear.
Really? That is what Fox News does all day, every day. It is a 24/7 pandering operation for right-wing propaganda. Where is the courage in that? And Carlson himself is the perfect symbol for Fox’s partisan fawning. He just replaced Megyn Kelly, who while affirmatively conservative, has had differences with Trump. Now the entire Fox News primetime lineup is composed of Trump fluffers and friends.
As for the “rich and entitled,” Carlson could be their mascot. Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson was born into wealth in the heartland city of San Francisco, California. He is the son of a television executive who later became ambassador to the Seychelles. Now he splits his time as a TV pundit between New York City and Washington, D.C. When you drain the swamp, what you’ll find is scads of slimy Tucker Carlsons flopping around in the muck.
Carlson is so in touch with mainstream America that he recently confessed that he doesn’t even watch movies. In an interview with TheWrap he said “Who watches movies? Who would? Not me. I wouldn’t cross the street to watch a movie for free.” That comment came following his rebuke of the industry that he thinks is “crumbling.” In fact, the film business is enjoying record profits. Last year box office earnings exceeded 11.3 billion dollars.
Not to be outdone, Trump also commented on Streep’s remarks. True to form, he descended into his typically childish taunting. He tweeted:
So one of the most admired and honored actors of this, or any, generation is “over-rated” in Trump’s feeble mind. [Update: In 2015 Trump was asked about his favorite actors and said “Meryl Streep is excellent; she’s a fine person, too.”] And he’s aghast that she would have an opinion of him without knowing him. But he doesn’t hesitate to express his utterly ignorant opinion of her. Of course, he is suggesting that nobody, not any citizen, has a legitimate right to criticize him without having some kind of personal relationship. That’s a bastardization of democracy. For comparison, here is what Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest had to say about Streep’s speech:
“Meryl Streep delivered a thoughtful, carefully considered message. It seemed to me to be a fairly straightforward exercise of her First Amendment rights as a citizen of the United States.”
That’s the statement of a statesman. It’s also precisely the opposite of the attitude that Carlson projects. To him the only people who are permitted to hold and share opinions are those with whom he agrees. Ill-informed Tea Party crackpots can say whatever they want about President Obama. And celebrities like Clint Eastwood and Ted Nugent are considered virtual Rhodes Scholars. But artists who speak their minds outside of the right-wing echo chamber are condemned for their impudence. Worst of all, wealthy, trust-fund babies like Carlson get primetime shows on Fox News where they lambaste the rich and entitled.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.