Following a week where Jane Mayer’s exhaustive New Yorker essay exposing how Fox News has transformed from a Republican mouthpiece into the propaganda arm of Donald Trump’s White House, the network is undergoing additional hardship due to its own embrace of doctrinaire hate speech.
The primetime White Nationalist Hour of Tucker Carlson has long been a haven for bigotry dispensed by the most smugly arrogant blowhard on television. Carlson has the distinction of having been fired from three TV networks (PBS, CNN, and MSNBC). However, when he landed at Fox News (despite his previous bad blood with the network), he had truly found his TV soul mate, where he could blather incessantly about “dirty” immigrants and loving all Americans, even the Klan members.
Now Media Matters has unearthed some recordings of Carlson when he was a guest on a rather profane radio show hosted by Bubba, the Love Sponge. His rantings were among the most repulsively misogynistic tirades ever made in a public forum by a well known pundit. In the video compilation Carlson can heard blatantly defending a convicted sexual abuser and justifying child rape:
— Media Matters (@mmfa) March 10, 2019
Subsequently, there has been an outcry for advertisers to boycott Fox News (which many are already doing), and for Fox to fire Tucker Carlson. For the moment, that doesn’t appear to a likely consequence of Carlson’s disgusting behavior. His response to the controversy was a brazenly unapologetic tweet that dismissed any acknowledgement of his grotesque commentaries:
“Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago. Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch. Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”
First of all, what Carlson said wasn’t “naughty.” It was obscene, hostile, and utterly contemptible. It was degrading and dangerous. There is no excuse for the nauseating views he disgorged over and over again. Secondly, his attempt to dismiss it as having occurred a decade ago are laughably hypocritical. He surely doesn’t have the same forgiveness for the North Carolina governor’s blackface photos in a thirty year old college yearbook. Or for the decades old philandering of Bill Clinton. Or for the forty year old remarks by Joe Biden that Carlson featured on last Friday’s show.
Finally, his suggestion that the solution to this problem is for his critics to come on his show and help boost his floundering ratings is grossly self-serving. Plus, it’s a lie that he’ll let “anyone” come on his show to confront him. His modus operandi is to entrap his guests with contrived questions of the “Have you stopped beating your wife” variety. And if they manage to get the upper hand, he interrupts them and cuts them off.
So Fox News is once again being faced with a public backlash caused by one of their noxious hosts. They are simultaneously dealing with comments by Jeanine Pirro, who delivered one of her patented teeth-gnashing, spittle-inflected assaults on Rep. Ilhan Omar that asserted she was anti-America and anti-Constitution because she’s a practicing Muslim. Fox News actually released a statement “strongly condemning” Pirro, but will likely do nothing else.
What’s funny is that they could easily fire Carlson and suffer little or no repercussions outside of the PR hit. The core Fox News audience has demonstrated through the years that they will watch whatever is on Fox, no matter what or who it is. It appears that one obnoxious, lying hate monger is the same as another. So Fox could jettison Carlson and replace him with Jason Chaffetz or Brian Kilmeade and no one would flinch. So why won’t Fox fire Tucker Carlson?
First and foremost, Fox News agrees with Carlson. The network’s mission has always been in alignment with just the sort of repellant verbal abuse that Carlson unleashed in the video above. What’s more, Rupert Murdoch has been a notoriously stubborn purveyor of right-wing media. He will hang on to failing properties for years with the expectation that sheer persistence will bring success. And he has a physical aversion to conceding that he’s ever wrong about anything.
That blind faith in always being right is something Murdoch shares with Donald Trump. And something else they share is the belief that – as Trump put it – he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any of his supporters. That appears to be the working thesis at Fox News where the carnage produced by Carlson, Pirro, and others won’t have any cost in ratings. So even though it would be easier to let Carlson go and plug in another wingnut bot, Fox will cling to his revolting personage and try to weather the storm.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
Unfortunately for Fox News, that old method of doing business may not hold up in the future. The network has been bleeding audience, advertisers, and revenue for several months. Rachel Maddow is kicking Sean Hannity’s fat arse. And the more that Fox clutches tightly to Trump, the worse their prospects have been. So time will tell if enabling jerkwads like Carlson will pay off in the long run.