The Cocktail Party Contrarian: The Costs of Losing Tucker

The press would have everyone believe that racism, Russia, and Donald Trump are all that matter, but Carlson doesn’t limit himself to coverage of the accepted priority list of discussion-worthy subjects.

Jason Koerner/Getty Images
Since his firing by Fox News, Tucker Carlson has been building his own online network. Jason Koerner/Getty Images

When Tucker Carlson left Fox News, so did I. I didn’t exit in protest or because I felt my “champion” had just been silenced. I didn’t watch his show regularly because I agreed with everything he said; I watched him because he was interesting, and by “interesting” I mean original, unpredictable, and independent. I never knew what I was going to get, but I knew I wouldn’t get it elsewhere.

Most people I talk to complain bitterly about the polarization of the press. They lament that there is no single trusted reporter or press outlet that can be relied upon to present “both sides” of an issue. This is a problem in an era of political censorship, but it isn’t my main concern.

What we lack more than a forum for “both sides” to be debated is a diversity of stories about which the “sides” get to have a public debate. It is a big country, and a big world, but the press would have everyone believe that racism, Russia, and Donald Trump are all that matter — occasionally guns and abortion, too, when partisan politics make them useful rallying cries. 

Tucker Carlson was different. He responded to the trending topics of the day, to be sure, but he didn’t limit himself to coverage of the accepted priority list of discussion-worthy subjects agreed upon by the mainstream. He talked about the death of the middle class in America, the notion that January 6 was not a violent insurrection, UFOs, declining testosterone levels in men, religious liberty, and the demise of family farming in America. He interviewed the president of Hungary, discussed big pharma’s capture of medical journals, and covered growing Chinese influence in South America. 

His priority list was as wide and diverse as the country itself, and that is what made him interesting to watch, regardless of whether one agreed with his analysis. He was curious about the things no one else seemed to notice, and which affected large numbers of people in meaningful ways. 

Perhaps that was the crime for which he was removed from public view: Tucker Carlson allowed too many people to see that the monolithic media narrative is purposefully crafted to keep audience attention riveted on a select set of issues that serve the interests of those in power, not those who are tuning in. Even the “opposition” press mindlessly plays along. Lacking imagination and inspiration, these outlets cover the same set of stories, just from an opposing perspective, tacitly accepting that these are the most important stories worth telling in the first place.

In addition to being disappointing, this is really boring. It is the same set of stories, told and retold, argued back and forth, in an attempt to numb us all to the fact that we are being fed a very curated media diet. Tucker Carlson thought better of his audience, opening up an all-you-can-eat buffet, and serving everyone. For that he had to go. 

Of course, letting him go wasn’t enough. We now must believe he was a racist and a misogynist, even if the leaked texts purported to demonstrate as much actually don’t demonstrate this at all. In the world of the press, reference to “white men” is necessarily racist, and mention of a woman’s appearance is obviously abusive. That is all the detractors have on the menu. It is beyond stale, but they keep serving it up. 

What they can’t understand is that viewers who watched Tucker Carlson aren’t interested in being fed the same meal over and over again. It isn’t appetizing, and we aren’t biting.

Wherever Mr. Carlson goes, I will follow him – not because I am his “fan,” but because he has been acting like mine. He had enough respect for me and for his other viewers to cook up something new. He had me listening to Naomi Wolf and to Victor Davis Hansen, to Mike Rowe and to Glenn Greenwald and to Jason Whitlock. To Dr. Pierre Kory and to Darryl Cooper and to Jimmy Dore. I even listened with interest to the Chicken Lady. 

Watching Mr. Carlson’s show wasn’t always validating, or even agreeable. When I heard from Jair Bolsonaro, I was pleasantly surprised. When I heard from Kanye West, I was unpleasantly surprised. Either way, it was just nice to be surprised at all. The rest of the press couldn’t be accused of delivering anything off-script, and that is why Fox News has lost me, and presumably many others.

The New York Sun

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