Fox News host Tucker Carlson has a pretty recognizable M.O.: the operative — “journalist” was a stretch before and an almost laughable descriptor now — employs the “just asking questions” shtick and simple declarative statements to spin yarns about various political issues, all in service to cementing an often wildly misleading picture in his viewers’ minds.
This more or less works in part because he talks either about culture war esoterica like the apparel of M&Ms or broad, complex concepts like immigration and American identity. The conceit falls apart a little bit when he’s trying it with a widely seen, videotaped and photographed historical event that has been exhaustively detailed in news coverage and litigation, and which scarred our national character.
That is of course the Jan. 6 insurrection, which despite being carried live by Fox as it happened, Carlson shamefully tried to spin with selective presentation and editing of the CCTV footage that was made exclusively available to him by House Speaker and MAGA sock puppet Kevin McCarthy, who sold his remaining integrity in the quest for the gavel. McCarthy actually touts “transparency.”
This is exactly as we and others predicted, a situation made all the more pathetic by the revelations in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit that Carlson was among the Fox News personalities who privately expressed dismay at the election lies that would become the insurrectionists’ primary motivator. Yet it’s wholly unsurprising that the TV showman has failed to develop any shame in the interim, which is precisely why the footage should be provided to the many real journalists who have been clamoring for it.
Perhaps Carlson has finally overreached, given the immediate condemnation of everyone from the White House to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who aligned himself with U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger’s assessment that the Carlson report drew “offensive and misleading conclusions.” Let’s hope that these criticisms at least somewhat blunt the impact of Carlson’s propaganda on the viewers to whom he is openly pandering, but we’re not holding our breath.