Over the weekend, Media Matters released its first report garnered from listening to Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s multi-year habit of spending an hour a week on the shock-jock radio show “Bubba the Love Sponge.” It made clear how much Carlson enjoyed wallowing in chauvinism as well as his bizarre defensiveness about forced child marriage.
Maybe someone should look into that?
After a 24-hour news cycle, complete with op-ed reactions and a non-apology from Carlson, Media Matters came in for round two, the blatant racism edition.
Researcher Madeline Peltz, who deserves a medal for sitting through so much of the Florida-based “Bubba” radio show, chronicled in this second piece how Carlson called Iraqis “semiliterate primitive monkeys” and said that Afghanistan will never be “a civilized country because the people aren’t civilized.” Echoing the rhetoric commonly found on white nationalist and neo-Nazi sites, Carlson argued that white men deserve the credit for “creating civilization.”
Actually, the Mesopotamians “invented” civilization (writing, cities, and legal codes anyway). Where was that again? Oh right, modern day Iraq.
Carlson also griped that radio diversity initiatives were “worse than Jim Crow” and said Michelle Obama “got ghetto and started snapping her neck.”
There’s lots more, but you get the idea.
Carlson’s Fox News show has been bleeding advertisers thanks to previous on-air statements about how immigrants make the country “poorer and dirtier.” In response to the Media Matters exposé, activists have renewed their pressure campaign on advertisers, demanding that they stop supporting Carlson’s show.
While the crassness of the language in the “Bubba” clips might be shocking, the ideology on display isn’t any different than what Carlson has peddled on his Fox News show since he took over the prime evening slot from Bill O’Reilly. He just does it more subtly now that he has a national audience and has to pretend to be legitimate.
For at least the last couple of years, Carlson has been taking ideas from fringe right-wing forums and white nationalist groups, cleaning them up with euphemistic language, and presenting them as mainstream conservative commentary.
That’s why Republicans think that they need Carlson. The big story of Donald Trump’s regime has been Republicans deciding, or perhaps realizing, that racist and sexist grievances are their best bet for staying competitive in electoral politics. That and healthy doses of gerrymandering and voter suppression.
They can’t run on their actual policies of massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, paid for by slashing programs like Medicare and Social Security, if paid for at all. Most people are wise to that scam now. The decline of religious fundamentalism has also made it harder for Republicans to run on culture-war issues as well.
All Republicans politicians feel they have left is to inflame white people’s fears of increasing diversity and men’s resentment of the #MeToo movement and women’s growing independence.
Carlson has a knack for making hateful ideologies and irrational attitudes sound more acceptable than they are. He employs lofty-sounding terms like “Western civilization” when what he really means is white nationalism. In doing so, he aids Republicans in their quest to convince large enough numbers of white people to vote their resentments instead of their economic self-interest.
News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch is a proponent of the “never back down” strategy Carlson is employing. This approach makes sense for the audience Fox News is trying to cultivate, which is mainly white people, especially older white men who view women and people of color as inferior and are sick of being made to feel bad about it. It also plays to the enduring desire to “own the libs.”
That’s what the whole narrative surrounding “political correctness” is all about: Teaching conservatives that bigotry is a form of courage, and that politics is about irrationally lashing out at people who have less than they do instead of realizing that it’s the oligarchs who are screwing all of us.
As long he can keep herding people to the polls to vote for Republicans, and against their own self-interests, Carlson will have a home at Fox News where he can make his stupid, scrunched-up Tucker Carlson face.