The Atlantic Takes Us On A Terrifying Journey Into Tucker Carlson's Brain
Yesterday, on God's day or when decent people brunch, The Atlantic published a profile of Fox News host Tucker Carlson. It's called "What Does Tucker Carlson Believe," and it only gets worse from there. The article is so oblivious to Carlson's grossness you'd think his mother wrote it, but instead self-described "teenage Ann Coulter fan girl" Elaina Plott does the dishonors.
Tucker Carlson does not think he is an "especially" good person.
He shouldn't. He's an "especially" bad person. We've yelled at him previously for his homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and racism. He also once voluntarily wore bow ties. But he thinks it's "elitists" such as former United Nations ambassador Samantha Power who believe "I'm a good person and you're not." This is how the TV dinner heir cons millions of gullible people that he's "one of them." There's no base instinct they posses that he doesn't share. Laughably, Carlson claims that he has empathy but "drooling morons" like Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan do not. (He really doesn't like women who are smarter than he is, which are most of them.)
Plott uncritically promotes the fiction that Carlson is some champion of the common man. His weeknight white supremacy variety show is a "gleeful fuck you" to the "elite." Carlson is a millionaire with a greater net worth than the Democratic women of color he regularly attacks, but sure, let's see what he has to say about the "leadership class" who control our lives.
"Our leadership class is narcissistic," Carlson tells me. "And like all narcissists, they're incredibly shortsighted. The moral preening is a symptom of something deeper, which is narcissism."
This statement is too dumb to take seriously. Yet Plott believed Carlson might be the guy to articulate a "meaningful iteration of Trumpism," one with the "intellectual heft" to endure beyond Donald Trump's presidency. Conservatives are desperate for someone to repackage Trumpism as "Diet Populism," with all the appealing anti-elitist flavor but without the unhealthy bigotry. Unfortunately, "Diet Populism" just gives your brain tumors. During a brief moment of journalistic lucidity, Plott confronted Carlson about his Travis Bickle-esque rant last year on how immigrants are making the country "dirtier." He responded with more advertiser-alienating rhetoric.
Advertisers flee Tucker Carlson over immigration comments www.youtube.com
"I hate litter," he said. For 35 years now, he said, he has fished in the Potomac River, and "it has gotten dirtier and dirtier and dirtier and dirtier. I go down there and that litter is left almost exclusively by immigrants, who I'm sure are good people, but nobody in our country—"
"Wait," I said, cutting him off, "how do you know they're—"
"Because I'm there," he said. "I watch it."
Carlson knows intuitively which litterbugs weren't born in America. He has x-ray vision that lets him read their birth certificates as they dump old TV sets in the Potomac. Someone should inform Carlson, who loves to mock the Green New Deal, that climate change will eventual endanger his fishing, as well.
If Plott was trying to prove that Carlson isn't a gross white nationalist, she failed. Liberals like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aren't just calling anyone a racist who doesn't support increased immigration. Carlson consistently uses dehumanizing language when describing immigrants and brown people. This profile is called "What Does Tucker Carlson Believe," and Plott spends so many words avoiding the obvious answer, which is white supremacy. Plott suggests that maybe it's just Carlson's viewers who are racists, and he only says horrible things to keep them watching. That still makes him a racist. It's also not likely that his immigrant litter diatribe was for the benefit of all six of his viewers who read The Atlantic. Maybe this is just what he believes, and it's terrible.
So cue the lamentations again, this time from the movement conservatives, who might have hoped to see him contend with populism's fraught history and Trump-era manifestation and shape it into something different. "Carlson has radically reinvented himself," says David French, senior editor of the conservative outlet The Dispatch, "and one would hope he'd reinvent himself again, grant the reality of right-wing populism's race problem, and do something determined and intentional to overcome it."
When Plott shared David French's advice, Carlson laughed in his face from afar. He dismissed French as a "buffoon" (fair enough), one of the "least impressive people" he's ever met (probably true). Carlson declared that only in "non-profit conservatism" could French have a paying job. That's a sick burn, bro, but Carlson only sees French and other "movement conservatives" in his rearview mirror.
"I've made a complete break mentally with the world I used to live in."
This is what narcissists or people with borderline personality disorder say after they've melodramatically cut ties with people from their "former lives" who are now "inconvenient." Carlson admits that it's hard to "see your own flaws" when you enjoy as much success as he currently does. We can all agree that the one thing Carlson believes in most of all is his continued success, no matter the cost.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."