Tucker Carlson’s disgusting New Low
I can say this because I know: There’s some seriously dangerous, high-level trolling going on in right-wing media.
Having come from this space — I used to be a Fox News regular, a guest on outlets like Newsmax, an employee at The Blaze, a columnist at The Daily Caller, Townhall, and others — I know a thing or two about how it works.
For many, there is of course a genuine interest in bolstering and defending conservative ideas, promoted by people who genuinely believe them. I was one of those.
Then there are folks who willingly spread racism, xenophobia and bigotry because they either believe in it, or believe their consumers want to hear it.
Finally, there’s a good-sized cadre of outrage-peddlers who follow the money, the center of power and attention, and who say things they know to be untrue just to get people fired up, angry and afraid.
That kind of gaslighting and irresponsibility in right-wing media has become an increasing mainstay at places like Fox, where former President Donald Trump turned it into a ratings bonanza, and personalities like Lou Dobbs and Laura Ingraham made it a fixture. Telling viewers COVID-19 was a hoax, or promoting the Big Lie — things they knew to be false — was a way to keep viewers hooked on the outrage dopamine.
On Monday night, Fox host Tucker Carlson participated in the worst kind of outrage-peddling — the kind that is completely dishonest, intentionally incendiary, and designed to turn Americans against each other just so he can get attention.
In a segment on mask-wearing, he called on his millions of loyal viewers to call the police on parents whose children wear masks, saying, “As for forcing children to wear masks outside, that should be illegal. Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart. Call the police immediately, contact child protective services. Keep calling until someone arrives.”
He went on to equate it with actual child abuse, telling his viewers that they’re “morally obligated to attempt to prevent it.”
It’s hard for me to imagine a universe in which Carlson, a father of four and person I know, actually believes parents of mask-wearing children should be incarcerated, and their children taken away from them. Nor one in which he believes that could legally happen. This isn’t a genuine policy suggestion.