Tucker Carlson calls for Senator Burr to resign and await prosecution for insider trading if he cannot provide a reasonable explanation for his actions. He goes on to say it appears that Senator Burr betrayed his country in a time of crisis pic.twitter.com/q7yJa5wjuA
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) March 20, 2020
He plays a bigoted thug to perfection on TV, but either Mr. Carlson isn’t quite as dumb as he acts, or he’s at least smart enough to hire competent advisors. Lo, a Damascus moment for one of the richest ‘conservatives’ on Fox News!
Tucker Carlson apparently flew to Mar-a-Lago to personally lobby Trump and his aides to take the coronavirus more seriously and to stop seeing everything though a political lens https://t.co/XO50HpH4qc
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) March 17, 2020
Though it’s hard to believe, Fox News host Tucker Carlson made his very first visit to Mar-a-Lago only a week and a half ago. The resort was hosting a birthday party for former Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle, also attended by Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, and Donald Trump Jr.,—but Carlson wasn’t there for the party. He didn’t even know about it, he says. Instead he’d come with an urgent message for the president. He was there to pull Donald Trump aside and speak frankly about the dangers of the coronavirus epidemic, the gravity of which had not yet fully registered with Trump or his White House.
For his troubles, Carlson was actually exposed to the coronavirus, along with Senators Lindsey Graham and Rick Scott, all of whom had been in the room with infected Brazilian officials attending the party…
Tucker Carlson started talking more extensively about the virus on his Fox News show on February 3, spurred, he says, by harrowing reports emerging from China. Trump, it seems, was the last to know. A White House adviser arranged for Carlson to meet with Trump so the TV personality could, in essence, penetrate Trump’s bubble. They talked for two hours. The oncoming pandemic, Carlson told him, was an existential threat to the nation. To translate it into Trumpian language, an existential threat to his reelection. Mike Pence joined at one point. Carlson won’t discuss the president’s reaction on the record, but suffice it to say that Trump’s denial went on for another week while the pandemic ballooned and right-wing allies—many of them on Fox News—suggested the virus was a liberal hoax and members of Congress, as recently as three days ago, told people to continue going out in public as if nothing was happening.
I’ve known Tucker Carlson for 20 years, since before his infamous Jon Stewart debate on CNN in 2004 and before his paleoconservative tendencies—he was always sympathetic to Pat Buchanan—found their moment in the election of Donald J. Trump, reanimating his career. Carlson has always been one of the most intelligent and reliably savage observers of Washington—even more so off camera. A canny TV diplomat, he won’t say Trump is terrified, weak, politically doomed, in deep denial and surrounded by toadies and mediocrities. But what he does say is enough to make you realize we’re entering uncharted territory…
A sample of the ensuing tonguebath:
We’re at the point where conservative media and right-wing politicians take their cues from Trump and from the White House. Tell me when you decided that maybe something had gone out of whack.
So a lot of Trump voters believe that all news about Trump is designed to hurt Trump. And they’re absolutely right about that. It’s been monomaniacal, the coverage of Trump. So when the moment came, when there was something that ultimately really didn’t have anything to do with Trump, which is the emergence of a weird new virus from Eastern China, they were trained to believe that all coverage was designed to hurt Trump. Because that’s been true. So it was very hard to convince a lot of those news consumers that this was fundamentally not a political story.
Everyone in America has been praying for three years to see all stories through the lens of political advantage, period. And so this isn’t fundamentally political. I mean, it’s affected, of course, by politics and the decisions that elected leaders make. But in the end it’s a story about health and economics. Do you know what I mean?
I do. But I also see that Trump’s political worldview, which 35 to 40% of the country believes, says they should distrust elites and institutions. And we now are in a situation where we need both. We need public trust, we need leadership, and we need faith in institutions to hold up. And now it’s not there.
No, no, we don’t. Now, let’s be wise here. We don’t need faith in institutions to hold up, listen to yourself. We need institutions to behave wisely. That’s what we need. And faith is restored when people make wise decisions. That’s the truth.
The truth is people distrust institutions because they’ve hollowed out the economy and made a mess of the country. Now, that’s just true. Trump has been an imperfect vessel for those sentiments. But the sentiments are rooted in reality, and there’s nobody who looks at America 2020 or 2019 who can say that people in charge have done a good job, ’cause they haven’t, they just haven’t, period. So at a time of crisis, you need people to make wise, prudent, selfless decisions. That’s what you need. And you need the institutions to earn the trust of the population…
When you say institutions have failed, I would include the Trump administration in with that.
Well I don’t think anybody thinks the government is going to save you. I really don’t. I don’t think there’s anybody who thinks that…
Nobody with a grain of sense would fall for that crap, of course. Enter the Cosplay Socialists!
unless you write for the intercept.
— golikehellmachine (@golikehellmachi) March 18, 2020
“That a cable-news host used his outsize influence for a positive purpose is something to be grateful for. But that he had such influence to begin with is nothing short of insane.” https://t.co/93nGB1zG2Y
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) March 19, 2020
Margaret Sullivan, who has always refused to play the idiot for the Media Villagers:
… Was Trump’s turnaround all Carlson’s doing? Of course not.
With the world turned upside down and Americans dying, Trump would have been forced to reckon with the disaster eventually. But the talk-show host did seem to get through to Trump in a way that no one else could, which is completely consistent with what we know about this president.
Trump has always placed far too much emphasis on what he sees on television, especially on Fox, which functions as his inspiration and megaphone. Sean Hannity is a close friend and adviser, who once got a slap on the wrist from Fox brass by appearing with Trump at a rally….
All of which is well beyond unseemly. It would be shocking except that we’ve all grown inured to it in this norm-shattering era of reality-TV star as president…
Honorable mention to Fox ‘newsman’ Sean Hannity:
Hannity blasts the media for their coverage of coronavirus while claiming he's "always taken coronavirus seriously" and "never called the virus hoax."
9 days ago, he said people were faking concern over the virus and trying to "bludgeon Trump with this new hoax" pic.twitter.com/jQ1dyiW4r3
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) March 19, 2020