Michael Blake, the vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee, just paid Tucker Carlson a high compliment. He’s trying to defame, delegitimize, deplatform, and, ultimately, cancel him. That’s because the Fox News host is the most articulate spokesman for a set of principles and priorities that are important to middle America, but anathema to the bipartisan ruling class.
It started when Blake was a guest on Bill Hemmer’s program discussing the Democratic presidential primaries. Blake used the platform to try and embarrass Hemmer by hijacking the conversation to criticize one of the network’s most popular hosts.
“The core question is why the hell does Tucker Carlson still have a job here in the first place?” Blake said. “The reality is, this is someone who said white supremacy is a hoax, and why does Fox allow him to be here in the first place?” After Hemmer tried to steer the conversation back to the Democratic primaries, Blake replied, “I think the core question is he (Carlson) shouldn’t be on here at all.”
Of course, Blake wasn’t trying to convince Hemmer or the Fox audience. He was playing for cheap plaudits from his Fox-loathing base. And perhaps he was playing to those Fox executives and board members who are known to be anti-Trump. Perhaps it’s part of a campaign to pressure those people into disavowing Carlson and depriving him of his platform.
Smearing the Messenger
A media dogpile followed Blake’s attack on Carlson. Politico, The Hill, and The Daily Beast all joined the scrum. But it was a piece in the Washington Post that claimed Tucker Carlson “is a propagandist, though a clever and savvy one.” It was, of course, paired with a photo of Carlson scowling. Get the message? The clever, savvy propagandist at Fox News is not happy. Real subtle.
Of course, this is the same paper that published an op-ed in August calling J.D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy and venture capitalist, a “white nationalist” in the headline. Vance, like Carlson, is one of the best people I know. He was guilty, according to the writer of that particular Post column, because he said in a speech that he wants to see an America in which Americans want to have more children and can afford to raise them. The horror!
Now Carlson is in their sights because he’s a superbly effective communicator reaching millions of people five-nights-a-week. And his clips are then shared and replayed over and over on social media giving him a reach far beyond the 3-4 million people who tune into his program.
But he’s not really a propagandist. That’s just a convenient smear. The Cambridge English Dictionary helpfully notes that the term propagandist is mainly used to express disapproval and that the terms most related to it include, “bad faith,” “lie,” “fiction,” “forked tongue,” and “myth.”
But it wasn’t Tucker Carlson pushing the bad faith lies, fictions, and myths about Donald Trump colluding with Russia to “steal” the 2016 election. That was the job of official Washington.
Nor did Carlson advocate more war in Syria after the April 2018 gas attack in Duma. At the time, Washington was nearly unanimous in its position that Bashar al-Assad was behind the attack and that the United States should undertake yet another regime-change war in the Middle East. Carlson was not part of that stampede. He took the then unpopular position that we didn’t know enough and that we should be more cautious when considering intervening in another country’s civil war.
Now, WikiLeaks has published internal emails from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons suggesting that the organization altered its findings to make them look more conclusive and to frame the Assad government as the more likely culprit, despite evidence to the contrary. The point here is not whether the Assad government was or was not behind the chemical attacks. The point is that we don’t know conclusively who was behind the attacks. Carlson’s caution now has been proven right.
It also wasn’t Carlson—the clever propagandist—who was pushing the plainly phony story that President Trump had committed a high crime and misdemeanor in his July 25 phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and that he should, therefore, be removed from office.
Nor was it Carlson who ran cover for Hunter Biden when he got paid $83,333 per month in “consulting fees” by Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian oligarch’s oil company, at the precise moment his father, who was vice president of the United States at the time, had been tasked by President Obama with overseeing America’s Ukraine policy. The sneer quotes around “consulting fee” are intentional because Biden has no experience in the petroleum industry and was plainly put on the payroll because of the influence his paymasters assumed he could broker with his father.
Americans Are More Than “Human Capital”
No, not a propagandist. Instead, Carlson is the indispensable voice of America’s country class, who insists—with a charming combination of bewildered frustration, world-weary indignation, and youthful insouciance—that the emperor has no clothes. Or, to be more precise, not the emperor, but rather, our broken, inept, corrupt, insulated, and increasingly brittle oligarchy.
And he doesn’t spare the gatekeepers of Conservatism, Inc., the protected class of political insiders who hijacked a once vivacious political movement that cared about nurturing a broad, deep, self-sustaining middle class.
Conservatives used to understand that this is central to American politics, not just because a vibrant middle class is the necessary predicate for ordered liberty and social stability, but because it was the right thing to do. After all, we’re talking about our fellow citizens. To some, we’re bound by blood, to others by friendship, to more by faith, to most by common folkways and allegiances, but to all Americans by a shared future.
It was Carlson, for example, who took Ben Shapiro to task for reducing America to just an economy and her citizens to human capital—for reducing mankind to homo economicus, or economic man. There are higher goods, higher joys, Carlson reminded Shapiro, who seemed to argue that GDP is the most important measure of a civilization’s health. Yes, we pursue prosperity, but prosperity must have a higher end or else it’s just base materialism. Wealth can secure a nation from foreign adversaries so that, safe at home, within the nation’s borders, her people can enjoy the blessing of liberty including faith, family, and friends.
Tucker Carlson has given voice to this most basic—most common-sense—position. And in return, he has a bullseye on his back. But that’s just a testament to the fact that he remains the indispensable voice of those who still believe in our common heritage and our shared future.