The news of Tucker Carlson’s unceremonious “parting of ways” with Fox News has sent ripples of ecstasy through the least talented, least imaginative, most obsequious sectors of politics and media. Carlson’s unusually large, powerful, and passionate hate-following is a testament to his courage and authenticity as a journalist. Even the Pentagon has chimed in to share its pleasure. Carlson should be honored.
This was bound to happen eventually, as Carlson doubtless knows. The truth is that Fox News was always an awkward fit for a man of Carlson’s independent spirit. He had outgrown his employer’s cynical business model, which is to keep viewers captive with impotent rage. Carlson is too real for that. During his magnanimous reign at the top of cable, he was a powerful voice of dissent, and a spokesman for those alienated by the radicalization of nearly every institution in American life, including those in his own profession, whose banality and conformism Carlson attacked relentlessly.
Toward the end especially, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was a gloomy chronicle of American decline. The world of “Tucker” was filled with ugliness, duplicity, chaos, and decay. Carlson was pilloried as a crank for “conspiracy theories” about the evil doings of people in high places. Perhaps his most controversial habit was to comment on the supposed “conspiracy theory” that Democrats are engineering a permanent majority through the demographic erasure of whites—something Democrats, as Carlson often noted, have bragged about over and over again. His hysterical, overwrought critics never bothered contradicting him, because they couldn’t. The “great replacement” sounds cartoonishly evil, and yet it’s undeniably true. The truth clearly bothered Carlson, and he just couldn’t keep his mouth shut.
As dark as it often was, Carlson’s show was consistently, devilishly funny. The witless dogmatism of his peers only accentuated his polemical gifts. His nightly jeremiads were concentrated assaults on a decadent, childish, narcissistic, corrupt, ungodly, and undeserving elite, an elite that ruled as oligarchs while trumpeting Our Democracy™. The absurdity and self-importance of his enemies—the triple-masked “science” worshiper at Whole Foods, the five-star general racked with white guilt—supplied rich pickings for the host and his devastating vignettes.
Like all talented men, Carlson made the job look easy.
For a cable news guy, his monologues were unusually thoughtful. He was not just reading off a teleprompter, like his 9 p.m. colleague. Although he sometimes exaggerated, one never doubted the sincerity of his reflections on the world and man’s place within it.
His work also had a spiritual impact. Carlson often laced his commentaries with reflections on mortality, the human ambition to replace God, and the preciousness of civilization. The aristocratic host was troubled by the freakish disorder of modern America, and the indignities it heaped upon those whom he called “decent people.”
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” was different. Of course, any old crackpot can be different, but Carlson is no eccentric. He offered something totally unheard of in the world of television: intelligence. On what other show could one hear criticism of war propaganda, anti-white race politics, and the corporate degradation of family life?
If Bill O’Reilly was the sleazy king of cable, Carlson was its genteel sage. With his abrupt, dishonorable ouster, Fox News returns to its regularly scheduled programming of infantilizing, room-temperature talking points, delivered by charmless talking heads like Trey Gowdy and Brian Kilmeade. The mass media, in which Carlson was both the top dog and yet, somehow, the only real voice of opposition, has scored a victory in its quest for total narrative control.
Is it a permanent victory for the Left? There can be no doubt that Carlson has suffered a major career hit. Losing a cable news audience is a huge, perhaps irrecoverable, loss. But Carlson is not finished. A true craftsman, he enjoys what he does and has a compulsion to keep doing it. As long as there is an appetite for truth, he will have an audience somewhere.