[W]ith Trump gone, [Tucker] Carlson has become the most audible mouth in the agitation-provocation space.
Like Trump, he labors to produce the incendiary and infuriating to attract attention and the very commendations he found himself buried neck-high in after his monologue. He lives to generate outrage from Democrats and the hall monitors at Media Matters for America. Has the #firetuckercarlson hashtag started to trend on Twitter? From Carlson’s point of view, nothing could be better. Has Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple, who has become Tucker’s Inspector Javert, started making calls to child protective services to see whether people are actually phoning in reports of children being abused because their parents have forced masks on them? Bait taken. The Anti-Defamation League has called for his sacking for his “replacement theory“ segment? All the better! The indictments against him, the hashtags, all of those Wemple pieces attacking him, and Media Matters’ saturation coverage of Carlson’s show work better to connect him to potentially new audiences and seal his appeal with regulars than a billboard in Times Square or on the Sunset Strip might. Like Trump before him, the fact that certain people hate Carlson only endears him to others. Like Trump before him, Carlson’s premeditated lunacy serves as a promise that newer, even more lunatic lunacy is forthcoming. And like Trump, Carlson has mastered the art of putting his audience on the edge of its seat in anticipation of what he’s going to say next.
Saying wild things to own the libs is not something Carlson just stumbled on. He’s been mining the outré vein for at least 15 years as this Media Matters chronology of his wildest comments on air shows (see also these roundups at Insider and the Independent). If Carlson’s comments grate liberal ears more today than they previously did, perhaps it’s because he’s no longer competing with Trump for honors. It’s almost as if the kayfabe of news requires somebody like Carlson or Trump or Steve Bannon or Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck or Pat Buchanan to wave the flag of nuttism for the amusement of the red-staters and the protestations of the blues. If Carlson were to retire tomorrow, a new villain (or hero, depending on your political temperament) of discourse would rise to take his place. [Continue reading…]