The mainstream media has collectively decided to target Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and for good reason. He’s using dangerous false information and dangerous white supremacist rhetoric to steer his audience of millions in the wrong direction. But whenever the media sets its sights on a villain like Carlson, it usually ends up portraying that villain as having a secret evil genius master plan who has us right where he wants us.
So while it’s good that the media is loudly condemning Carlson, it’s troubling that the media keeps painting Carlson as invincible. No one in the political realm, neither candidate nor commentator, ever has a magic wand. One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a political villain is too much media attention, all at once. The resulting scrutiny tends to uncover the kinds of things that the villain was hoping would remain secret. And the resulting pressure causes the villain to start cracking, thus damaging his own career path.
There’s no more clear sign of this than just how clearly agitated Tucker Carlson is right now. He spends his show spewing incoherent conspiracy theories about his college yearbook, throwing his own guests off the air, and randomly cackling in a manner that would lead the Joker to label him unhinged.
Sure, it may be an act to some extent. But you can tell that Carlson is rattled. He’s certainly not enjoying the sudden mainstream media spotlight, or the pressure that comes with it. If he were pleased with the larger stage he’s suddenly being given, he’d be using that stage to try to further his message and build his brand.
Instead, Carlson sounds like a guy who fears he’s one false move away from his career being over. Not only does he come off as genuinely freaked out about this on his own show, he’s also sounding frantic and frazzled during his other media appearances. During a recent interview he kept ranting semi-incoherently about why he doesn’t like anyone in the media, calling them “not that bright” and “not impressive” and admitting “I really hate them.” Does this sound like a guy who thinks his job is safe?
There’s some debate as to whether Fox News will ever cancel him for continuing to lose advertisers. But if the media keeps poking around in his life and finds any major skeletons in his closet, or if Fox concludes that Carlson is a liability for other reasons… well, we all saw how Fox shoved Bill O’Reilly and Lou Dobbs out the door, despite their strong ratings.
We’ll see where this goes. There’s no doubt that Tucker Carlson is a danger to the nation. And it’s a good thing that rest of the media is finally acknowledging that he’s not just a crap host on a crap network; he’s a white supremacist threat to national security. But let’s not think for one minute that Carlson is magically winning just because he’s in the spotlight. Some types of villains survive and prosper because they know exactly how to take advantage of the spotlight when it lands on them. Carlson’s response suggests that he can’t handle the pressure that the spotlight brings with it. But then he always was remarkably fragile like that.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report