August 1, 2023


Tucker Carlson's accidental confession (Matthew Teague, August 1, 2023, UnHerd)

His timing was serendipitous, coming in the churn of Donald Trump's first presidential campaign. But Carlson didn't win an audience of millions by accident; he was exceptionally effective at the job, in ways small and large. His pacing, for instance, is impeccable. Speaking on television is hard -- too slow and you're plodding, too fast and you seem nervous -- but Carlson had perfect timing. More importantly, he understood historical timing; as white Americans shifted from majority towards minority, many hardened into a political bloc and eyed institutions with distrust. Carlson recognised the power in their grievance and made a shift alongside them, casting himself as a populist voice for the forgotten and downtrodden.

It was a deft dance with his audience. It required them to forget that he rose to prominence wearing a bow tie, an affectation he began at preparatory school; that he lunched at The Palm on DuPont Circle in Washington, deep inside the Beltway; that he embodied the very Republican establishment against which he raged. It required him to rage for you.

Carlson and his producers pioneered a new style of commentary. Instead of bowing to Jon Stewart's accusations of manufactured outrage, they built a full-scale factory. It worked like this: producers would scour the American landscape for someone -- anyone -- behaving in outlandish ways. Hyper-wokeness worked best, but sheer nuttiness served at a pinch. Then they presented this fringe behaviour as central, as representative of them, the un-Americans who would supplant you.

Identity politics is about emotion; fertile ground for a Lonesome Rhodes.

Posted by at August 1, 2023 12:00 AM