Tucker Carlson’s firing puts the exclamation point on the recurring theme of his program.
Tucker Carlson Tonight emphasized the ways in which the powerful few increasingly limited the choice of the faceless many. Whether discussing the Clinton campaign–bought Russian dossier used by the media and the Justice Department to undermine a duly elected president, the federal government’s unconstitutional suppression of speech on social media, or a hundred other topics, Carlson took on bullies who wished to run an end-around on democracy.
His enemies ironically proved through their heavy-handed approach his show’s loose, ongoing thesis. They could not beat him in the ratings. They could only delete him from the TV listings.
Firing the top-rated host on cable news represents a rebellion of the elites against the choice of viewers. Carlson’s viewership, normally north of three million and achieving the highest rating on primetime cable news, indicated that he offered a program that viewers enjoyed. As Bloomberg pointed out regarding cable television, “In what turned out to be his second-to-last week on the air, Tucker Carlson Tonight accounted for four of the 10 most-watched broadcasts in prime time, according to Nielsen data. The only programs with more viewers: the NBA playoffs.”
The market votes in winners with its remotes. Elites, holding the universal remote, overthrow the market when they choose against the will of the people.
Ratings no longer rule. Instead, lawyers can litigate a host out of a job and activists can threaten advertisers to such a degree that the only commercials that remain hawk pillows, silver, reverse mortgages, and vitamins. Tucker Carlson lost his job not because viewers tired of him but because of targeted activism involving courts and corporations.
We saw a glimpse of this when activists pressured the cancellation of Live PD, the highest-rated show on A&E, three years ago. This mania to erase includes the destruction of public art, including statues of Christopher Columbus, Theodore Roosevelt, Robert E. Lee, and Ulysses S. Grant; physical attacks on conservative speakers, including Riley Gaines and Michael Knowles, on campus; and publishers rewriting passages in beloved books by Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming, and Roald Dahl to more closely reflect woke sensibilities.
To take one of the above examples: Does the market that purchased more books by Agatha Christie than any other author in the last century demand the redaction and rewriting of her words or just demand, demand, demand more of her books? In all of these cases, a small number of people took it upon themselves to impose their own views on the public because the public’s own preferences, tastes, and choices offended them.
Executives, surely fed up with the lawsuits, shakedowns of advertisers to withhold dollars, and other behind-the-scenes matters invisible to the public, perhaps imagine that the slot made Tucker rather than that Tucker made the slot. Dire predictions, of course, greeted the network upon news of Bill O’Reilly’s departure seven years ago. Yet, Fox News not just persevered but prospered. That could happen here.
But this feels a little different. Rather than the host offering rote opinions couched in feigned outrage, or light fare consisting of jokes and pictures of animals, Tucker Carlson Tonight offered viewers something very different from what surrounded and what competed. Guests did not reflexively come from the safe list of paid contributors, Republicans — ask Lindsey Graham and Richard Burr — faced critiques as well as Democrats, and news occasionally broke, such as in March when Carlson displayed video of Capitol Hill police walking, talking, and holding doors for an until-recently imprisoned Jan. 6 protestor called the QAnon Shaman; officer Brian Sicknick rather vigorously directing protestors after his murder; and police rushing Sen. Josh Hawley out of the Capitol as he trailed behind many others leaving rather than the dishonestly spliced one played for political effect in the Democratic-controlled Congress showing Hawley alone running out of the building.
That reconsideration of what happened on Jan. 6 also raised the question, unfairly it seems, of whether a pro-Trump protestor acted as an agent provocateur. And Carlson also recently pushed the rather dubious, if commonly held, idea that U.S. intelligence, and not a hardcore Communist, murdered President Kennedy. So, Carlson displayed errors of judgment and committed errors of fact.
This did not facilitate termination notices for journalists who acted as boosters for hoaxes purporting that Donald Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, that Trump supporters issued an early-morning, racist, anti-gay beating in Chicago’s polar vortex to Jussie Smollett who just wanted a Subway sandwich, or that vaccine recipients could not spread COVID.
When does CBS fire Lesley Stahl? She dismissed the 2020 story concerning Hunter Biden’s laptop — whose authenticity her network belatedly, and one imagines begrudgingly, affirmed — by saying it “can’t be verified” and falsely telling the president of the United States to his face that “all these things have been investigated and discredited” in seeming reference to foreign countries paying Hunter Biden.
How about the current silence from journalists who in 2020 pushed the letter secretly generated by the Biden campaign, and then referenced by Joe Biden as an exoneration against charges of his family’s corruption, from national security apparatus figures who claimed of the Hunter Biden laptop that “our experience makes us deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case”?
No consequences come to journalists who act as propagandists on behalf of shady Deep State operators or Big Pharma in making deadly false claims about COVID vaccines.
If you expose all this, then the time ticks on your cable news career even if your ratings dwarf the competition. Alas, a shift from first-person plural to third-person plural occurred sometime this century: Give the people what they want morphed into Give the people what we want.
Your remote does not control. They do.
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