Thursday, May 11, 2023

#2644: Tucker Carlson

We’ll keep this relatively brief, but Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson is a political commentator, wingnut influencer, conspiracy theorist, anti-vaccine promoter, Media Matters 2022 Misinformer of the Year award winner, (sometimes) Trump sycophant (and key advisor), firm fan of Alex Jones, propagandist and at least arguably a fascist and white nationalist, famous from his (until recently) Fox News primetime show Tucker Carlson Tonight. He is also the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller. His rise to wingnut prominence is detailed here. He’s currently ditched by Fox, but we doubt he’ll go away completely. Our description of him should also be read in light of the possibility that his whole persona is merely an act.


Like many contemporary wingnuts, Carlson used to be at least somewhat oriented toward libertarianism, before moving into conspiracy theories, paranoia and martyr complexes, the Decline of America, authoritarianism and faux anti-elitism (elites being everyone he disagrees with, who then, by virtue of disagreeing with him, are united in aconspiracy – Carlson himself has by 2022 anet wealth of an estimated $420 million and his family is deeply politically connected – he’s a “millionaire funded bybillionaires”). His target elite is of course the other elites. Since facts tend to be stacked against him, Carlson is a supporter of political violence to get things the way he wants them to be, and he has been an outspoken supporter of the January 6 2021 riot.


It is always worth remembering that Fox News, in 2020, defended itself in a defamation lawsuit by arguing that Carlson cannot be trusted to provide accurate information on his show, and that the court actually judged, accordingly, that Carlson is not a credible source of news and is not “stating actual facts” on his show.


Misogyny and homoerotic anti-gay nonsense

A firm defender of G.O.D. gender roles, Carlson considers the idea of a woman paying for meals “disgusting” and is very upset by the fact that women are allowed to serve in the military. His views on women and gender roles, in his own words, are summarized here. He is also a consistent defender of Warren Jeffs.


His view of men and masculinity is juicier, however. In general, Carlson defends the type of macho ideal beloved by people like Putin, Orbán and Andrew Tate, and his style of macho idolizing often turns weird, as expressed e.g. in the trailer for his … documentary? … The End of Men, the premise of which was “the total collapse of testosterone levels in American men”. The trailer became known as one of the most strikingly homoerotic features on the internet, with hunky shirtless men wrestling and doing ‘manly’ things, as well as for Carlson’s laughably idiotic ‘treatment’ suggestion for the (unproven) ‘problem’ of low testosterone, namely red light therapy: apparently the means to become a High-Testosterone Manly-Man is testicle tanning using light woo (this one is particularly useful on the connection between homoerotic woo and the fascist currents in Carlson’s rightwing circles).


No fan of explicitly gay people, Carlson’s has for instance expressed his dislike of California’s pro-LGBT curriculum: “It’s all part of an effort to force kids to approve of homosexuality.” He is also firmly opposed to gun safety, seatbelt laws and the “inelegant” and “creepy metric system.


Carlson on race

Carlson has, for a while, been one of the most significant promoters of white nationalist rhetoric. Much of it is familiar stuff, such as claiming that California is becoming a third world country  because of Latin American migrants or that Ilhan Omar isliving proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country”, but Carlson has also promoted “The Great Replacement” theory (indeed, he has explicitly denied promoting it, explicitly promoted it by name, and then claimed that he has never heard of it while simultaneously accusing “the left” of pushing it – all depending on what’s convenient at the moment). He has for instance repeatedly claimed that Mexico has interfered in American elections more successfully than Russia by “packing our electorate; indeed, the Democratic party is in generaltrying to replace the current electorate” with “more obedient voters from the Third World”. “If you change the population, you dilute the political power of the people who live there. So every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter,” said Carlson.


Meanwhile, he has described white supremacy as a hoax and “a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power”.


Foreign policy

Carlson is, as mentioned, a huge fan of Putin, and he consistently defended Russia’s military actions at least throughout early 2022 (“Why wouldn’t we be on Russia’s side?”) – but also after: Even after February 2022, Carlson has been opposed to any sort of assistance to Ukraine, and he has regurgitated Kremlin propaganda on numerous occasions and whined that pundits and politicians who were demanding strong action against Russia are “pathetic” “Twitter trolls” spewing “ad hominem” attacks against Vladimir Putin. He has also concocted and promoted various conspiracy theories about the war, e.g. that “Ukrainian interests have pumped millions of lobbying dollars into Washington, D.C.” to “tell us that Russia is bad” and the ridiculously silly delusion that the US is supporting bioweapons labs in Ukraine based on rumors propagated without evidence or any anchoring in reality by infamous Russian propaganda outlets and filtered through Russian bots on Qanon discussion sites. When retired U.S. Army Col. Douglas MacGregor, a delusional fringe wingnut, falsely said, on Carlson’s show, that Putin’s government “rests on the foundation of Orthodox Christianity” and that “we should celebrate that, not try to destroy it,” Carlson responded: “Maybe that’s one of the reasons we are trying to destroy it?


When Putin declared two regions of Ukraine to be “independent states” and authorized Russian forces to be deployed to the region as “peacekeepers”, Carlson rushed to his defense, with an impressive array of whataboutism tactics (we got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?) and why does Ukraine have “a God-given right to territorial integrity” when we have “Hondurans invading Texas”?) and pointing out Putin’s positive character traits: “Has Putin ever called me a racist? ... Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years?Carlson’s pro-Russia propaganda has been widely broadcast and circulated in Russia.


Carlson’s bromances are not Putin-exclusive, though, but encompasses Hungary’s Viktor Orbán as well. An advocate for Orbán’s “STOP Soros” act, Carlson even made a documentary, Hungary vs. Soros, where he depicted Hungary as a traditional conservative Christian paradise threatened by, well, George Soros, as well as promoting relatively overt racism. The documentary was widely circulated in Hungary. Carlson has also praised the Chinese government as “virtuous” for intervening in its citizens’ private lives and placing restrictions on gaming and celebrity culture and argued that the Biden administration should do the same because, apparently, freedom – government overreach is overreach only when Carlson doesn’t get to decide how such overreach is employed.


By contrast to the Russian, Hungarian or Chinese governments, Carlson has accused other countries’ leaderships of authoritarianism; according to Carlson “there’s no more fearful despot in the world”, one that is more dictatorial, than Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, and in February 2022 he suggested that Volodymyr Zelenskyy is “a dictator who’s friends with everyone in Washington.”


January 6 riots

A vocal defender of the January 6 riot (he got Ted Cruz to apologize for calling it a “terrorist attack”), Carlson has repeatedly asserted (falsely) thatthere’s no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on January 6.”. He has also promoted (based largely on the ideas of Darren Beattie of Revolver News) the conspiracy theory that the Capitol storming was a false flag” FBI operation intended to “suppress political dissent” and that unindicted co-conspirators in rioters’ indictments were government agents, saying that FBI operatives were organizing the attack on the Capitol on January 6, according to government documents”.


In October 2021, many of the conspiracy theories were collected in the three-part overtly fascist series Patriot Purge, produced by Carlson and co-written with pizzagate conspiracy theorist Scooter Downey, which for instance suggested that the January 6 attack was a government false flag operation to implicate the rightwing. Carlson stated on-air that the government had “launched a new war” on American citizens and characterized his own series as “rock-solid factually”. Needless to mention, the claims in the series have no connections to facts, and even rightwing commentators decried the series as “a collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering, riddled with factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery, and damning omissions” (though at least Fox itself ultimately bowed, however).


And not only is Carlson an ardent promoter of stop-the-steal misinformation (he has actually, in connection with idiot Kari Lake’s election fraud accusations in Arizona, put the stop-the-steal activist relationship with evidence rather succinctly: the only proof there isn’t election fraud in Arizona is if the Republican wins), he has also tried to question the Watergate scandal – how could it be, wondered Carlson, that Nixon won the 1972 election by the “biggest margin ever” (false, of course) and then “within a year he was disgraced, and six months later he was gone.” That, thinks Carlson, is something “no one can still explain even to this day”. Because if he doesn’t want to grasp basic facts, then no one can grasp them – which, by the way, is also his go-to strategy when it comes to climate change:


Climate change denialism

One of Carlson’s most recognizable features is his trademark uncomprehending expression when he e.g. fails to understand basic science and, because of his failure to understand, plumps for the denialist position, as he does e.g. on global warming. The Carlson incomprehending look is also his main strategy for undermining the scientific evidence e.g. when confronted with basic facts – yes, it’s the argument from incredulity on steroids: prideful ignorance, and it works.


Covid misinformation (but of course)

Usually an opponent of face masks, which he does not understand, Carlson has claimed that mask mandates is the equivalent to living in North Korea. The point of the comparison was somewhat unclear, as Carlson was adamant that he didn’t mind authoritarianism, something he promptly emphasized by suggesting that parents who have their children wear face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic were actually committing child abuse, and urging his viewers to call the police on such parents because parents’ choice applies only when parents choose what Carlson tells them to choose. Carlson’s opposition to facemasks is not particularly consistent, however, as it keeps changing depending on what Democrats are saying about the subject – indeed, Carlson’s judgment of the severity of Covid-19 has been rather inconsistent, depending mostly on what his allies and enemies, respectively, are saying at any moment.


Carlson has otherwise promoted a vast array of silly conspiracy theories about COVID, including variants of the lab leak theory (China has “blood on its hands) (yes, it’s still a conspiracy theory, especially in the variants promoted by Carlson) and – of course – accusing Anthony Fauci of contributing to the creation of the virus or, citing e.g. conspiracy theorist Nicolas Wade’s evidence-free speculations, even of being “the guy who created Covid. And he has, of course, touted the imaginary benefits of the anti-parasite medication ivermectin as a possible COVID-19 treatment; which it most certainly is not.


Carlson has frequently invited (and parroted the claims of) Covid-denialists and conspiracy theorists, including Alex Berenson, onto his show to spout misinformation; Carlson even offered to fund Berenson’s lawsuit against Twitter after the latter had correctly banned his account for Covid-19 misinformation.


Anti-vaccine propaganda

Carlson’s descent into regular promotion of anti-vaccine propaganda started – of course – with JAQing off about the COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting thatmaybe it doesn’t work” and displaying a total misunderstanding of the public health guidelines for fully vaccinated people in the process (“If vaccines work, why are vaccinated people still banned from living normal lives? […] So maybe it doesn’t work and they’re simply not telling you that. […] What’s the other potential explanation? We can’t think of one” – the key phrase being of course ‘can’t think of one’), as well as cherry picking data, distorting and misrepresenting studies, and demonstrating that he does not understand the concepts of causality or control groups – yes, Carlson tried to fear-monger using the fact that some people coincidentally died within a month after receiving the vaccine, which is of course expected when millions of people get the vaccine, and he did of course not consider comparing that group to people who weren’t vaccinated. Meanwhile, businesses requiring people be vaccinated were “medical Jim Crow” and vaccine mandates in the U.S. Armed Forces are designed to oustthe sincere Christians in the ranks, the free thinkers, the men with high testosterone levels, and anyone else who doesn't love Joe Biden”.


He has also claimed that the COVID vaccine gave us “the single deadliest mass vaccination event in modern history” (based on figures dreamt up in various antivaccine blog posts) and compared vaccine requirements to Nazi and Imperial Japanese Army medical experimentation because he, as already demonstrated and like antivaxxers in general, doesn’t understand what an experiment is or what it means to be experimental, which is of course the confusion that lies at the core of the antivaxx rambling murderlustful wet dream about a Nuremberg 2 (Carlson’s guest about the latter was the absolutely rabidly insane antivaccine conspiracy theorist Robert Malone). And to give you the full flavor of Carlson’s level of dishonesty, you can check out his attacks on CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization practices here – or his stunningly dishonest reporting about an alleged “revelation” that Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine phase 3 trials didn’t test its ability to block transmission: a “cover-up”, according to Carlson. Hopefully we don’t need to explain to readers here how laughably idiotic that take is. More recently, he has latched onto the antivaccine “#DiedSuddenly” campaign, which – as antivaxxers have always done – tries to blame any death or illness experienced by anyone (such as Damar Hamlin) on zeh vaccine, with no evidence or plausibility whatosever


And Carlson’s antivaccine views are not limited to the COVID-19 vaccines, but expands to vaccines in general; Carlson has for instance promoted the work of anti-vaccine leader Robert Kennedy, jr., including the latter’s book The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health (Children's Health Defense).


And yes, he has, like any good anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, invoked the VAERS database, deliberately misunderstanding how it works.


There’s a decent Tucker Carlson resource here.


Diagnosis: Lots of people think, incredible as that may sound, that he has some good points, and just assume that his claims about reality actually have anything to do with reality. Some among his audience also thinks he is pretty smart; and in fact: that may very well be the case – Carlson is a post-truther and a bullshitter, and he really just doesn’t care about whether his claims are correct or not as long as they serve the narrative he wants to tell. But that is on its own enough to make him a loon – one of the most influential and dangerous not only in the US but in the world today.


Hat-tip: rationalwiki


  1. "We'll keep this relatively brief.."

    Oh no, it's not short, just as long as it should be!

    Kudos to everyone who participated in writing this work!


    " of the most influential and dangerous not only in the US but in the world today."

    I really don't know how much you in the US are aware of the influence this moron Carlson and the whole Fox News bulument has. Before the first era of Trump, Tucker Carlson and fucking QAnon (until January 6, 2020) they went over the heads of all normal people in Europe with their idiotic nonsense! I personally asked some of them, well, for god's sake, why do you buy all that is bad from that America and ignore all that is good (let's say some important features from the US constitution)? The only answer I got was: "But it's THE BEST from America!". Well, I said, if that's the "best" thing to do, enjoy it, you idiots!

    As the great Winston Churchill once said (it seems to me in the midst of the Second World War), a paraphrase or a quote (please forgive me inacuracie): "The democratic system is certainly not the best system for ruling over people, but, unfortunately, we don't have a better one for now ( i.e. not invented yet)".

  2. (When I was younger (much, much younger) I often wondered why people like to lie. Better to say, why do they like to be LIED to? And then it occurred to me, maybe because they and their ancestors have been living in a lie for two thousand years! They are used to the lie that every week (actually every day now) popes, priests, and some "spiritual" charlatans" pour into their idiotic brains)

  3. Well, "spirtual charlatans" is kind of oximorom (what do you think "resurected" BP8? Is this an oximoron, moron?)

    1. You and GD both sound like faithful and trusting democrats. Joe Biden would be proud!

    2. If this guy "Joe" is somehow connected with a great heavy-country band of all time, and from my teenage years, named "Iron Biden", surely he can be proud of me coz I`m the greatest fan! (But if you can help me further, what instrument he played, drums, fiddle, or French harp /harmonica/? I can't remember right now...)

  4. "Viktor Orbán..."

    And this idiotic moron is especially dangerous! (Please, watch carefully over this bastard in the West!).

    There is a significant group of ethnic Hungarians in my country and they believe all the nonsense that he & his government (AAAHGHAHA..) spews in the public arena. When I say to you that it is not enough to listen/read his nonsensical speeches in translations, you must hear this shitty stuff by yourself in Hungarian if you want to catch up on all his shitty nonsense to believe what they say (which is, ofc, somewhat impossible).

    I can't remember such hypocrisy, to be precise, Christian hypocrisy, to see twenty or thirty years ago in this country (freaky, btw) for almost thirty years. (I am deeply convinced that Orby and his servants laugh ass off them when they finish public speeches they speak about "Christian values". But it is all for the common peasants. Until the internet came I really didn't believe that can be such ignorant and stupid (to the core) folks.. but now, I'm afraid that our civilization will come to an end because of such crap idiots who call themselves Homo sapiens sapiens (for god ducking sake!!!).

  5. A bit belated but I don't check this site but once every two or three weeks. The first and most salient fact about Tucker Carlson: (1) first and foremost, he's an *entertainer*. And in the present environment, if anyone doing so-called commentary knows of a way of building and keeping an audience of millions without "boundary warping" news/commentary into entertainment, please let us know! (For "boundary warping" see Ian Mittroff and Warren Bennis, The Unreality Industry: The Deliberate Manufacture of Falsehood and What It Is Doing to Our Lives, published in 1989).

    That said, I'm not convinced Carlson is wrong about Ukraine (to take the example I think of first). Anyone who studies the recent history of the region understands three things: (1) following the end of the cold war NATO violated every agreement it made not to expand eastward toward Russia's borders; so why would Russia trust NATO not to put nukes on a base just minutes in striking distance away from Moscow? (2) the 2014 coup replaced a democratically elected but Russia-friendly government with a corrupt but U.S./NATO friendly government; (3) that government began persecuting ethnic Russians in the eastern breakaway regions as well as initiating pursuit of eventual NATO membership. Both of these put Ukraine and Russia on collision course.

    Could this analysis be wrong? I don't think so, but sure, obviously there's an outside chance I've been totally misinformed or fallen for "pro-Russian misinformation" as I don't have a boots-on-the-ground source there. I'll take the chance, given that it's my tax dollars (as well as every other American's) being thrown at that rathole when I can think of a dozen better uses of them at home.

    What I've learned -- Charlottesville was revelatory here -- is that if you don't have a boots-on-the-ground source whom you know you can trust, you don't know *jack* about what really went down (or is going down). Using that example, not a single media outlet (CNN, MSNBC, anyone) mentioned either the Antifa or the Black Lives Matter presence in Charlottesville or that they (not Unite the Right) instigated the violence, much less the fact that Unite the Right had a legal permit that was violated and were exercising their rights of assembly and freedom of speech under the First Amendment. For the only attempt at an intellectually honest account of what happened there I've run across, see Anne Wilson Smith, Charlottesville Untold: Inside Unite the Right (2021). The author is the daughter of respected Southern historian Clyde Wilson, one of the world's leading authorities on John C. Calhoun (FWIW).

    1. "NATO violated every agreement it made not to expand eastward toward Russia's borders" -- BIG ASS citation needed, there was no such agreement.