Saw this anti-Tucker Carlson infographic going viral https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/04/30/us/tucker-carlson-tonight.html
Of course the NYTs is defaulting to the usual pearl clutching, because heaven forbid some people are skeptical of ‘health experts’ or the outcome of the 2020 election. If we want to blame Tucker for Jan 6th, then we must also blame the left-wing media for the 2020 George Floyd riots. And in spite of 1150 episodes of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” since 2017, it didn’t stop Trump from being impeached, or the Covid lockdowns, nor did it prevent Biden from winning and then later being confirmed. Democracy is still intact in spite of it always being on the brink of its demise according to the media. His reach is still small, just 3 million viewer per episode. Pundits and entertainers are popular among their respective audiences, but there is little spillover beyond that such as to policy.
Also, he’s not even that right wing or extreme. A lot of his content is typical of conservative talk radio, but with an economic populist twist. He promotes a sort of universalism that borrows from left-wing economics and right-wing traditionalism. The universalism is the shared values spanning all ethnicities and groups unified against a ‘globalist elite’. It’s inherently egalitarian in that regard…like a right-wing version of Maoism . How many on the left do you think effusively approve of Pelosi or Soros either? None probably. Tucker’s popularity is not so much an endorsement of right-wing values as it’s an indictment of the disloyalty and uselessness of America’s ruling class.
Here is tucker praising Sanders regarding Amazon:
Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. Many of his employees are so poor, you’re paying their welfare benefits. And he’s not the only tech billionaire offloading his payroll costs onto taxpayers. This is an indefensible scam. Why is only Bernie talking about it? pic.twitter.com/PdXBfQsHsq
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) August 31, 2018
Because Tucker is a good communicator, he makes the left-wing case better than even the left does. It’s likely also wrong. It would imply that Amazon workers are consuming more in welfare by working than if they were unemployed. Also, Amazon and Walmart already have low profit margins, around 2% for Walmart, so to pay all their employees a ‘livable wage’ would not be feasible in the long-run. Either the government has to pay the difference or Amazon and Walmart would have to be subsidized, and then that would still come from the government.
Tucker is popular for the same reason Breaking Points is popular. It’s not because of the political views espoused per say, but because such shows provide a shortcut to understanding the world. Which is also my main criticism, because I think it promotes a false sense of epistemic certainty. Issues are complicated, such as wages as described above. Reductionist populist talking points fail to adequately convey the nuance and multifacetedness of many issues. A podcast, YouTube video, or TV show is a shortcut instead of having to do the extra work to understand an issue beyond the superficial. The villains and good guys are seldom the 1-d cutouts as depicted on those shows.