The Handmaid’s Tale is “wooden and stupid.” Most of the winners are “hacks, their shows are dumb, their art is crap.” John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight win was a victory for a “weekly sanctimony fest.” Thus did Tucker Carlson slam the Emmy awards on Monday night’s Tucker Carlson Tonight. The Fox News host sharpened his pencil, further furrowed his already dementedly furrowed brow, and turned his show into Tucker Carlson, Fightin’ TV Critic to lay waste to the proceedings, speaking over clips of Emmy host Stephen Colbert and winners such as Alec Baldwin, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Donald Glover.
Carlson’s main beef? He thinks the Emmys represent “a remarkable triumph of identity politics over art and entertainment.” Beneath the screaming chyron “Hollywood Culture Wars,” Carlson — the preppiest prepster on TV, the closest Fox News comes to its own version of Gilligan’s Island’s Thurston Howell III — insisted that it was the Emmy nominees, not him, who try to stoke class warfare. He referred to the Emmys as the “expression of America’s ruling class has for the rest of the country,” and I admit to a certain admiration for anyone who can look at Dolly Parton or Carol Burnett and see a ruling class at work.
As always, Carlson projects onto his chosen enemies the characteristics he has internalized during his time at Fox. Thus the man who condescends each night to his viewers by telling them stuff he can’t possibly believe himself described Hollywood as “an utterly distorted world, warped by ideology” — and no, I double-checked, he wasn’t doing a promotion for a new Fox News ad campaign. (“Fox News: Warped By Ideology!”) Carlson insisted on Monday night that “the middle class elected Donald Trump, and [Sunday] night, Hollywood demonized them for doing it.” Message: Celebrities hate you, so be sure to hate them back.
But one phrase really gave Carlson’s game away. That “warped” world he described was also a place, he said, “where everybody has to pretend that Ta-Nehisi Coates writes well.” Ho ho! What was this leap from attacking Left Coast TV stars to slamming an author — a non-celebrity book-writer, and national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly? Could it be that Carlson was getting in an out-of-nowhere dig at a man who recently published “The First White President,” a long, well-reasoned argument for Donald Trump’s presidency as, among other things, a metaphor for renewed racism in the country?
Carlson, who howls nearly every night that people who accuse others of racism are automatically racist themselves, folded Coates in with clips of Donald Glover’s acceptance speech sarcastically thanking Trump “for making black people number one on the most-oppressed list,” and the red-carpet comment by Issa Rae of HBO’s Insecure that she was rooting for black nominees. Carlson knows that Coates’s arguments are vivid and valid and far-reaching in the WASP precincts Carlson inhabits off-camera, even as he insists that he’s just another ordinary-folks Fox News tool. So the only way he knows to relieve himself of the discomfort Coates’s arguments give him is to try to reduce Coates to being a money-grubbing Hollywood star. It won’t work, Tucker. Better luck next time … which will probably be tonight, and the night after that. …
Tucker Carlson Tonight airs weeknights at 8 p.m. on Fox News.
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