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We have arrived at the moment where Tucker Carlson admits he lies when it's convenient to advance his aims. All human beings do this, but not all of them have a TV show where they say immigrants make the United States of America "dirtier." Surely this will see him hemorrhage viewers from among the 3.3 million people who currently tune in each night to mainline reactionary rage. Ha! One reply to Mediaite's story on the matter captured the most likely mood among any of his fans who actually see this quite succinctly: "At least he’s honest about it."
And what is he honest about? "I lie if I’m really cornered or something," he told Dave Rubin in an interview posted this weekend, adding: "I lie. I really try not to. I try never to lie on TV. I just don’t—I don’t like lying. I certainly do it, you know, out of weakness or whatever."
It sounds like he doesn't never lie on TV, but what else is he supposed to do when his arguments are exposed? Admit he was wrong? Of course, this was all meant to juxtapose him somehow with people who work for CNN and apparently lie systematically to benefit Jeff Bezos:
But to systematically lie like that without asking yourself why am I doing this? So if these people ask themselves why am I doing this? And they say, well, I want to protect the system because I really believe in the system. Ok, who’s running the system? You’re lying to defend Jeff Bezos? Like, you’re treating Bill Gates like some sort of moral leader, like, are you kidding me? How dare you do that!
This is part of Carlson's new populist act, in which the heir to a frozen-food fortune and now—in the words of Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, in a segment where Carlson got owned so bad he refused to air it—"a millionaire funded by billionaires" is really a defender of the common man in Real America. Carlson's actual function is to redirect highly justified anger towards elites who are hoarding all the resources in this country, moving it away from where it might power actual initiatives to change American political economy and towards the culture war. This is a guy who just went to celebrate Hungary, a middling economy mired in elite corruption thanks to authoritarian governance, because the Jefe over there says the right things about immigrants and LGBTQ people.
Oh, and here was a segment on Carlson's show Monday night.
As usual, this is packaged as "so-called liberals won't let you do free speech," though it is actually just a means of spreading more unverified—to say the least—information about the vaccines to Carlson's audience. This show and others have relentlessly aired segments undermining the safety and efficacy of the vaccines under the guise of "they won't let us say this," part of the booming anti-anti-anti-vaccination media market that has taken on some of the characteristics of the old anti-anti-Trump routines. But there's no need to wade into the weeds here. The question is simple: is Tucker Carlson vaccinated? If so, why won't he tell his audience? And does continually presenting the shots in this light, assuming he's been vaxxed just like his billionaire boss, constitute a form of lying?
It's certainly deceptive, like plenty else that goes on the air round these parts. Which brings us back around to that absolution: "At least he’s honest about it." It brings to mind the talk during 2016 that the then-Republican candidate "tells it like it is"—not the truth as we can discern it from observable reality, but the gut-level truth of reactionary conviction. He is saying the right things about the right people.
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