I Don’t Care
Tucker Carlson is maybe in some trouble:
After a progressive media organization dug up years’ worth of his incendiary old comments from a shock jock’s radio show, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said he would not apologize and would not back down from his “mob” of critics — who have “been working hard to kill” his show since the beginning.
Carlson’s forceful response, during his Monday night show, came amid ongoing scrutiny of his appearances on the Bubba the Love Sponge Show. Carlson called into the Florida-based radio program “approximately an hour a week” from 2006 to 2011, according to the liberal group Media Matters for America.
Since Sunday, Media Matters has been publishing excerpts and clips of Carlson’s most startling Bubba the Love Sponge Show remarks, covering topics including gender, race and sexual abuse.
The audio published by Media Matters shows Carlson, among other incidents, denigrating women and the Middle East, jokingly using a gay slur and defending Warren Jeffs, a polygamist leader and convicted sexual abuser.
Carlson defenders and conservatives are trying to make the accusers a part of the story, both arguing that it’s a partisan hit job and that Media Matters (and liberals more generally) are being hypocritical. Brit Hume argues that they’re mostly just mad that he’s successful. Some of the original defenses involved the comments being really old, but some were as recent as 2015.
On the one hand, my patience and willingness to indulge the outrage-mining business is wearing really thin these days. In the same way that my standards for the types of off-the-job comments and behavior that should get somebody fired from their everyday job is rising due to a degree of exhaustion over the tactic involved, it’s taking more and more to get me to care about what the worst thing they can find somebody having said is. If Carlson’s comments are disturbing to our national psyche and cause for consternation, it isn’t Carlson putting them out there right now. It’s his critics. We really didn’t need to know any of this. Media Matters just wanted us to. This is behavior I am tired of seeing rewarded.
On the other hand, these comments are in fact really, really bad. About the best thing that can be said in defense of them is that he’s mostly just stirring the excrement. But remember what I said just one paragraph ago about rewarding bad behavior? We’ve been doing a lot of that lately here, too. These comments were made in a shock-jock context. Shock jocks exist out of enjoyment of making people uncomfortable. It is a dirty, ugly cultural phenomenon. That’s an old manifestation. We saw a newer manifestation on the left recently with Sarah Jeong gaining notoriety by making outlandish comments and riding that notoriety to a job at the New York Times. We see it in the comments that David French points to in one of the earlier links, with Tucker’s accuser having engaged in some of the same things. Shrugging this sort of thing off creates all upside and no downside for anti-social behavior.
I would almost call myself conflicted about this, but the thing is that I don’t care enough to be. If enough advertisers pull out of sponsoring his show until he issues some sort of groveling apology or whatever, some bad behavior is rewarded and other bad behavior is punished. If he successfully maintains the extension of his middle finger, some obnoxious behavior is rewarded and other obnoxious behavior punished. With the exception of some people for whom this is a thrill, there is no scenario in which the rest of us win. My recommendation for things like this is to ignore both it and the actors involved.
I retweeted something that was vaguely anti-anti-Carlson, then something that was anti-anti-anti Carlson, and then… nothing. I didn’t even Giant Statue it. Because I realized that I could hate everyone involved and was under no obligation to care about any of it.
Which may be the smartest position I have taken on any issue in a very long time.
I strongly recommend it.
Though, of course, you’re welcome to duke it out in the comment section here.