By Kyle Jarrett
Watching the Fox News ratings super-hit, Tucker Carlson Tonight, it can be tempting to wonder just how cynical Carlson really is. Because of course everyone remembers Jon Stewart’s epic takedown of Carlson (and his little red bowtie), along with co-host Paul Begala, back in 2004, when Carlson was still a CNN employee and his primetime program was called Crossfire. In the clip linked above, Stewart mercilessly exposed Carlson’s obvious cynicism about his viewers, (among many of the show’s other faults), as well as his willingness to exploit their gullibility for personal profit. Crossfire went off the air not long after, its credibility damaged beyond repair.
But Tucker himself didn’t go off the air. He just found his way over to Fox News, where his brand of cynical dog-whistling is not only accepted, it’s applauded, and defended from the top of the organization on down.
Yet, still, it’s tempting to wonder: Does Carlson, himself, the man, actually believe in the provable falsehoods he directs at his viewers day after day?
Let’s examine just one example here, notable because it generated sustained backlash even by Tucker-Carlson-standards:
Does he really, actually, believe in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers-type “Great Replacement” conspiracy he spent so much of 2021 promoting? Or has he simply realized that he pays no consequences for using basely racist key-words like “Replacement Theory,” and that, conversely, his millions of viewers are ready to laud his bravery and write off his racist dog-whistles as simply “trolling the Left”? And where does this Replacement Theory actually come from?
So many questions, open to so much speculation.
But while answering what Tucker actually believes in his mind would require climbing into his head ala Being John Malkovich, the question about where Replacement Theory comes from is imminently answerable. First described in his 2010 book, L’Abécédaire de l’in-nocence, French author and noted racist Renaud Camus theorizes that “the indigenous French people (“the replaced”) are being demographically replaced by non-European peoples—mainly coming from Africa or the Middle East—in a process of “peopling immigration” encouraged by a “replacist power””
In other words, white people are being “replaced” in white society by non-white immigrants, and this represents a threat to some sort of White Way of Life.
And doesn’t that sound familiar? Aren’t we constantly hearing from Fox News and OANN and Newsmax that the American way of life is somehow under threat? And hasn’t that supposed threat been internalized to such an extent that 4 out of 10 of our Republican neighbors now believe that political violence may be necessary to protect it? And hasn’t this sort of nativism been evident for years now, growing like a cancer in the underbelly of the Republican Party?
Never mind the study after study showing that first generation immigrants to “Western” countries actually tend to be slightly more socially conservative, on average, than the general populations of those countries, or that, here in America, at least according to this Washington Post piece, “new first-generation immigrants are not likely to give [Democrats] a huge bonanza of additional votes.”
So, why is this theory so attractive to Conservative mouthpieces like Carlson?
Maybe because ginning up fear and resentment among today’s political Right is so profitable?
I guess we’ll never know…