Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 8 Episode 5
Aired on March 14, 2021
Main segment: Tucker Carlson
Other segments: American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Oprah with Meghan and Harry
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John: Hi there! Welcome to the show. Still, unfortunately, taking place in this blank void. Tomorrow is actually the void’s birthday. So, happy one year, void! I’ve never said this to a one-year-old before, but I sincerely hope you stop existing soon! It’s been a very busy week. We marked the anniversary of Chet Hanks telling us his parents were “not trippin” over their coronavirus diagnoses, a bidder spent nearly $70 million on a jpeg created by an artist called Beeple — a string of words that apparently make sense — and last Sunday, Meghan Markle and her unemployed husband opened up about racism in the royal family. It was an interview so shocking, it merited not one, not two, but three dramatic Oprah “what?”s, and of all the idiotic responses — from Megyn Kelly calling Markle defenders “paternalistic wokesters” to Piers Morgan walking off set — this was perhaps the boldest.
I would put it to you: nobody in the world, in history, has done more for people of color than the British royal family.
John: Wow. The word “for” there is the absolute worst preposition. Almost any other would be better. “Nobody in the world has done more to people of color than the British royal family?” Sure. “Nobody in the world has done more through people of color than the British royal family?” Absolutely. Even “nobody in the world has done more above people of color than the British royal family” would make more sense, and to illustrate that, I’m simply going to present this picture with no further commentary and you can tell me whether that sentence stands up or not. I would say that was the most ridiculous claim made this week, but here in New York, Governor Cuomo responded to the growing number of women accusing him of harassment — including a new incident that’s been referred to police — by calling a press conference to deny those claims, and speculating about why many in his party have called for his resignation.
Part of this is that I am not part of the political club. And you know what? I’m proud of it.
John: Yeah. That’s the former HUD secretary, former New York attorney general, current chair of the national governor’s association, and son of a three-term governor, claiming he’s not part of “the political club.” It’s like hearing David Miscavige say he’s not a part of the scientology club. Yes, you are. That’s obviously false, we know where his heart is, which is a lot more than we can say about his wife. Where’s Shelly, David? Where’s Shelly? I’m sure she’s fine. But the biggest news this week was the passage of the $1.9 trillion American rescue plan. The passing of it is a very big deal, as it involves — among other things — direct payments of $1400 to many Americans. Which is why it is so strange that the communications chair of the DNC decided to celebrate it by tweeting this.
Oh, hi. [“Silent night” plays] ♪ ♪
John: No. There is simply no thematic or conceptual reason to use that scene. Start with the fact that the video was posted on march 10th, and depending on which direction you’re going, that’s either 290 days before, or 75 days after Christmas. Also, why would either of these people care about the stimulus bill? They live in London! And who are they even meant to represent in regards to it? Are we supposed to be Kiera Knightly? Is this guy Nancy Pelosi? And if so, who is the husband in the other room we’re supposed to be hiding this interaction from? I mean, yeah, I’m pretty confident the elected official hounding a staffer is Andrew Cuomo, but other than that, nothing makes sense here. And the thing is, the content of this bill is really worth knowing about. Because while it doesn’t contain a $15 minimum wage and the stimulus payments are only $1400 instead of $2,000, there is still some good stuff in here. There’s money for schools and cities to handle the pandemic, extended unemployment benefits, and for most parents, there’s this.
Maybe most critical in here is the child tax credit. It’s a guaranteed income for the year for low-income families. Regular direct deposits from the government instead of a lump sum at tax time.
John: Yeah, it’s up to $3600 per child, which is huge. It’s currently just for the year, but it really should be permanent — experts say if that happens, it could actually cut child poverty by more than half. It’s potentially one of the most significant gains in the bill and it’s going to be a huge boost for parents, who frankly deserve it after spending the past year stuck in the same place with their kids 24 hours a day. I’m just saying, you try being body shamed by a five-year-old who keeps asking you why your arm hair grows all funky. It just does! I don’t know! It grows that way! You’re making me self-conscious about it! And while the passing of this bill might now seem inevitable, because it passed, and had 70% support from the American people, it only happened because the democrats won Georgia and now control the senate. And even then, they had to get parts of it past diet republicans Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Because republicans themselves were heavily against this.
This isn’t a rescue bill. It isn’t a relief bill. It’s a laundry list of left-wing priorities.
It is a trojan horse for socialism. It is everything democrats have wanted, wrapped and branded in coronavirus so that people are scared into voting for it.
This is a waste of money and a complete waste of time.
I think this is actually one of the worst pieces of legislation I’ve seen pass here in the time I’ve been in the senate.
John: What? I know you’ve been in the senate for 600 years, but giving struggling Americans barely enough rent money after a year of a fucking pandemic is one of the worst pieces of legislation that you have ever seen? Are you sure about that, mitch? Not the knee-jerk post-9/11 panic passing of the patriot act, or the 1986 drug bill that made a 100 to one sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine? Or even the joint resolution in 1987 designating a “national catfish day.” That was a total disgrace! Fuck you, catfish! Which are you — cat? Or fish? Pick a lane, you whiskery assholes! And look, it is not news that republicans would oppose this bill. What’s slightly more surprising is that some have had the gall to do things like this.
Shortly after the bill’s passage, republican senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi tweeted, “independent restaurant operators have won $28.6 billion worth of targeted relief.” Yet Wicker was one of 49 republican senators who voted no on Saturday.
John: Yeah, he did that. And you don’t get credit for something that everyone knows you didn’t want to happen. This exact same reason that Prince Charles doesn’t get to tweet “great interview, Oprah, you tell them, Meghan, #marklehive.” The fact is, this bill is going to help millions of Americans, and it’s worth remembering that every single republican opposed it. And if any of them ever come back around trying to take credit — to put this in the form that I guess political messages are delivered now — the response has to be simply this — Christmas music, please!
[“Silent night” plays]
Announcer: and now… Local news bothers 100-year-old women on their birthdays.
Do you have any advice?
Advice? Don’t take any baloney.
You are 100 today.
Don’t eat vegetables?
I don’t eat much candy. Well, I used to eat a lot of candy. No more now.
Eating correctly and behaving ourselves.
And a little better bourbon on the side, right?
Just be yourself. If they want to laugh at you, laugh back at them.
Is there anything that you are looking forward to in this next century of life?
You say you are a little tired this morning. Is that right?
I am tired.
Are you excited for your party?
Not one bit.
John: Moving on. Our main story tonight concerns — I’m sorry to say — Tucker Carlson. A man who gives “tuckers” an even worse name than they already have. This week, as he seems to every week, Tucker set off a bit of a firestorm.
So we’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits, pregnant women are gonna fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the U.S. military. While China’s military becomes more masculine, as it’s assembled the world’s largest navy, our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, more feminine — whatever feminine means anymore, since men and women no longer exist.
John: What are you talking about, you performatively outraged wedge salad? He’s packed a lot in there — from transphobia, to weirdly extolling the masculinity of China’s navy, to his completely misplaced outrage at Joe Biden over those flight suits, which were part of an initiative that started when Trump was president, and also included ensuring that body armor actually fits women service members, which is obviously a good idea. Those comments sparked an all-too-familiar cycle of condemnation, defensiveness, and hype. And it seems like every week, Tucker has another one of these mini-controversies. Last week it was the Dr. Seuss bullshit. And look, I’d love nothing more than not to play into his wildly offensive shtick. You might even be thinking, “why give him the attention that he’s so clearly trolling for?” But the fact is, we’re not giving Tucker any attention he’s not already getting a lot of. The night he made those flight suit remarks, he was the most watched show on cable. He averages over three million viewers a night, and does well in the key 25 to 54 demo — meaning young people are watching him, as well as the normal fox audience of retirees and their sad, imprisoned pets. He’s so important to the network, they’re expanding his presence — launching a new video podcast and long-form documentary series. And if that wasn’t enough, Tucker’s also been floated as a potential future presidential candidate, which should be seriously alarming, because of all the things Tucker is — a conspiracy theorist, a misogynist, islamophobic, a troll — one of the most dangerous is that he is the most prominent vessel in America for white supremacist talking points. And I already know what Tucker will say about this, because whenever the topic comes up, he has the same reaction: what does that even mean?
White nationalism. Let’s be literal for a minute. What is that exactly?
I don’t even know what white nationalist means and I’m not gonna go down that rabbit hole with you now.
Why doesn’t anyone ever define white supremacy? What is white supremacy?
Can somebody tell us in very clear language what a white supremacist is?
John: Okay, first: “very clear language” seems like a high bar to clear for a man who spends 85% of his time making the befuddled face of a 13th-century farmer learning about bitcoin. And I promise, we’re actually going to give Tucker a pretty clear definition of white supremacy later in this piece. And he seems to need one, because whenever he tries to define it himself, it tends to be self-servingly narrow.
This show was not on the air for six months before there was an organized and highly aggressive campaign by prominent democrats to denounce us as white supremacist. The first time it happened, the people who work on this show, many of them kids, were shocked and horrified by that. White supremacists? What’s worse than that? The phrase evokes images of burning crosses and lynchings. It’s awful.
John: Okay, first, I’m so sorry, Tucker. I didn’t realize your show was staffed entirely by children. I never intended for them to get caught up in this. So my sincere apologies, you tiny little rascals. But “I don’t burn crosses or lynch people, so I can’t be a white supremacist” is a pretty weak argument. It’s like saying “I can’t be an anti-semite because I didn’t do the holocaust” or I can’t be a sexual predator because I didn’t produce “good will hunting.” There is more than one way to be a terrible person. And Tucker — conveniently for him — doesn’t fit neatly into a lot of people’s perception of “white supremacist.” Especially if they share his definition, that it must require burning crosses, klan hoods, and a name tag that says “hello, my name is a racist.” You might even have friends who think, “Tucker can’t be racist. I’ve never heard him say the “n-word,” as if that is the fucking bar. But for the record: white supremacists themselves seem to be big fans of what Tucker’s been doing. Just listen to Derek Black, a former white supremacist whose father started stormfront — the oldest, largest white supremacist site on the internet — talk about just how much his family likes Tucker’s show.
Derek Black: My family watches Tucker Carlson’s show once and then watches it on the replay because they feel that he is making the white nationalist talking points better than they have. And they’re trying to get some tips on how to — how to advance it.
John: Yeah. They watch it once to enjoy it, and a second time to learn from it. They watch Tucker the same way I watch “The Drew Barrymore Show.” First time for fun, second to figure out how she can successfully pull off a segment in which a child makes a Shirley Temple while Stanley Tucci quietly drinks an entire glass of wine on a screen in the background. I don’t know how you work your magic, drew, but I want to learn. You’re advancing this form! So given that Tucker has the admiration of white supremacists, and the ear of millions of your relatives, coworkers, and elected officials, we thought, tonight, it’d be worth talking about him — where he came from, what his tactics are, and why what he represents is so dangerous. And let’s start with some back story. Tucker grew up in La Jolla, California, where his dad married an heiress to the Swanson tv dinner fortune. Which is already interesting. Because if Tucker’s got sad ’70s single man frozen food money, that means he’s been doing groundbreaking shows like “cuckolding is when a humiliated man watches his wife have an affair” for the love of the game. To hear Tucker tell it, he grew up in a simpler, better time. He once wistfully claimed, “racial solidarity wasn’t a working concept in my Southern-California hometown. Most people barely had last names, much less ethnic identities.” Which is a pretty weird thing to say if your full name is Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson, and your ethnic identity can best be described as “my brother’s name is Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson.” The only way he could get any more ethnically white is if he jizzed mayonnaise. As a child, Tucker was sent to boarding school, where he promptly did two things: fail to impress any number of prestigious universities and start dating the headmaster’s daughter, a headmaster who in return, arranged to get him into trinity college. He then became a print journalist, reportedly after his father told him that journalism will “take anybody.” Which, to his dad’s credit, did kind of turn out to be true. Tucker’s leap to tv, though, came as an accident — supposedly, back in the ’90s, Dan Rather’s show called the magazine where Tucker was working, looking for somebody to talk about the O.J. trial. And the receptionist there told him, “everyone else is still at lunch. Can you do it?” Which might be the single whitest origin story I have ever heard. “Hey, you! Yeah, you with the skin and face! We’ve got an extra career lying around. Are you interested?” But despite his total lack of preparation, Tucker was almost immediately hitting on themes that he’d be echoing for the next 25 years. Because here’s one of his very first tv appearances, in the aftermath of the O.J. verdict.
Let me ask you, Mr. Carlson, do you think we’re honest with each other?
Oh, no, of course not. I mean, you know, everybody is terrified of — of one thing. You know, whites are, of course, terrified of being called a racist. Blacks are terrified of being belittled. Of course. I — I — I think we need — actually probably less conversation about race. I think it might do us good were we to ignore the subject a little bit and treat each other as if there were no color boundary separating us. I think that might be helpful. I think we talk about it in some ways too much.
John: Okay, first, I’m pretty sure black people are less terrified of being “belittled” than of being killed, jailed, economically exploited, or indeed, denied access to healthcare after their heads literally explode from hearing someone in a bow tie and plaid blazer suggest being called racist is as bad as actually experiencing racism. Although, I do want to quickly come back to that specific bow tie. Because, look, I’m not knocking bow ties in general. They’re perfectly fine for a child attending his first communion, or a Hanna-Barbera animator who can’t draw necks — but that bow tie is too small. Either commit to it or don’t, Tucker. Don’t just put on a tiny one and hope no one notices. Now, from there, Tucker bounced around a bit, with canceled shows on both CNN and MSNBC. Although in his time at CNN, he did manage to produce — and I don’t say this lightly — the most 2003 clip of all time.
You worked with Pepsi for a long time. Candidly, just between you and me, how much Pepsi do you think you drink on an average day?
I really do like Pepsi.
I really do.
What’s your favorite kind?
My favorite kind of Pepsi? Pepsi’s Pepsi.
Well, you don’t drink diet Pepsi or —
No, just — just reg — just reg — regular Pepsi.
John: Look, I cannot stress this enough: leave Britney alone! Don’t do gotcha journalism about her Pepsi consumption — not only has she been through a lot, she’s a stone cold legend. She’s the definitional diva of the 2000s, and I guarantee you: there isn’t a human being on earth who doesn’t perk up when that violin hook from “toxic” comes on. ♪ ♪ Exactly! Put some motherfucking respect on her name, Tucker, and — of course — #freebritney. And while Tucker eventually failed upwards into a primetime Fox show in 2016, the fascinating thing is, if you go back and watch his earlier clips, you can see him learning the tricks of his trade, right in front of you. Watch him talk about Pat Buchanan — the republican fire-brand and noted anti-immigrant crusader — and break down one of Buchanan’s go-to moves, with the precision of a dedicated student.
I mean, Pat does raise issues that I think are important. Unfortunately, Pat Buchanan raises them in a way that I think is discredited and when attacked, he can always fall back on the line, “well, the — you know, the tiny cabal that controls American politics doesn’t like me because I speak truth to power.” This is actually incidentally almost verbatim what he said the other day, “that I offend the plutocracy, that I’m a wanted man by the inside the beltway people,” and in every sense, cast himself as a — as a victim who was sort of a Karen Silkwood of politics, someone who’s so truthful that he’s being hunted down by the — by the conspiracy that runs Washington. I mean, it’s all a bit much.
John: Yeah, you’re right, Tucker — it is! And that is actually a pretty salient point, it’s just incredibly hard to take, given who’s making it. In the same way it would be hard to listen to a lecture on gun safety and overall life choices from tekashi69. I don’t care how good your advice is. I’m not taking it from you. Because “the tiny cabal that controls American politics doesn’t like me because I speak truth to power” is now Tucker’s signature move. He does it all the time, whenever he’s criticized. A few years ago, he lost advertisers after saying, and I quote, that immigrants make our country “poorer and dirtier and more divided.” And this is how he fired back.
Those who won’t shut up get silenced. You’ve seen it a million times. It happens all the time. The enforcers scream, “racist,” on twitter until everybody gets intimidated. It’s a tactic, a well-worn one. Nobody thinks it’s real. And it won’t work with this show. We’re not intimidated. We plan to try to say what’s true until the last day. And the truth is unregulated mass immigration has badly hurt this country’s natural landscape.
John: Oh, fuck off, Tucker, you relentlessly indignant picket fence. How did you go from criticizing Pat Buchanan for that precise tactic to basically imitating him? It’s all — to borrow a phrase — “a bit much.” But that technique gets to the absolute heart of Tucker’s show: so often, he positions himself as someone just asking the hard questions — the ones that “they” don’t want you asking. Questions like, “is affirmative action racist?” And “should America be selective with immigrants?” And “has the democratic party become anti-white and anti-male?” Just asking questions, while heavily implying that the answer to those questions is yes. But when, in turn, anyone questions him, they’re not just censoring free speech, they’re launching an attack on the foundations of our democracy, and the vast working class who this humble tv dinner prince somehow represents. And the most telling thing about Tucker’s framing of himself as the scourge of the elites and the hero of the common man is that, for Tucker, who constitutes “the common man” is very selective. Take Ilhan Omar. Just watch him lose his shit over a clip he’s about to play of something she said.
If anyone should love America, it’s Ilhan Omar. This country rescued her from a squalid Kenyan refugee camp and made her a national figure, quite an ascent. But Ilhan Omar is not grateful. She hates us for it. Watch Omar tell us it is time to dismantle our country.
As long as our economy and political systems prioritize profit without considering who is profiting, who is being shut out, we will perpetuate this inequality. So we cannot stop at criminal justice system. We must begin the work of dismantling the whole system of oppression wherever we find it.
Dismantle the American economy and the American system of government, institutions that generations of Americans built over hundreds of years.
John: All right, there is already enough there in the sneering condescension that Ilhan Omar should be quietly grateful her entire life because she was granted asylum when she was a child. But let’s just consider the vast distance between what you just heard her say and what he seemed to hear. Because according to Tucker, dismantling the system of oppression means dismantling the entire American economy and system of government. Now, did he inadvertently make a nuanced point about how systemic oppression is definitionally baked into every level and facet of that very same system? Yes, yes he did. Am I going to give him credit for doing that? Fuck no! Especially not when this is what he said next:
The problem is, there are many of us here who do like this country. We live here. We don’t want to destroy it. We have every right to fight to preserve our nation and our heritage and our culture.
John: Wow, “preserve our heritage and culture.” That is direct. In fact, his pre-written caption there — “we have to fight to preserve our nation and heritage” drew a lot of comparisons to the “fourteen words,” the famous white supremacist slogan that says, “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” And when you put the two together, there is, y’know, a slight similarity there. I’m just saying — if you typed Tucker’s quote into a blank word document, nine times out of ten, Clippy is going to ask “are you trying to recite the fourteen words?” Of course, Clippy’s been asking that a lot more ever since he started spending so much time on YouTube. Careful how much time you spend on there, Clippy, it’s turning you into an asshole. And if you’re thinking, “well, come one, that seems like a stretch. You can’t know what Tucker means by “our heritage and culture,” you should know that he hasn’t always been that disciplined about messaging. In the late 2000s, he used to call into a radio show hosted by shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge. And in those calls, the thin veil covering his racism would occasionally thrown off, in moments like this.
Iraq is a crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know —
Semi-literate primitive monkeys. But I just have zero sympathy for them or their culture. A culture where people just don’t use toilet paper or forks.
John: Okay. That isn’t just incredibly offensive. It’s also the kind of fact-free cultural hot take that is the essential Tucker Carlson experience, because while it is clearly by no means the most important thing there, for the record: table forks were apparently first used in the middle east and byzantine empire, and were still “conspicuously absent” in Europe until centuries later. In fact, when the niece of a byzantine emperor brought a case of forks to Venice for her wedding feast in the eleventh century, she was “roundly condemned by the local clergy for her decadence,” with one saying, “god in his wisdom has provided man with natural forks: his fingers. Therefore, it is an insult to him to substitute artificial metal forks for them when eating.” Which is absolutely fascinating. Because it’s not just a full refutation of Tucker’s lazy racism, it’s also a very fun fork fact.
John: Fork facts are fun! The point is, when you know how Tucker speaks when he speaks freely, the filter through which he processes the world for his audience becomes painfully apparent. Because he’s smart enough not to openly say into a camera that certain races are more deserving of scorn, or less worthy of respect. He will just heavily imply that, depending on who he’s talking about. Take the capitol riots. Tucker said that he deplored the violence, but repeatedly compelled his viewers to try and understand where the people demonstrators were coming from.
On January 6th, we had a riot at the U.S. Capitol. Why did that happen? It happened because millions of American voters were convinced that the last election was not fair. Where did they get that idea? Well, it wasn’t simply because the last president told them so, you’re hearing that now as if they are animals who take commands and do what they’re told, but they’re not animals. They are people. They are American citizens who can see what’s happening and come to their own conclusions about it. They saw the radical increase in mail-in voting, millions did, and it corroded their faith and the public’s faith in our systems of election.
John: Okay, hold on. People didn’t think the election was rigged because they saw an “increase in mail-in voting.” They thought that because people like you repeatedly told them the election was rigged. And that plea for understanding there is especially hard to take when you contrast it with how he reacted to last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.
People like this don’t bother to work. They don’t volunteer or pay taxes to help other people. They live for themselves. They do exactly what they feel like doing. They say exactly what they feel like saying. They spray paint their opinions on buildings. On television, hour by hour, we watch these people, criminal mobs, destroy what the rest of us have built. They have no right to do that. They don’t contribute to the common good. They never have. Yet, suddenly they seem to have all the power.
John: Well, that’s quite a different tone. And it is interesting to see who gets to be “American citizens who came to their own conclusions,” and who gets to be “criminal mobs who destroy what the rest of us have built.” And it does seem like the dividing line for Tucker on that question is, “how easily can you sunburn?” And look, my point here isn’t that Tucker is inconsistent, in addressing two violent protests in vastly different ways. It’s that he’s actually incredibly consistent, because in both instances, his clear takeaway is that white people should be terrified at the idea of any situation where they aren’t in power. The main narrative of Tucker’s show is that power is being taken away from “you,” his viewer — and that this needs to be resisted. He’s run segments — just asking questions, remember — like, “how exactly is diversity our strength?” And has argued not just that it isn’t, but that it’s a “threat to our existence as a cohesive country.” In fact, he’ll often call to resist that threat with an interesting choice of phrase.
Western civilization is our birthright. It makes all good things possible. Undefended, it collapses. And so we’ve got to fight to preserve it.
It’s a war, with one side trying to erase all remnants of its opponent. In this case, western civilization.
Is the culture into which they’re coming, the western civilization we’re talking about, superior to the culture that these immigrants are bringing?
Do you think it’s possible to move a large Muslim population into the west and successfully integrate them into western culture? Have you seen that anywhere?
John: Yeah, for Tucker, it seems western civilization is somehow both the mighty and essential bedrock on which all modern human existence is built, and also, a delicate house of cards that will collapse if you so much as look at it wrong. And again, he’ll be careful not to verbally link race and civilization, like he’s calling in to a Love Sponge’s radio show in 2006. But he will occasionally dance incredibly close to it.
Let me just stipulate. I am for getting along. I am for colorblindness, I’m for tolerance, 100%. But I also think that if things radically change in your country, it’s okay for you to say, what is this, and maybe I don’t want to live in a country that looks nothing like the country I grew up in. Is that bigoted?
John: Uh, yeah. Yeah, it is. That’s like saying, “I’ve got ten fingers and toes, a pointy face with a little pink rosebud mouth, a cat-sized body, a long weird tail, and I eat garbage. Does that make me a possum?” Yes! Yes, it does! That’s the literal definition of the thing you just described! And that is the whole thing with Tucker. He might not say “black” or “white,” he’ll insist he’s “for colorblindness,” he’ll build in deniability by phrasing things as a question — like, what does racism look like? While kind of embodying the answer. But when you put all of this together, the pattern is clear: he’s scared of a country that “looks nothing like the one he grew up in,” because diversity isn’t our strength, immigrants make our country poorer, dirtier, and more divided, and any attempt to change that culture is an attack on western civilization. All of which is a long way of saying that when Tucker asks, “what is white supremacy?” The answer is basically that. It’s a belief that, in a country where white people are dominant, that’s all down to their natural and innate abilities, and any effort to change that is an affront to the natural order of things. So it’s frankly no wonder that guy’s family watches Tucker twice a night. Of course Tucker’s been endorsed by white supremacists. James Allsup — a far-right activist who marched in Charlottesville — once said this to a conference room full of fellow white supremacists.
James Allsup: An example of someone engaging in very effective rhetoric is, of course, Tucker Carlson. Tucker is helping mainstream conservatives change the way they think about politics and causing a massive swath of Trump voters to look deeper into many of the issues that we already talk about. The left is aware of what he’s doing and he’s aware of what he’s doing, so it works phenomenally. [Laughter]
John: Oh, that might be the single worst laugh I’ve ever heard. And I say that as someone who’s almost forgotten what human laughter sounds like. I’ve been stuck inside Casper’s asshole for 12 long months now, and I’m so desperate to hear the response of a live audience, but if it’s neo-nazi chuckles, pingponging off the walls of a hotel ballroom, I think I might be out. And look, if everything I’ve shown you somehow still isn’t enough — let’s hear from a literal former grand wizard of white supremacists, David Duke. He’s not only tweeted approvingly about Tucker in the past, saying, “Tucker is right!” And “can’t cuck the tuck!” — Which, as all Tucker viewers know, refers to when a humiliated man watches his wife have an affair. Duke even has a podcast, where he sometimes just recaps Tucker’s segments from the night before. Last year, when endorsing Trump for president, he even suggested that Tucker Carlson should be his V.P., explaining Tucker’s value to the white supremacist cause like this.
He doesn’t use the word “white” very often, but that’s the underlying message that he’s showing. And he shows that there is massive racism in America against white people, while at the same time saying there’s no systematic racism. But people get the message.
John: Yeah, people do get the message. Although, to be fair, it’s not like it’s written in a complex code. It’s a walking yacht club scrunching his face up for an hour every night and saying to a conservative audience “they” are coming for “you” in modulating tones. We’re not exactly in riddle of the sphinx territory here. And all of this is why — as tempting as it is to dismiss the controversy that follows Tucker every week as one more artifact of our outrage culture — it’s important to remember that what Tucker is saying is fucking outrageous. Because no one in their right mind would sit down, pop in their headphones, fire up David Duke’s podcast and think, “hey, I’m not a white supremacist.” But millions of people watch Tucker on tv every night, spouting well-laundered versions of pretty much the same talking points, and there is real harm in that. Because while white supremacy is clearly dangerous when promoted by self-avowed white supremacists, it can actually be even more dangerous when it isn’t. And what Tucker Carlson’s show sells — in addition to utterly terrible pillows — is very seductive. It’s the idea this country is fundamentally color-blind, that anyone who mentions race is just trying to start trouble, that historic oppression is no longer relevant, and that in fact, you, his viewers, are the ones currently being oppressed. And if he can sell his audience on his white identity politics, if he can persuade them that the big existential threat to America right now is diversity, it sort of doesn’t matter if he says aloud what his preferred solutions to that might be. And while it’s bad enough to hear that white supremacist families gather round to watch Tucker twice, the fact is, millions of viewers a night watch him once, and once is already more than enough. And now this.
Announcer: and now… A look back at one year of tv news with pandemic precautions.
You may have noticed something a little different about tonight’s newscast.
Like many of you, everyone at CBS 17 is practicing social distancing.
We are standing 6 feet apart on the set.
This is 6 feet right here.
It feels like I have to shout out you know.
We have microphones and we don’t.
I’m coming to you live this morning for my own home.
You look great sitting there set up at a studio at home.
Olivia is calling. Somebody answer Olivia.
We can say hi.
Were going to go ahead and apologize. My Alexa is going off. Alexa come off.
The downstream effect is playing out across the system. I’m sorry, you are hearing my dog bark at the mailman.
It’s been a week, this is the cat, that’s the perks of working from home.
The maps aren’t going to move because he whacked the computer with his head. Let me verbalize the forecast.
62 In Pasadena. We’ll talk about the storm. He walks now, guys. I’ve lost all control. Sorry. Yeah. You can have biscuits. [Kyle young]
Sorry about that.
Run to the supreme court as they have indicated, clearly, that has failed. They have refused to interview and ultimately those ballots will be counted.
John: That’s our show. Thank you so much for watching. See you next week. Good night!