Tucker Carlson, Fear, and Loathing in the United States

Have we simply gone mad?

Dr. Errington Thompson is a critical care trauma surgeon, author, and talk show host. Listen to the Errington Thompson Show, available through Podcast and download at: www.whereistheoutrage.net
by Errington C. Thompson, MD –

Are we merely in some weird sci-fi movie in which everybody has lost their marbles?

A couple of weeks ago, a family was playing basketball, and the basketball rolled into a neighbor’s yard. The neighbor took a firearm and fired at the girl and her parents.

Then, in upstate New York, a group of girls, teenagers, were looking for a friend’s house. They drove into the wrong driveway. The homeowner began firing at the car, striking and killing the driver.

In Kansas City, a young Black boy walked up to a door and rang the doorbell. He was looking for his brother. Unfortunately, he was at the wrong house. The owner opened the door and shot the young man in the head. While the man was on the ground, he shot him again in the arm. By some miracle the boy survived.

On the one hand, you could easily say that these were all isolated incidents. They had nothing to do with each other. America is a big place. We have over 330 million people in the United States. Yet all of these incidents, and more, are related. These men—all three of the shooters were men—were primed and ready. They knew exactly what they were doing. They’ve been repeatedly told that “everyone is out to get them.” Elites are stealing their power. Immigrants are trying to replace them. They have to fight for what is theirs. They have to “Stand Their Ground.”

The Most Dangerous Man in America

Tucker Carlson is a failed news anchor. He has been kicked off of CNN as well as MSNBC. Yet, he landed a prime-time spot on Fox News. Tucker Carlson looks innocent enough with his doughy face and frequent boyish bowties. His innocent appearance, along with his “we’re just asking questions” approach, has allowed audiences to be sucked in. Once you are sucked into that vortex, you can easily be hooked.

Tucker Carlson will tell you that he is in your corner, that he is fighting for you. He assures you he is telling you the truth that nobody else will. He is the champion for the “legacy Americans.” (Yes, this is a term that Tucker Carlson has adopted from white supremacy websites. Legacy Americans. He is saying “white Americans” without being overtly racist.)

Several years ago, Tucker Carlson got into hot water while explaining his replacement theory. He stated that the Democrats wanted more immigration to get a docile population that would blindly vote for Democrats and replace white Americans. This would lead to democratic power forever. This white “replacement theory” comes directly from white supremacy websites. It is nuts. It has no basis in reality, but that doesn’t stop Tucker Carlson or the white supremacists from repeating this nonsense over and over again.

Tucker Carlson became the most-watched cable news show of all time by stoking the fears and anger of baby boomers. At no point does he ever tell his audience that there is nothing to be afraid of. Instead, he always gives them something to be angry about or fearful of. He always gives them a reason to explain why their life hasn’t turned out as great as they hoped. He always gives them somebody to blame. Whether it is Black Lives Matter or greedy immigrants at the border, or Democrats coming to take your guns, Tucker Carlson always, always gives his viewers a target for their anger.

Early in the Ukrainian war, Tucker Carlson went on a unique rant. He asked his audience why Washington elites have told them they should hate Vladimir Putin. What did Vladimir Putin ever do to them? Did Putin give their hard-earned tax dollars to unworthy welfare recipients? Did Putin force them to accept woke ideology? Of course not: it was the Democrats, especially Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, doing those things to them.

Then, Tucker Carlson flipped to the other side and stated that we had no reason to support Ukraine, the country “that gave Joe Biden’s family millions of dollars.” Sure, there were lies and falsehoods in Tucker Carlson’s rant. There always are. At no point did Tucker Carlson ever state that Vladimir Putin has killed hundreds, if not thousands, of his countrymen. He never said that Vladimir Putin invaded Crimea for no good reason other than he wanted to. He never told his audience that Ukraine was a young, fledgling democracy like our country was more than 250 years ago.

But the fact is, Ukraine was a sovereign country invaded by Russia—by Vladimir Putin—because he thought he could. He thought he could take over a sovereign European country and the rest of the world would sit by and watch. He thought Donald Trump had gutted NATO so thoroughly that it wouldn’t do a thing. He even thought Joe Biden would behave the way Donald Trump behaved.

Thousands of Ukrainians have died because Russia wanted to take the land and resources of Ukraine, but Tucker Carlson left all of this out. Instead, he painted Vladimir Putin as some friend of the United States. Here’s a fact check: Neither Carlson nor Putin is a friend of the United States.

After losing a $787-million-dollar defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, Fox News has fired Tucker Carlson. Finally. Now we are left to contemplate his legacy.

We need to understand that, as humans, we are susceptible to certain types of persuasion. We are emotional beings. Looking back through history, the most persuasive speakers were probably the most passionate. I have mentioned this before, but the more emotional we get, the less logical we become. We shut down our logic centers. We begin to switch on our fight-or-flight response.

This is what Tucker Carlson excelled at. He would lay down a series of statements designed to get an emotional reaction from you, the viewer.

Tucker Carlson is not good for the United States. He is not good for democracy. He is not good for our politics, our policies, or our citizens.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that Congress can rein in this chaos. Germany has done so. They have passed laws that make it illegal to spew inflammatory rhetoric. We don’t have the political will for Congress to pass the laws necessary to curb inflammatory speech. Even if Congress passed such a law, I suspect the Supreme Court would strike it down as unconstitutional. None of us should be surprised when Fox News finds another talking head who can use sociological triggers to tap into white resentment, white hatred, and white fear, just like Tucker Carlson did.

Emmett Till

Carolyn Bryant, the white woman at the center of the Emmett Till case, has died. For those who don’t recall, or are too young to know, let me quickly recap one of the most brutal, most racially motivated murders of the 20th century.

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago who was visiting Mississippi relatives. It was 1955. He walked into a grocery store. What happened next is open to debate. Whether he whistled or cat-called or made some offensive utterance is unclear. Whether he grabbed Mrs. Bryant, who was 21 years old at the time, by the wrist or by the waist is also unclear. Emmett Till was found four days later brutally beaten; one of his eyes was gouged out, and he was swollen beyond recognition after being found in a nearby river.

His mother insisted on an open-casket funeral, highlighting the brutality and the senselessness of his killing. This is one of the pivotal murders that galvanized the civil rights movement in the mid-1950s.

Roy Bryant (husband of Carolyn Bryant) and J.W. Milam were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury. Within a year, they sold their story to Look magazine, in which they stated that they had assaulted Emmett Till, but they denied killing him. Over the next 50 or 60 years, Carolyn Bryant changed her story several times.

We may never know exactly what happened in that grocery store, but we know a few things. A 14-year-old Black teenager would never walk into a store in Mississippi and start whistling at a white woman unless he had a death wish. This is a fact. Whether he grew up in Chicago, New York, Baltimore, or the Jim Crow South doesn’t matter.

Second, there is no way that Emmett Till grabbed the arm, wrist, or waist of Carolyn Bryant. It just didn’t happen. According to Emmett’s mother, Emmett Till had a speech impediment. He had trouble pronouncing certain words. She taught him to whistle quietly to get through the stuttering. Now, it’s quite possible that Carolyn Bryant heard some stutter, which she misinterpreted. But I think it is clear that she started a cascade of events that still resonate today. I think it’s clear that she said something to her husband that got Emmett Till killed.

I believe this is the exact type of history that needs to be taught in our schools. We need to learn from our past. We need to understand that we could be better. We must understand that we have a complex, sordid past with racial issues. We need to talk about these issues. We need to get them out in the open. There are lessons that everybody can learn from this. By learning from our mistakes, we become a better nation. Isn’t that what we want? Do we want to be a better nation? I know I want to live in a country that wants to get better every day.

NC Supreme Court

In what can only be described as a blatantly partisan move, the North Carolina Supreme Court decided to weigh in on the state’s gerrymandered 2020 district maps. These are the same maps that were ruled unconstitutional just a couple of months ago by the same North Carolina Supreme Court. Now, they, because of the new Republican majority, have looked at these maps again and ruled that these discriminatory maps are just fine after all. I’m unsure if North Carolina is the home of gerrymandering, but I know these maps are ridiculous. Since 2010, Democrats and the Tarheel state have suffered because of persistently manipulated voting maps. It is one of the main reasons that we have a Democratic governor and a House and Senate that are controlled by the GOP. It is wrong.

Jean Carroll

Ms. Carroll says that Donald Trump assaulted her in the mid-1990s. She sued Trump for defamation after he repeatedly called her a liar, a “madwoman,” and other demeaning (and false) terms. Her trial has ended, after she spent the entire first and second day of it on the witness stand undergoing misogynist cross-examination.

So far, there is nothing that is surprising. Did Trump assault Ms. Carroll? I think that the answer is yes. [So did the jury, finding Trump liable and awarding Ms. Carroll $5 million for sexual assault and nine other charges. Ed.]

I think that the one lesson that we should have taken from the #MeToo movement is that we need to believe women. We know powerful men have taken advantage of their position and preyed on women. Period. We know this. And now we know Trump did, too.

Prisons, Parole

So what is the purpose of prisons? Is it to keep us safe from dangerous criminals? Is it to punish those who have broken the law? Is it vengeance for the victims and their families? (Let’s hope it is not about vengeance. I don’t think the state should never ever be in the revenge business.) When you begin to think deeply about these questions, it is hard to figure out the exact purpose of our prison system.

What about parole? When should someone get paroled? Shouldn’t everyone be eligible for parole after some period of time? The simple answer would be that everyone should get out of jail when they no longer pose a threat or will no longer break the law.

How can we determine that someone is no longer a problem? We know that past behavior cannot predict future behavior. So how can someone rationally make the argument that someone should be let out of prison? It seems like parole boards would only get into trouble when a parolee breaks the law. So why would they let anyone out, ever?

The incentives seem to be to keep a prisoner locked up forever. Also, if we are a product of our environment and someone is released into a crime-ridden neighborhood, aren’t we setting this person up to fail? Shouldn’t we release these Americans into a situation where they are set up to succeed? Every prisoner would need a place to live in a decent neighborhood. They would need a decent job that pays a living wage. Right?

The more I think about this, the worse my headache gets. What are we doing?

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden has announced that he is running for president in 2024. This should not be a surprise to anyone. He has brought some normalcy to the presidency. He has steered the economy through a terrible period. He has gotten us out of the Covid cycle. We have finally left Afghanistan after years and years and years of war. We are doing the right thing by supporting Ukraine, and we are moving toward a policy to seriously combat climate change. We are on the right track.

I support Joe.


NOTE: The views and opinions expressed here, as well as assertions of facts, are those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of The Urban News.