New Yorker: Profile on Tucker Carlson

In The New Yorker, the decidedly non-white Kelefa Sanneh profiles Tucker Carlson (“Tucker Carlson’s Fighting Words”).

I chuckled at this disclosure of cuck empathy by a Weekly Standard hack:

Part of the appeal of Carlson’s show is its tendency to generate knockouts rather than split decisions. His unofficial Reddit page features pictures of guests judged to have performed especially poorly; over each face is written “Wasted,” the word that signals total collapse in the Grand Theft Auto video games. Andrew Ferguson, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, remembers once marvelling at Carlson’s ability to turn out well-wrought magazine prose, but he is not a fan of the show. “He’s on a network that I think is kind of disreputable, and I think he’s better than that,” Ferguson says. “To me, it’s just cringe-making. You get some poor little columnist from the Daily Oregonian who said Trump was Hitler, and you beat the shit out of him for ten minutes.”

Of his relatively early (for the pundit class) embrace of Trump as a disruptive force:

In January, 2016, Carlson wrote an essay for Politico in which he suggested that Trump was “the ideal candidate to fight Washington corruption” (because “he has personally participated in it”) and was more likely than any of his rivals to defeat Hillary Clinton. The Great Recession had reminded Carlson that capitalism could be destructive, and that markets could not be counted upon to cure ills like rural unemployment—at least, not quickly enough to help the working-class men who were drifting out of the workforce. He was influenced, too, by talking to people in Maine, where he spends his summers (in the rural northeast of the state, he is quick to add, not on the wealthy coastline). “It changed my politics more than anything,” he says. “It’s a disaster. No one gets married.” Carlson has carefully positioned himself as not uniformly pro-Trump, but certainly anti-anti-Trump—scornful of all the experts who were sure that the Trump Presidency would be a catastrophe, and who think that they have already been proved right…

Carlson has long believed that America’s immigration policies are too lax, and his show provides near-nightly support for the view, central to Trump’s agenda, that unchecked immigration has increased crime and unemployment…

In his view, American immigration policy has been distorted by “virtue-signalling”: the tendency, particularly prominent among élites, to propound dubious ideas as a form of moral preening. “It’s like, ‘We’re good people. We do certain things as expressions of our goodness.’ ”

The piece then delves into standard bio mode:

“Old money” describes Carlson’s aesthetic but not, exactly, his circumstances. His father, Richard Carlson, couldn’t afford college, so he enlisted in the Marines, and then forged an eventful career in journalism, working in California as a reporter and as a television anchor. (In a 1976 local-news report, he outed the tennis player Renée Richards, who had recently transitioned from male to female.) Tucker Carlson grew up with his brother in La Jolla, nurturing a rebellious streak that he never turned against his father, perhaps because his father shared it, and perhaps because he had no one else. His mother, a bohemian, left the family when he was six and ultimately settled in France; the boys never saw her again. “Totally bizarre situation—which I never talk about, because it was actually not really part of my life at all,” Carlson says. In 1979, the year Carlson turned ten, his father married Patricia Swanson, of the frozen-food Swansons. Richard Carlson had a job in banking by then, and eventually moved to Washington, where he secured a series of Republican political appointments: he ran Voice of America, served as Ambassador to the Seychelles, and was the president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting…

Carlson was fourteen when he was sent to boarding school; one classmate describes him as resembling a beach boy teleported in from nineteen-fifties California. The school had an after-dinner debating society, which Carlson came to dominate: an eloquent young man with an elephant poster in his room who was happy to tell liberal teachers exactly why they were wrong. He started dating Susie Andrews, the daughter of the Reverend George Andrews, the headmaster. This connection came in handy during Carlson’s senior year, when, having spent more time debating than studying, he failed to impress any number of prestigious universities. The Reverend Andrews arranged for him to attend Trinity College, in Hartford.

Carlson was, by all accounts, a lousy student, and he now takes pleasure in declaring college overrated. But he was evidently assiduous in his courtship of Susie, whom he married when he was a college senior, and whom he credits with leading him to take faith seriously. (They are Episcopalians, and Carlson loves the liturgy, though he abhors the liberals who run the denomination. The Church is part of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, while Carlson is utterly opposed to abortion—it is just about the only political issue he considers nonnegotiable.) After college, he tried and failed to persuade the C.I.A. to employ him; the real-life agency, unlike its fictional counterparts, prefers not to hire young men who are gabby and insubordinate. Instead, he got a job in Little Rock, working for Paul Greenberg, the exacting editorial-page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

It was another writing job that made Carlson famous: he was hired, in 1995, to write for the newly founded Weekly Standard, which was published by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation…

 Of the Alt Right’s affinity for Tucker:

 These days, Carlson is adored by precisely the people who might once have dismissed him as a twerpy avatar of establishment Republicanism. Johnson, the former Daily Caller freelancer, suggests that Carlson has long been more of a political insurgent than many people recognized. “He understood that there was something stirring in the psyche and the mind of Republicans and conservatives,” Johnson says. “I think Tucker, like Trump, represents the return of the alpha white male to our politics.” Online, Carlson has been given a very unofficial slogan: “You can’t cuck the Tuck.” The phrase refers to the term “cuckservative,” a mocking description of conservatives who are too weak to defend their own ideology, the same way a cuckold is said to be unable to defend his own wife. The term also has a racial connotation, derived from a pornographic subgenre in which a man, often white, watches his wife have sex with an interloper, who is often black. “You can’t cuck the Tuck” is, among other things, a way of affirming that Carlson is a white guy who isn’t afraid to stand up for himself.

Certainly Carlson himself would never put it that way, but part of his appeal is his unwillingness to apologize for who he is: he expresses no uneasiness about being a straight white man, even when he is debating gender identity with a transgender activist, or sparring about race with the African-American liberal commentator Jehmu Greene, who is a frequent guest. For Carlson, as for Trump, there is virtually no issue more salient than immigration—Carlson loves to trip up pro-immigration advocates by demanding that they explain exactly how many immigrants the country should admit, and why.

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