Tucker Carlson is Manipulating You

Edda Bortel-Fielder, Staff Writer

Tucker Carlson was unceremoniously dropped from Fox News on Monday, April 24. Although his future is unknown, he has been one of the most influential right-wing figures today.

Why is Tucker so popular? Simply, Carlson fuels the fire of conservatives who feel they’ve lost something, that every action of the left constitutes an attack; he embodies and validates the idea of victimhood, or in this case, false victimhood.

To Carlson, this perceived persecution persists in many forms. From comparing vaccine mandates to “the imperial Japanese army and the Nazis”, to warning his audience that transgender “seem to be mad specifically at traditional Christians”, to promoting the “white genocide” theory (the idea that immigration by people of color and promotion of multiculturalism are a deliberate ploy to destroy the “white race”), Carlson always frames events in a way that victimize his audience.

“He makes everything that is a small issue a big problem. He always makes sure the blame is not on the white Christian,” says Alex Wood, 25’. In 2021, researchers from the University of London’s Psychology Department conducted a study that identified this phenomenon plaguing certain conservatives as a result of collective narcissism, or “[the] belief that the national in-group’s exaggerated greatness is insufficiently recognized by others.” According to the findings, collective narcissism “expresses concerns over the national ingroup losing what it was entitled to have: the recognition of its supremacy and admiration of others.”

Rev. Ashley Horan, Organizing Strategy Director at the Unitarian Universalist Association, explains this phenomenon. “Disaffected white Christian conservatives are being told that there was a “Great America” of the past, in which people like them could thrive, but there are all these groups coming to snatch that away from them,” she said. “The myth of scarcity is weaponized to suggest that if “those people” get what they want, [white male] Christians will be rendered not only less powerful, but might be erased altogether.”

Tucker Carlson’s daring defense of his artificially victimized audience has brought him a sizable fanbase. 4.3 million loyal viewers tuned in nightly to his show and gave him the best ratings on cable television. But Carlson’s message is not as sincere as many believe.

Through the leaks of his private texts during the Dominion trial, Tucker, after supporting Donald Trump on his program, was revealed to “hate [Trump] passionately.” He called Trump’s four years in office a “disaster”, and called the man a “demonic force”.

Hypocrisy aside, Carlson’s true colors don’t matter in the scheme of his influence. Every inflammatory, conspiratorial, and downright untrue thing he’s said still resounds in the hearts of his former audience. After all, he was only reading from a script – there are bigger problems than talking heads like Tucker Carlson.

“When the Rupert Murdochs of the world can buy and script the agenda for entire media outlets, they have an interest in distracting white middle- and working-class people from the fact that it’s [people] like him and the rest of the 1% that are the enemy,” says Reverend Ashley Horan.

These culture wars and victimhood narratives are a means of keeping the population in constant conflict with each other. At the core of Carlson and Fox News’ spurious outrage and bourgeois populism are the politics of fear. As long as Americans are fearful of each other, our country’s problems will never be solved.