Posted by Curt on 6 May, 2023 at 9:15 am. 2 comments already!


By Patrick Lawrence

I’ve read a lot of smear since Fox News dismissed Tucker Carlson as its premier evening news presenter late last month. How could I not? It was everywhere, and more fecal matter is being flung Carlson’s way as we speak. My favorite in this line so far comes from The American Prospect. “Farewell to a Neo–Nazi Blowhard” was the head on its piece last week. Carlson, you see, is a “neofascist,” TAP wants us to know.
What hollow hyperbole. How few are the level heads in mainstream media these days. How cavalierly do our liberal media debase the English language. How difficult it is to take journalists seriously as they attack another journalist because his views do not match theirs.

What can we learn from all the unhinged denunciations we read daily? What do they tell us about the predicaments of independent minds in journalism—and no matter what you think of Carlson, he has one—and by extension independent journalism altogether?

In my read, independent media are in a state of siege that has escalated markedly of late. Although he worked for a corporate-owned cable network, I take Carlson’s fate as symptomatic of an intensifying attack on any media that deviate from the national security state’s ever more rigorously enforced orthodoxies.

The past week brings grim news of the determination of political elites and deeply insecure mainstream media to stifle dissent in wall-to-wall fashion. It is time to pay close attention. This is more now than the grousing of a few independent journalists such as your columnist. Everything up to how we live and think is at stake.

Setting aside all the dross casting Carlson as the Beelzebub of our profession, the remarks that stay in my mind are of another kind. Diana Johnstone, the distinguished Europeanist who has corresponded from Paris for decades, sent a brief note after Fox’s announcement, calling Carlson “the last free voice on mainstream television.” I paused and wondered if I agreed. And then decided I did.

“The TV host paid the price because he tried the impossible: straddling the divide between corporate media and critical journalism,” Jonathan Cook, who I hold in the same high regard I have for Johnstone, wrote last week on his blog. “He exposed ordinary Americans to critical perspectives, especially on U.S. foreign policy, that they had no hope of hearing anywhere else—and most certainly not from so-called ‘liberal’ corporate media outlets like CNN and MSNBC. And he did so while constantly ridiculing the media’s craven collusion with those in power.”

Johnstone and Cook share an essential point. It is not about agreeing with everything Tucker Carlson had to say on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” his evening cable broadcast. They don’t and I don’t. This is about the presence of independent voices in American journalism. And Carlson has raised such a voice since Fox gave him a prime-time slot in 2016.

I can’t but note that those celebrating Carlson’s dismissal the loudest are other journalists. They do this by marking him down as a neofascist or a crypto–Nazi or what have you. This has the effect of turning the Carlson case into a left-right question. I do not know Carlson but know people who do. The epithets just noted require no comment. The only way you can get away with calling him a racist—another common charge—is if you buy into the nonsense that all white people are racist because they are white people.

No, the hoards of flunkies working for corporate media have it in for Tucker Carlson because he takes positions that are forbidden to them. Among these many, Carlson opposes the war in Ukraine, the military-industrial complex, covert coup operations in Cuba and elsewhere, Washington’s subterfuge at the United Nations and America’s imperialist project altogether. Carlson took Seymour Hersh’s report on the Biden’s regime’s covert op to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines for what it is: a tour de force piece of work by the premier investigative reporter now writing. Corporate-paid journalists detest Carlson for these things. I imagine there is a lot of subliminal envy attaching to Tucker Carlson’s professional performance over the years.

This is not a left-right question. Not much is anymore when you come down to it, primarily because there is no left left in America to allow for right-left questions. I do not read Carlson as an ideologue of any sort. I read him as an independent mind feeling its way, correct on many things, wrong on just as many.

Jonathan Cook, Glenn Greenwald and others have said all that needs saying about Tucker Carlson’s fate at Fox News. I am interested in this primarily as a case of journalist-on-journalist crime. This is not a right-left question, either. It is a question of independent thinking and dissenting perspectives and those who are fully on now for suppressing both. Tucker Carlson’s is a high-profile case and is complicated by Fox News’s place among corporate-owned media. Let us consider other developments that give us a fuller picture of what amounts to an intensifying war for control of “the narrative” and, at the horizon, our minds.

“Tucker Carlson’s firing reveals how afraid the media is of independent journalists,” is the headline Jonathan Cook wrote for his blog last week. Entirely true, but media (a plural noun, incidentally) are not the only ones now fearful.

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