• July 17, 2021

Tucker Carlson’s media influence and the #HeyTucker trend

Conservative host Tucker Carlson has stood his ground on Fox News. Carlson’s program has a high proportion of youth ages 21 to 54 (the “key demographic”) in the United States. Tucker Carlson also has a majority stake from conservative ears.

Liberal activists and political candidates know this too. That’s why #HeyTucker continues to be trending on social media sites like Twitter.

To be short and sweet, he has done nothing. And that inaction is their main problem.

“Tuckems,” as MSNBC host Joy Ried calls it so often, is not about the vaccine. However, he is devising a nightly formula to create massive mistrust and sow panic.

First, Carlson’s audience of broadly conservative viewers hears him explain the government’s role in vaccine distribution. He claims that it is not bad, but that there are “unanswered questions”.

Journalists and academics are quick to point out this “bad faith” tactic. Carlson’s questions, for most participants, are more hurtful and coercive than genuine. For viewers, however, Tucker is a trusted source wondering aloud about his safety.

Then follow these questions with royal bravado. More direct claims of what the government can and will do. Wondering aloud about the federal government’s ability to force you to get vaccinated.

So why does it matter?

Well, first, it breeds mistrust. Let’s be realistic. Of the more than 300 million people in the US, fewer than 1 million reside in the District of Columbia.

You must be able to trust your media because you cannot be there. We all agree that the government keeps secrets and can make mistakes. We all know that the government has a history of not publishing or correcting these mistakes.

Journalists can pressure public figures through information and transparency. That act can have just consequences; check out my review of cancellation culture. However, it requires your knowledge and your trust.

Tucker Carlson can erode trust. And that cannot always be fixed.

Once that trust disappears in the media or is out of the reach of local and national viewers, power shifts to the bad actors. People who thread conspiracy theories into news-looking shows.

Then those conspiracies are transformed into actions. You may feel called not to receive a life-saving vaccine because of a segment. Or perhaps feeling like a choice was rigged despite the abundance of evidence. Maybe, just maybe, you feel a call to action.

And that is one of the purposes of journalism.

Journalism does not exist just to inform you. Tucker Carlson, Joy Ried, and all the voices on Politicus don’t just talk about the news, they share it, and then expect nothing.

As a viewer, we hope that that knowledge will have an impact on what you do, how you think, and make you a little bit smarter. And as viewers, we tend to unconsciously follow suit at times.

During the week, I enjoy a little work at a pizzeria. This week, a supervisor walks into the restaurant in the midst of a hectic change. While there, he talks about the Carlson program and how unemployed people will find a job here.

I talked about how the minimum wage does not allow full-time workers to pay rent in all fifty states. Then he points out that he would not increase the salary in any establishment. Your answer?

Tucker Carlson got you there. They were talking about [economics and] these employed people are going to need to work. Maybe 80 hours is what we have. “

And that doesn’t even come close to a discussion of his show’s flirting with the hissing and racist undertones of dogs. (Sometimes nuances, of course).

Now, were you expecting to hear a direct correlation at a pizza place? Absolutely not! However, the sprinkling continues.

A customer started a conversation about how they won’t get vaccinated. They would continue to go to work and would never answer questions.

They had just gotten off work in a nursing home for the elderly.

The young woman noticed that Fauci “does not touch her.” And he mumbled something about the vaccine that I walked away from. (No, there are no microchips, I know. If one shows up, I’ll tell my bionic half to let the human half know.)

Tucker Carlson presents some, if not all, of these ideas. And leaving aside the insidious nature, we have to consider what we should do.

Carlson’s words are indefensible, even in court. If you are listening to it, you are listening to the words of a host who is often scrutinized.

A host who wanted us to talk less about race in his early years. (Read his books at your own discretion.) A CNN-to-MSNBC-to-Fox anchor would retell stories from places of origin devoid of culture.

Now, Twitter is trying to change its mind. They want you to talk about the vaccine and pass on if you got it. (You have avoided the question when journalists ask.)

Or better yet, admit what scientists already overwhelmingly accept. To say that these vaccines are life-saving efforts that have substantially reduced our death toll. And stop poisoning the speech.

Because this poison kills.

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