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REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: Carlson book torpedoes the opposition

JACK WEATHERLY

By JACK WEATHERLY
jack.weatherly@msbusiness.com

Tucker Carlson is the star of the network that dominates the cable world.

His ascendancy coincides with the election of Donald Trump as president.

Aha!

Lacky for the madman.

Not so fast, my friend, as football commentator Lee Corso likes to say.

Carlson is a member of an endangered species: rational man. He knows logical arguments, and fallacies.

And therefore he traps foes with their own words weeknights on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on the Fox network.

And now he has written a book, “Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution.”

In it he reviews major political and cultural trends during the past two years or so, with all-important historical context.

Trump stunned the nation and world by being elected president. The nation and the world have not regained their equilibrium.

Trump doesn’t help. The real estate magnate simply does not – and will never — see the difference between the board room and the Oval Office.

Tucker Carlson

Carlson doesn’t disagree.

“Virtually nobody thought that Trump could become president. Trump himself had no idea,” Carlson writes. “For much of the race, his critics dismissed Trump’s campaign as a marketing ploy. Initially, it probably was.

“Yet somehow Trump won. Why? Donald Trump isn’t the sort of candidate you’d vote for lightly. His voters meant it. Were they endorsing Trump as a man? His personal decency? His command of policy? His hairstyle? Did millions of Americans see his Access Hollywood tape and think, ‘Finally, a candidate who speaks for me’? Probably not.”

“Donald Trump was in many ways an unappealing figure. He never hid that. Voters knew it. They just concluded that the options were worse . . . .”

The opposition has kept throwing punches after the final bell.

They seek to unseat him, hoping the dots between the initial E and the terminal T of entrapment will be connected at the end of the “Russian investigation,” which has dragged on for two years.

Meantime, there has been plenty of mischief of the highest order. The Democratic Party, for instance, unloaded its bag of dirty tricks to try to block Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh.

And in the process trampled all over the Constitution’s provision for due process protection while waving the flag of the #MeToo movement, which has a legitimacy as a political movement but certainly not unbridled authority. Only our founding document has that.

“The Democratic Party is now the party of the rich,” Carlson writes. Eight of America’s ten most affluent counties voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, in most cases by a large margin.”

Trump’s message of America First resonated with those on the fringes of what used to be a strong middle class. Hillary Clinton put half of them in what she called “a basket of deplorables.”

Her penchant for such rhetoric has not changed since the siege days of the Clinton White House when she blamed “a vast right-wing conspiracy” for their troubles, which included, in fact, impeachment. Such inflated rhetoric is hard, if not impossible, to refute because of its sheer size.

In Carlson, she has more than met her match, though he takes on the other side, one person at a time. It’s the difference between politics and journalism, demagoguery and truth.

The “permanent ruling class in Washington [has] worked to sabotage [the Trump] administration,” Carlson writes of the not-so-sub rosa component of the “Resistance.”

Since the November 2016 election, the Democratic Party has developed an antipathy toward the Electoral College, which, under the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, awarded the election to Trump, while Clinton won the popular vote.

Her husband did not get a majority the 1992 election, but defeated George H.W. Bush. Not a peep out of her when Bill won, based merely on Electoral College tabulation.

Social media have insinuated themselves into the arena by becoming our universal encyclopedia (Google) and Facebook, our global telephone party line (where everyone, it seems, can listen in on your call). And, of course, Trump has exploited Twitter.

In Carlson’s “Tech Tyranny” feature, he regularly takes Google and other titans to task for spying on their customers.

College campuses, meantime, too often sell out the First Amendment guarantee of free speech, when it does not bow to the latest sophistry.

Carlson is a throwback to the wordsmiths of the past, who cut their teeth on newspapers. A small complaint about the book. There is no index. No excuse for that, especially for one that is eminently worth its sources.

His editorials are sterling pieces that reflect the fact, no doubt, that he was mentored by Pulitzer-winning Paul Greenberg on the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial staff for a few years.

I am fortunate to claim Greenberg – a great writer, not merely a prize winner — as a friend with whom I worked on two different newspapers in Arkansas.

I can assure you he did not win that prize because it was “his turn,” as so many these days squawk as they demand their “share” based on specious reasoning that Thomas Sowell debunked a generation ago.

(Did you notice? I did. Hillary was lost in the crowd of onlookers with her former president-husband at the inauguration of Donald Trump. Her admission ticket? She was with – humiliation of humiliations – her husband. One of Hillary’s bumper stickers was, of course, I’M WITH HER.)

Oh, maybe the next generation Clinton.

Been keeping up with former First Daughter Chelsea? She has made a career of jumping from one high and quite lucrative position to the next. With no evidence of having the credentials for any of those jobs.

How so?

“In Chelsea Clinton’s world, nobody tells her she’s wrong,” Carlson writes. They just let her prattle on.

Prior to finding his home at Fox, Carlson worked for MSNBC, CNN and PBS, along with sojourns in print.

He and Fox are lined up against the traditional power players in the Fourth Estate – The New York Times, Washington Post and the old TV networks – as well as other cable news stations, which are not doing so well in covering up their premature dementia (especially CNN) as they fall in lockstep with the new elite, as Carlson calls them.

For me, he’s such a joy to watch. What a persona. The headmaster-looking guy (who did shed that bow tie and is pushing 50) with the floppy hairdo and spontaneous laugh when his eyebrows aren’t straight-line serious as he focuses politely (and lethally) on what his victims are saying before he dispatches them.

His brilliant interviews and commentaries are as good as any I’ve heard (usually read) in my 45 years of journalism during which I have worked with the best and some of the best.

And he found time to write an important book.

» Contact Mississippi Business Journal staff writer Jack Weatherly at jack.weatherly@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1016.

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