A Plutocrat Criticizing Plutocrats in Defense of Plutocracy

On C-SPAN’s After Words, Koch lobbyist and Catholic conservative Matt Schlapp interviewed self-avowed elitist Tucker Carlson from Fox News. The purpose of the interview is Carlson’s new book, Ship of Fools. I don’t know much about him nor have I read his book. The only reason I watched it was because my dad cajoled me into doing so. Even though my dad strongly dislikes Carlson on his new show, he took this interview as important and to the point. I might agree.

Carlson regularly states that he isn’t that smart and he is right. His intellect is rather mundane, he offers no new insights, and he admits that he was wrong about so much of what he has believed and supported. But what makes the interview worthwhile is that, if one ignores the right-wing talking points, he expresses something resembling honesty. He poses as a humble Christian speaking the truth and, as easy as it would be to dismiss him, I’m feeling generous in taking him at face value for the moment.

Much of what he says has been said better by left-wingers for generations. Some of these criticisms are so typical of the far left that, in the Democratic Party, they are beyond the pale. The message is essentially the same as Nick Hanauer, another rich white guy, warning about the pitchforks coming for plutocrats (Hanauer once said of his fellow Democrat and former business associate, Jeff Bezos, that he’ll do the right thing when someone points a gun at his head). Carlson himself not that long ago, if he had heard someone say what he is saying now, would have called that person radical, unAmerican, and maybe evil. Instead, as a defender of capitalism, he literally called evil those CEOs who wreck their corporations and then take large bonuses.

This is drawing a line in the sand. It is the conviction that there is a moral order that trumps all else. He didn’t say that these money-mongers are psychopathic, narcissistic, or Machiavellian. Such terms have no moral punch to them. Carlson didn’t merely call something bad or wrong but evil. And he didn’t say he hated the sin but loved the sinner. No, these corrupt and selfish individuals were deemed evil, the ultimate moral judgment. When I pointed out this strong language to my dad, he said it was in line with his own Christian views.

For many conservatives and also for many establishment liberals, this is a rare moment when they might hear this message in the corporatist media, whether or not they listen. If they won’t pay attention to those who have been warning about this sad state of affairs for longer than I’ve been alive, let us hope they will finally take notice of those in positions of wealth, power, and authority when they say the exact same thing.

Tucker Carlson is basically telling the ruling elite that the game is up. The only reason he is warning his fellow plutocrats, as he states in no uncertain terms, is because he fears losing his comfortable lifestyle if the populists gain power. And his fear isn’t idle, considering that a while back protesters gathered outside of his house and chanted, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight! We know where you sleep at night!” The natives are restless. I guess he is hoping for a plutocrat like Theodore Roosevelt to ride into power and then reign in the worst aspects of capitalism in order to prop it up for another generation or two.

Good luck with that…

4 thoughts on “A Plutocrat Criticizing Plutocrats in Defense of Plutocracy

  1. Several years ago during yet another episode of political Tourette’s in the Middle East, Tucker was dispatched to Lebanon – and no doubt he insisted on going in order to “make his journalistic bones.”

    So on behalf of himself and MSNBC he “reported” from the IDF side of a fight in Lebanon. He lost the bow tie, got a tan and spouted a lot of banalities. Chris Mathews doing his ad hominin routine went off the off script normalcy of his routine to say about Tucker: “Doesn’t he look great.”

    The obscenity of it the tone deaf out of touch cold hearted nature of it summed up Carlson, Mathews and the corporate media – for me – in a few seconds.

    Beyond that Carlson is afraid because the rising tide has started to lap at his penny loafers.

    • No doubt that is a fair assessment. That is why the interview was all the more interesting. The use of such morally strong language from an establishment authority figure is telling. That is even more powerful in that it is coming from a major media gatekeeper. That isn’t the kind of language one is used to hearing in corporate media where the elite are supposed to play nice with each other. And whatever names they call one another, evil is not supposed to be one of them. Sure, American elites will call evil the elites of other countries sometimes, such as in speaking of the Evil Empire during the Cold War. But this is a guy who identifies with, works within, and defends the capitalist order. And he is calling another capitalist evil.

      It’s the elite turning against each other, if only rhetorically for the moment, as has been seen before in American history before periods of mass tumult. I take it as a sign of what is to come. There is more to it, though. In his own way, Carlson isn’t only warning of something on the horizon but could be seen as instigating conflict. Throwing such words around is like throwing lit matches in a dry field. His role as agent provocateur can be observed in his Fox News show where he plays the role of dogmatic ideologue and rabid demagogue attacking opponents, rather than a calm moderate seeking peaceful resolution and compassionate understanding. He is feeding the trolls, reactionaries, and authoritarians. As Bill O’Reilly before him, he seems to relish in stirring up shit… or else he is willing to whore himself to serve the agendas of others who want that shit stirred, as long as the price is right and indeed he is paid well.

      It makes one wonder what he is trying to accomplish, especially in how out of place some of his harsh criticisms are in the context of the standard right-wing talking points he also spouts. He pretends to be speaking for the average American, but most of his commentary seems to be directed to people like him in the upper class. There are many mixed messages in his rant. Who is supposed to be his audience? Does he know? What is the end game?

      • There’s a lot to that.

        I’d say preppy sociopath frat boy stirring up shit just to do it and because that’s what he’s always done but also he’s aware that the right is going to cannibalize itself as Trump Inc starts to go down in hearings, and assorted criminal situations.

        The left of course habitually eats itself (Robert Reich on the left end of the liberal spectrum had a piece yesterday in the Guardian calling for impeachment which puts him at odds with Pelosi Inc etc) and now the normally monolithic Conservative Inc. will do it – there will have to be a purge of Trump people and the establishment conservatives will try to push their base of fascists and old confederates back into the basement.

        But with the environment collapsing it wont be as easy as it was in the past.

        Your point about his mixed message is important.

        It’s key to the populist demagogue. Common man + bourgeoise wanna-be – Trump hates the old money New Yorkers but desperately wants a seat at their table.

        Tucker is similar if more polished than Trump.

        But there’s also a cold calculated cynicism to it with Carlson.

        When Jon Stewart really took off it was due to an appearance on a CNN iteration of “Crossfire” with Carlson and Paul Begalia. Stewart to the delight of the audience came on and said both of them (‘liberal” Begalia and “conservative” Tucker) were just ginning up the audience and providing a fake binary piece of TV bs.

        True enough but what was more telling re: Carlson was that as they went to commercial and after a few minutes of genuine acrimony between Carlson and Stewart, Carlson said: Great segment, thanks! – or words to that effect.

        In other words he was still clinging to the idea that it’s all just “TV” and despite making the mistake of getting into a verbal hissing match with a stand up comic who had already spent years in comedy clubs dealing with drunks and assorted hecklers, he was trying to be professionally cynical.

        I think it’s very much part of his DNA – a creature of the system.

        Today he might be O’Rielly esque and tomorrow a “radical” (compared to conservative doctrine) “average” man.

        Not to say there aren’t elements of authenticity mixed with the bs and not to discount his words representing a smoldering fire that is capable of bursting into a social conflagration.

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