Monday, July 06, 2020


This Jonathan Swan post at Axios is absurdly reductive:
If you want to understand the rhetorical roots of Trump's Independence Day speech at Mount Rushmore, go back and watch Tucker Carlson's monologues for the past six weeks.

... Trump — or rather his speechwriter Stephen Miller — framed the president's opposition to the Black Lives Matter protest movement using the same imagery Carlson has been laying out night after night on Fox.

... Below are grabs from Carlson monologues over the past month, followed by quotes from Trump's July 3 speech.

* Carlson: "For more than a month, mobs of violent crazy people have roamed this country, terrorizing citizens and destroying things."

* Trump: "Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities."

* Carlson: "The education cartel, enforced on your children, enforces their demands."

* Trump: "In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance."

* Carlson: "Few people ever could have imagined that Teddy Roosevelt would be canceled. Roosevelt was the most popular president in American history."

* Trump: "One of their political weapons is 'Cancel Culture.'" And in a separate part of the speech, "Theodore Roosevelt exemplified the unbridled confidence of our national culture and identity. ... The American people will never relinquish the bold, beautiful, and untamed spirit of Theodore Roosevelt."

* Carlson: "For weeks we've asked, 'Who will stand up for this country?' And the answer we're learning is Americans. Americans will. It's up to them. Small groups of citizens are beginning to come forward to defend their laws, defend their history and their culture."

* Trump: "They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive. But no, the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country, and all of its values, history, and culture, to be taken from them."

* Carlson: "The Cultural Revolution has come to the West."

* Trump: "Make no mistake: This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution."
Swan suggests that there's only one source for all these ideas. That's preposterous.

We assume that Trump watches Fox News all day, and he may have asked his speechwriters to put all these ideas into his speech. Has Swan noticed what's been on Fox's other shows lately?

And if we assume that Stephen Miller wrote the speech more or less on his own, what do we think has been in his news diet recently?


If you ascribe all the culture war rhetoric in America to Tucker Carlson, you're focusing on the tip and ignoring the iceberg. The messages in Trump's speech are the common complaints of right-wingers across the country, not just on one hour of Fox prime time.

But if you blame it all on Carlson, you can safely ignore how widespread this thinking is. You don't have to pay attention to the other demagogues on the right. You can tell yourself that if Carlson and Trump were gone, then we could have the nice old America back, and the nice old Republican Party.

But it's too late for that. The rot and rage run too deep.

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