Friday, March 10, 2023


Aaron Rupar is right, obviously: Tucker Carlson's viewers want to be lied to.
Carlson has learned something since he sent texts following the 2020 election questioning whether viewers were prepared to believe that Hugo Chavez was manipulating the nation’s election results from the grave: The right-wing viewership of Fox is willing to believe even the most obvious and absurd lies — as long as those falsehoods support their belief that they are on the side of righteousness and their adversaries on the left are evil.
And Rupar is right when he says that if Carlson keeps giving viewers what they want, they won't care that he privately said he didn't believe much of what goes out on Fox's air, including on his broadcasts.
Being exposed as a bald faced liar by people outside the right wing media-sphere is plainly of no concern to Carlson. His finger is constantly on the pulse of his audience, and he’s wary only of losing their allegiance by telling them facts they don’t want to hear.
Recently there have been a number of right-wing attacks on Fox, from Steve Bannon and others, and there's been some slippage in Fox's ratings. But the criticism still isn't having the impact that Fox's early call of Arizona had on Election Night 2020. That's because Fox is still a reliable purveyor of delicious right-wing grievances. Fox's ratings might slip further if it's not sufficiently supportive of Donald Trump (as a candidate, a criminal defendant, or both), but for now everything's fine at Fox. The ratings are good. The audience has mostly remained loyal.

But why aren't more viewers angry about the contempt expressed by prominent figures at Fox for the stolen election theory? To answer that, I think we have to imagine Fox as a bad dad.

To the viewers who are aware of what people at Fox said about the election, those truthful messages are like Dad coming home drunk and beating the kids. Sure, it's awful -- but if Dad is kind and considerate the next morning, it shouldn't be surprising if the kids are simply relieved to have the father they remember back at the breakfast table. If they want to tell themselves that the abuse never happened, or that it was an unrepresentative moment and is unlikely ever to happen again, it's to be expected.

Yes, it's horrible that I'm equating abusive parenting with Fox personalities telling the truth. But I think the Fox audience experiences stories about those private Fox messages as that kind of betrayal.

However, as long as it never happens again, they'll go on as if it never happened at all.

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