Friday, April 27, 2012

The Long Twilight of Tucker Carlson

Alex Pareene at has a profile of Tucker Carlson, the writer turned pundit who has gone from being a respectable voice on the right — yes, there are such creatures — to a derisive and desperate hack.

His politics were undisguised, but his work was honest, and sometimes pretty funny. Carlson seemed to subscribe to a form of conservatism — moneyed and cheerfully elitist, the sort practiced by people for whom policy journals actually matter — that was gradually going out of favor in the Republican Party but that is always welcome in the “liberal media.”

There were warning signs, of course. Like every other raging asshole who goes into journalism, Carlson idolized Hunter Thompson (that piece has the classic “I did a lot of really cool drugs once and it was no biggie” anecdote beloved of sad “rebel” libertarian poseurs). He repeated the same stale stereotypes masquerading as clever observations (NPR listeners driving Volvos turn up with some frequency in his writing going back to the 1990s). But what really destroyed Tucker Carlson, respected magazine journalist, was TV. TV exposed him as glib, smug and not nearly as clever as he thought he was. (Maybe it exposed how well edited he’d been for so many years.)


Some particular low lights from an increasingly regrettable career: The time Carlson said he beat up some gay guy who tried to be gay all over him because Carlson is deathly afraid of gay people and the prospect of anyone ever thinking he is gay. The time he got a video store employee fired, and threatened to “destroy” him, for mentioning that Tucker Carlson rented a video from his store. His remarkably stupid and creepy interview with Elle in which he embodied every repulsive fratty asshole stereotype imaginable (“One area of liberal phenomenon I support is female bi-sexuality,” “Most of the time you can beat a woman in an argument.” And on and on.) And the fact that his full name is Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson, and that his brother’s name is Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson.

Well, no one can help what their name is, but other than that, it’s not an unusual pattern to see a gifted and intelligent person let the fame and fortune go to their head.

I’m sure Mr. Carlson will come back with some overblown rant about Mr. Pareene and try to “destroy” him, too, but all that will do is prove that nothing is so humiliating as being called out for what you really are.

HT to FC.