Conservative presenter Tucker Carlson has stood her ground on Fox News. Carlson's show has a high percentage of 21 to 54 year olds (the "major population") in the United States. Tucker Carlson also has a majority of conservative ears.
Liberal activists and political candidates also know this. Because of this, #HeyTucker is still trending on social media sites like Twitter.
My mother-in-law watches your show every night and she is reluctant (understatement) to take the vaccine
Could you say you took it on the air, please?
I think it would change your mind
I think that could save your life
Her name is June if you want to say hello
– Diedrich Bader (@bader_diedrich) July 16, 2021
In short, he didn't do anything. And this inaction is its main problem.
“Tuckems,” as MSNBC presenter Joy Ried calls him so often, doesn't talk about the vaccine. However, every night he develops a formula to generate massive distrust and sow panic.
First, from largely conservative viewers, Carlson's audience hears him explain the government's role in vaccine distribution. He does not claim that it is bad, but that there are "unanswered questions".
Journalists and scholars are quick to point out this “bad faith” tactic. Carlson's questions read as harmful and compelling rather than real to most participants. However, for viewers, Tucker is a trusted source who marvel aloud about its safety.
Tucker Carlson Tonight is convincing. Not because it is politically bent in one direction, but because it is absolutely based on scare tactics, which is repeatedly taken up in research.
– 🌱 Ivy Lyons 🦁 (@theIvyLyons) April 27, 2021
Then he pursues these questions with actual scare tactics. More direct claims about what the government can and will do. I wonder aloud about the federal government's ability to coerce you into an injection.
Why is it important?
Well, first of all, it creates suspicion. Let's be real. Of the more than 300 million people in the United States, fewer than 1 million live in the District of Columbia.
You have to be able to trust your news outlets because you can't be there. We all agree that the government can keep secrets and make mistakes. We all know that the government has not published or corrected these errors in the past.
Fox News has relentlessly undermined efforts to get Americans vaccinated. Over two weeks, 57% of the coronavirus vaccine segments on the network contained claims that undermined vaccination efforts.
Read the new study: https://t.co/5hN7q2ndbf pic.twitter.com/PBvYArQO6X
– Media Affairs (@mmfa) July 16, 2021
Journalists can put pressure on public figures through reporting and transparency. This act can lead to fair consequences – see my analysis of the demolition culture. However, it does require your knowledge and confidence.
Tucker Carlson can undermine trust. And that can't always be fixed.
As soon as that trust in the media is lost or inaccessible to local and national viewers, power shifts to bad actors. People threading conspiracy theories into new looking shows.
"It disinfects and legitimizes right-wing conspiratorial thinking, evades when you try to nail it down to the details, and then wraps everything up in an argument about censorship and free speech …" https://t.co/B4CZQP3Zsj
I've read all of the Tucker-Carlson profiles. Nobody arrives completely.
– Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) July 15, 2021
These conspiracies then turn into actions. You may feel called not to get a life-saving vaccine because of a segment. Or maybe you feel that an election has been rigged, despite the fact that there is plenty of evidence. Maybe, just maybe, you will feel a call to action.
And that's a goal of journalism.
Journalism is not just about keeping you informed. Tucker Carlson, Joy Ried and all the voices at Politicus don't just talk about the news, share the news and then expect nothing.
As viewers, we expect this knowledge to influence your actions and thinking and make you a little smarter. And as viewers, we tend to unconsciously follow suit occasionally.
The press cannot revert to its disinterested or neutral stance, writes @perrybaconjr. "Nor should it if Trump and Trumpism remain a threat to democracy. It has to find a new path for the United States with a Trumpian Republican Party." https://t.co/oKy75poC0x
– Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) July 14, 2021
During the week I enjoy a sideline in a pizzeria. This week, in the middle of the hectic shift, a supervisor comes to the restaurant. While there, he talks about Carlson's show and how unemployed people find a job here.
I've talked about the minimum wage prohibiting full-time employees from paying rent in all fifty states. Then he points out that he would not raise wages in any company. His answer?
“Tucker Carlson has you here. They talked about (economics and) these employed people will have to work. Maybe we have 80 hours. "
And that's nowhere near a discussion of his show's flirtation with racist dog whistles and undertones. (Sometimes overtones, as can be seen.)
Happy Birthday, MSNBC pic.twitter.com/SeZflIEVrb
– Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) July 16, 2021
Did I expect to hear a direct connection in a pizzeria? Absolutely not! The sprinkling continues, however.
One patron sparked a conversation about not getting vaccinated. They would keep working and never answer questions.
They had just finished their work in an elderly care facility.
The young woman noticed that Fauci “doesn't touch her”. And mumbled something about the vaccine I was walking away from. (No, there are no microchips, I know if one shows up, I tell my bionic half to let the human half know.)
Tucker Carlson has some, if not all of these ideas in mind. Insidious nature aside, we need to think carefully about what to do.
Carlson's words cannot be justified, even in court. When you listen to him, you'll hear the words of an often-questioned host.
A host who wanted us to talk less about races in his early years. (Read his books at your own discretion.) A host from CNN to MSNBC to Fox would tell stories about hometowns with no culture.
Now Twitter is trying to change its mind. They want him to talk about the vaccine and let him know if he even got it. (He avoided the question when reporters ask.)
No more way to say that this is evil and makes people sick and killed.
(Vaccines don't lose their effectiveness very quickly, although they could if these people get their way and it continues to spread and mutate!) Https://t.co/92XePhkca1
– Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) July 17, 2021
Or better yet, admit what scientists overwhelmingly agree with. To say these vaccines are life saving efforts that have significantly reduced our death toll. And stop poisoning the discourse.
Because this poison kills.
I enjoyed being an excited Gen-Z Themfluencer, working in politics, writing as a student journalist and discussing what's most important. I am currently producing and hosting podcasts, contributing to hyper-local news agencies and continuing my Ph.D. Student at the University of Maryland.