Scheffler: Fox, Carlson and the 2020 election

Scheffler: Fox, Carlson and the 2020 election

Nick Scheffler

Investing countless hours following politics as a journalism student over the last four years has validated my concerns on the motivations of corporate media. Cable news networks such as MSNBC, CNN and Fox are, as Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi says in his book “Hate Inc.,” “a twisted wing of the entertainment business.” A good example of these networks acting as a provider of entertainment, rather than news, was the CNN debate last January. Specifically, the hot-mic’d, post-debate moment when Elizabeth Warren confronted Bernie Sanders on “calling her a liar” after he vehemently denied her allegations of sexism. It was as produced as Hannah Ann “accidentally” drinking Kelsey’s champagne in this season of The Bachelor.

Since Trump’s win in 2016, Fox has evolved from a conservative spin-zone into a conservative spin-zone also functioning as an arm of the government. Trump has campaigned alongside the network’s most popular commentator Sean Hannity, has appointed Fox employees to high-level positions in his administration and is dependent on the network in pushing his policies while simultaneously praising him for doing a good job. It’s funny how Fox, a network composed of those whose ideology traditionally supports small government for fears of authoritarianism, is actively equipping the Trump administration with the power and influence of the most-watched cable news network in the country. 

However, there seems to be a dull diamond in the rough. Fox News host and man-who-still-sleeps-with-a-night-light Tucker Carlson has been surprising me lately with his commentary on Bernie Sanders. While other networks like CNN and MSNBC are still grappling with the reality that he is the Democratic front-runner, Carlson is warning Republicans of being overconfident heading into a national election where Bernie is the Democratic nominee. Why? Because Carlson recognizes that campaigning on a populist agenda, running on issues which benefit the “people ” rather than the “elite,” is a vital reason why Trump won the 2016 election.

Carlson holds many economic populist beliefs. He often criticizes America for being a corporatocracy and advocates for the middle and lower class on economic issues. The most prominent issue in this election: debt. On one episode of his show, he discusses how the old Democratic Socialist’s policies on medical and student debt relief could be the ticket for victory next November. He says, “Improve peoples’ lives and they will vote for you. Period.” 

In one segment, Carlson tries to explain why socialism is popular on college campuses. He asserts that students aren’t cheerleaders for capitalism because it’s a system that’s resulted in student debt rising to $1.4 trillion nationwide and the average student graduating with a little over $37,000 in debt. Not only is this a major hindrance on someone just graduating college, but a colossal lobbying effort by lenders has made it impossible to declare bankruptcy on these loans. They follow you for the rest of your life. And if you suddenly croak from choking on one of those huge Gobstoppers, the debt passes on to your family members. It seems like a punishment for a crime — the crime of seeking an education.

While I disagree with the majority of Carlson’s utterances, I respect him for going against the status quo of the corporate media and doing better coverage than many other partisan hacks on the issues that truly matter in the upcoming election. But unfortunately for Tucker, he will forever be the person who Jon Stewart murdered by words on his own show.