Not only does Tucker Carlson think apologizing is for sissies, as we explained on Tuesday, but also his boss apparently isn’t big on saying sorry, either.
In December, the Fox News host touched off an advertiser withdrawal from his prime-time program when he said, “We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our country poorer and dirtier and more divided.” Though the backlash against Carlson was vehement, so was his backlash to the backlash. In a subsequent broadcast, he cited litter left by undocumented immigrants at the border. “The Arizona Department of Environment Quality estimates that each illegal border-crosser leaves six to eight pounds of trash during the journey into our country,” said Carlson.
He also complained: “The left would very much like you to stop talking and thinking about bad decisions they’ve made over the years that they happen to be profiting from,” Carlson said on his program. “‘Shut up,’ they’re screaming, including to this show. Obviously, we won’t, and you shouldn’t either.”
Wonder where Carlson’s confidence comes from? Management! As the New York Times’s Jonathan Mahler and Jim Rutenberg point out in a three-part piece on the Murdoch family:
When Tucker Carlson came under fire for his increasingly pointed attacks on immigration — “We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our country poorer and dirtier and more divided” — he received personal text messages of support from Lachlan, according to two people familiar with the texts.
That would be Fox Corp. leader Lachlan Murdoch, who oversees Fox News after a sustained rivalry with brother James Murdoch. Such guidance is consistent with the view of the company’s new management. “James wanted the company to become more digitally focused and more politically moderate, while Lachlan wanted to lean into the reactionary politics of the moment,” reads a summary of the Times’ findings.
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of stiff-spined text messages from the boss. When Carlson says something hateful, the impact is immediate. He hears about it on social media; his phone blows up. He even referred, obliquely, to the outrage that greeted Media Matters’ unearthing of his nasty and vile comments on a radio program a decade ago. “As anyone who has ever been caught in its gears can tell you, the great American outrage machine is a remarkable thing. One day you’re having dinner with your family, imagine everything is fine. The next, your phone exploding with calls from reporters,” whined Carlson in March. “They read you snippets from a press release written by Democratic Party operatives, they demand to know how you could possibly have said something so awful and offensive.”
The upshot? Expect little change from Fox News. Sean Hannity may continue to cheerlead for President Trump, and more: The Times investigation found that during the 2016 presidential campaign, Hannity “advised the president’s former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to be on the lookout for ex-girlfriends or former employees of Mr. Trump lest they cause him trouble, according to two people who know about the interactions (Hannity denies offering such advice).” Carlson may continue to spout racist and misogynistic lines of argument. Jeanine Pirro may continue to push her own brand of hatred — slamming Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for wearing a hijab — with only a slap on the wrist from higher-ups.
When Pirro returned to the air after a two-week suspension last Saturday night, she called for extreme measures: “Don’t be satisfied with the Mueller report. This is bound to happen again because these arrogant, lying, condescending, leaking haters of you and me and the America that doesn’t have power are gonna do it again unless we stop them. And the only way to stop them is with justice, true justice and that is behind the bars justice.”
Bret Baier, one of the franchise faces of the supposedly neutral news side of Fox News, tweeted about Pirro’s bile:
This is the Fox News of Rupert Murdoch and the Fox News of Lachlan Murdoch: Ratings absolve everything.