Fox News host Tucker Carlson is a propagandist, though a clever and savvy one. And on his program Monday night, he was up to the usual routine of discrediting the entire Democratic presidential field — talking up their divisions and reaching far to fetch a solution. Michelle Obama, he said, was “one of the only people who could unite the party’s warring factions.”

On the morning program “America’s Newsroom,” host Bill Hemmer used Carlson’s comments to introduce a chat with Michael Blake, a New York state assemblyman and a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. “What do you think about the prediction on Michelle Obama?” Hemmer asked. “Would you like to see that?”

It was a curious way to premise a conversation on the Democratic presidential race, as Blake noted in his response. “Well, she’s not running,” Blake stated right off the bat.

Then came the haymakers: “But the core question is why in hell does Tucker Carlson still have a job here in the first place. The reality is this is someone who said white supremacy is a hoax and why does Fox allow him to still be here in the first place?”

Phenomenal question! Over the summer Carlson did indeed aver that white nationalism is a hoax — a false claim of the gaslighting variety. In truth, white nationalism is alive and, unfortunately, thriving. It even has a champion in the White House. Another point Blake might have noted is that Carlson has accused Democrats of hating their own country, even though Carlson remains a registered Democrat.

It will not surprise die-hard Fox News viewers that the smooth Hemmer managed his way out of this live on-air bind with aplomb. Here’s how he and Blake socked it out:

Hemmer: Well, I mean, his opinion there was that Michelle Obama may get in this race. Do you think that will happen or do you not?
Blake: Not going to happen but I think the core question is he shouldn’t be on here at all.
Hemmer: I got it. We didn’t bring you on to talk about Tucker Carlson. I brought you on here to talk about the Democratic field.

Blake, though, wasn’t content with just a single jab at Fox News on Fox News. He kept at it. As Blake gave his broad view of contemporary politics, he couldn’t help but include mention of the network on which he was unfurling his analysis. “People are sick and tired of the noise out of D.C.,” said Blake. “We’re talking about jobs while [President] Trump is ignoring the truth. We’re talking about health care while he’s ignoring the truth and the question must be for Donald Trump, for Fox News and for other entities,” said Blake, in a fit of on-the-mark wisdom.

Hemmer barged in: “Listen, I didn’t bring you on to bash our network, so with all due respect, why don’t we just keep it on topic.”

Blake rebutted: “But it’s relevant.”

Hemmer: “No, it’s not.”

Blake: “Well, the Tucker Carlson premise.”

Hemmer: “It is not relevant to the conversation we’re having. Save it for later.”

With that, Hemmer undercut his own credibility as a host on the supposedly “straight news” side of Fox News. When it comes to the ongoing presidential race, Fox News is absolutely “relevant.” Its opinion hosts — chiefly Carlson and Sean Hannity, two of the most powerful people in the U.S. United States today — either set or regurgitate talking points for Trump and his lackeys in Congress. It discredits truth-telling mainstream media outlets when they report negative things about Trump and hails them when they report negative things about Democrats. Its viewers regard those opinion hosts as cultural heroes and flawless truth-tellers. It provides a farm system for Trump administration recruits.

All of this is out there in plain sight. Fox News is such a powerful component of contemporary politics that any straightforward analysis of the presidential contest must include mention of the network. That Blake did it with such detachment and matter-of-fact delivery slammed the point home.

Fox News likes to say that its news division — home to Hemmer, Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum and others — and its opinion people — Carlson, Hannity, “Fox & Friends” and others — are separate entities. If so, why would Hemmer use a comment from Carlson to kick off a segment on the supposedly straight news program “America’s Newsroom”? The thing is, Fox News has a history of doing just that — taking clips from Hannity or former host Bill O’Reilly or Carlson and using them to launch segments. Hemmer & Co. beware: There is great risk in this juxtaposition.

And, more importantly, there is no substantive rebuttal to Blake’s objections. Hemmer did his best to steer clear of the force field created by the corruption of his own employer, insisting that Fox News was irrelevant to the discussion. But he didn’t venture a defense of Carlson because there is no defense of Carlson.

As to Blake’s question of why Carlson remains in the employ of Fox News, there’s a twofold answer: One, because he gets good ratings. Two, because his divisive style has won the support of his bosses, the Murdochs. Which is to say, he has a job because he says things like white nationalism is a hoax, not despite them.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson says liberals and the media are obsessed with racism. But media critic Erik Wemple says it is Carlson who is obsessed. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

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