Saturday, April 29, 2023

Struck Down, Tucker Will Become More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine

Struck Down, Tucker Will Become More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine

AP Photo/Richard Drew

Tucker Carlson is neither down nor out; he is going to come back bigger and badder than ever. All you goofy virgins who love “Star Wars” will recall that when Darth Vader sliced Obi-Wan Kenobi in two – or at least his moth-eaten cloak – Ben stopped existing in this dimension and became a superbeing who popped in for a chat whenever Luke was in trouble. Tucker’s pretty much going to do that for the movement. Though Tucker may have been tossed off his perch at Fox (or jumped – we will eventually get the details on how this denouement went down), he will land on his feet and crush the libs beneath his preppy Topsiders.

Fox, on the other hand, will face some challenges (Full Disclosure: I occasionally guest on Fox shows and I have done hits with Tucker). It does not absolutely own the conservatives today, if it ever did. The regime media and the leftists do not understand that a lot of conservatives have been annoyed with Fox for quite a while – these cons think Fox is soft. But that misunderstands what Fox is, or at least what it strives to be. Fox, for its part, has to both be the network that welcomes the 50% of Americans the regime media rejects and also maintain old school journalistic standards. The problem is that the Fox audience has little patience for old school journalistic standards in an age where the rest of the media slanders it as a bunch of racist, sexist monsters who think that only women can get pregnant. The audience wants a cheerleader network, and not just in the primetime opinion shows, and that creates a significant tension regarding Fox’s identity. 

Tucker, the network’s flagship opinion host, is gone, as are a lot of people will go with him wherever he lands. They did not consider themselves “Fox viewers” – they considered themselves “Tucker viewers.” The GOP will face a similar dilemma as the 2024 race heats up – there are a lot of people who consider themselves “Trump voters” and not “Republican voters.” Tucker has a lot of love; we will see how much love Fox has.

Now, Fox obviously believes that letting Tucker go is less bad than keeping him, and remember that Fox cut Bill O’Reilly loose at the height of his powers and barely missed a step. In fact, Tucker followed that firing and Tucker became…Tucker. It is possible that Fox can find a new Tucker, either already at the network or outside. But that assumes it wants a new Tucker – a no-holds-barred populist who challenges the establishment on everything from wokeness to Ukraine and thereby brings in huge ratings from viewers who cannot get that anywhere else. It is possible that Fox execs think he creates legal exposure, or that he creates more trouble than he is worth, or that they simply got tired of explaining to their fellow country club members why they let Tucker go unmuzzled. Whatever the reason, now they have to look for a new 8 p.m. Eastern show, and a new star. Hopefully, whatever comes next will not be some puddle of establishment-friendly goo – perhaps “Managed Decline” with hosts Paul Ryan and Jeb! Bush, or maybe “French Lessons” where, each night, the NYT’s own Ichabod Lame explains to the audience why they suck and how they disappoint Jesus.

Whatever is going on, it appears that Tucker is now free, but free to do what? He has limitless options. The question is whether he starts a new company – he already founded “The Daily Caller” – or whether he does something on his own, like a podcast. Move over, Joe Rogan – a daily Tucker podcast would be epic, but why stop there? He has the following and the ability to build his own internet network (his exec producer bailed too), and he could get the cash to do it – how about “Musk TV” available on Twitter? 

A daily Tucker interwebs show is not nuts. Who needs a network? Most of us used his cable show like it was an online program anyway. I used to record it daily on the cable box, then play it back later, speeding up through segments I was not interested in. If he was on Roku instead of basic cable, how would I know the difference? And for $5 a month, great – a lot of viewers could dump their $120+ cable bill.

The thing about Tucker is that he might end up being the transitional figure in the movement of conservatives away from network brand identification to individual brand identification. If Tucker chooses to go indy, you will not need to access Fox News or any other organization to get your daily Tucker fix. Podcasts are already spurring this on, but soon the transition away from leaving the radio dial set to 990AM KCON or the cable box set to Fox on Channel 643 all day will be complete. Instead, you will curate your listening and viewing, getting a show from here and then another show from there, and essentially making your own daily line-up. Someone will come up with the platform to do that easily and smoothly on whichever devices we choose for those of us who are not tech savvy. When it happens, the old media orgs will stop being networks as we once knew them and become simply another bunch of content steamtables in the content cafeteria.

So, advantage Tucker. He is not unemployed; he is unleashed. Fox may not think it needs Tucker – and that will remain to be seen – but Tucker certainly does not need Fox. Tucker is a conservative giant, with only Rush Limbaugh at all comparable in his standing within the conservative movement. The answer to the question “What will Tucker do now” is the same answer as the answer to the question about what the 800-pound gorilla will do: “Anything he wants.”

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