September 15, 2003
A curious underestimation

Several people have noted this Salon interview with Tucker Carlson, mostly for his unflattering words about Karen Hughes. Reading through the interview for myself this morning, I was struck by a comment that I haven't seen anyone else mention so far:

Q. But that's not true of a lot of these guys. A lot of the Fox stars, for example, come from right-wing radio, where a blowhard, black-and-white approach that strictly follows a partisan line works really well.

A. Well, what I think the problem is in general and, not just with Fox, but the genre, is that it encourages you to use a straw man. So for example you see hosts bring on, "This is Jeffrey Mohammed X, and he's the president of the Association to Kill White Motherfuckers," and he'll be presented as a spokesman for black America. And then the host will say, "Well, how can you support lynching white people? That's just wrong!"

Well, of course, it's wrong! This guy doesn't represent anybody! The classic flipside, which I've seen much more, is that you get some 62-year-old, semi-retarded cracker whose like the lone member of his chapter of the KKK, and he represents white supremacists. How many white supremacists are there in America? There are about nine, and they're all mentally retarded.

I'm pretty sure the Southern Poverty Law Center, which lists 708 active hate groups in America in 2002, would be surprised to hear that. I understand Carlson's basic point, and he does have a point (though of course I'd argue that not having actual mainstream liberals on the air to represent liberal viewpoints is a much more widespread problem), but that doesn't mean he should downplay a very real problem. To paraphrase a well-known Senator from the South, if what Carlson said about white supremacists were true, then we wouldn't have all these problems.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 15, 2003 to Society and cultcha | TrackBack

It would be less important if the 9 mentally retarded white supremacists weren't in the Senate.

Posted by: Michael on September 15, 2003 12:59 PM

I think Tuck's got a point, even if it doesn't hold up under literal investigation: He's saying that leaders of radical, splinter hate groups in America are given disproportionate airtime in certain media (ie, conservative talk radio). Pointing to the worst fringe elements of the other side of the aisle is often an abusive, misleading strategy; at the very least, it's unconstructive. (Much like talk radio.)

Posted by: Kriston on September 15, 2003 3:51 PM