The National Review’s David French Downplays Tucker Carlson’s Sexism and Racism: Right-Wing Ideology is Not Oppressed

I’m not a huge fan of the National Review, to say the least. In fact, it’s the source of most things that I think are wrong with our current political climate in the United States of America. However, I think that it’s useful to regularly read from the National Review as their arguments usually “trickle-down” to other media outlets like Fox News. David French, a Never-Trump Republican who was depressingly a target of the alt-right’s racist “cuckservative” insults due to having a daughter adopted from Ethiopia, is no stranger to being under attack publicly. He likely held some level of camaraderie with Tucker Carlson when he wrote this article:

The Culture of Fake Outrage Comes for Tucker Carlson

for the National Review yesterday, where he defends Tucker Carlsons’ statutory rape apologia, sexism, and racism. I have quite a few major issues with his article so let’s break it down, piece by piece.

I don’t like what Tucker said, but here’s what is far, far worse for our nation and our culture than a pundit saying shocking things to a shock jock: the creation and sustainment of an outrage industry that spends millions of dollars (and countless manhours) in the quest to destroy the lives and careers of the people it dislikes.

Right away he uses a false dilemma, a commonly used but little known logical fallacy. He’s basically suggesting that we should be more concerned for the culture of outrage than we are about highly influential political media figures holding abhorrent views. Why? He never actually describes why, he just assumes this as the default at the start with no justification. That’s why this is a fallacy. He’s built a loose foundation upon a sandy beach.

Next he assumes the intent of his opponent. He assumes this is done out of mere dislike and not out of self-preservation or empathy for marginalized groups of people and the danger powerful political figures with regressive views about those marginalized groups represent. Isn’t this already abandoning the same principle of charity David French is apparently signaling to us that we should uphold for Tucker Carlson’s Racism and Sexism? He’s apparently oblivious to the immediate contradiction. Is he not making a martyr out of the people who feel threatened by Tucker Carlson as well?

Here’s the way it works. If you’re a conservative or a Republican who attains any kind of prominence at all, then the hunt is on. Media Matters has its rolling list of allegedly bad or silly things I’ve said and written, for example. And the more prominent you are, the more diligent the hunt.

Here reinforces the argument that as you get more powerful and influential in media, you are attacked and oppressed more than you were before. This only makes sense if you think losing your career or some ad revenue despite still being a multi-millionaire like Tucker Carlson is some kind of “oppression” that is worse than Tucker Carlson fueling racism and sexism in the country as an influencer. Intuitively, most people would empathize with one of these two hypothetical people:

  1. Being criticized for your ideas being morally abhorrent and your advertisers on your multi-million dollar show being pulled in response and maybe having to retire to a pile of money that could support your lavish lifestyle 200x over.
  2. Being the target of right-wing ideologues’ public calls for discrimination on account of your skin color, country of origin, or gender, during a time when far-right attacks against people like you are increasing, a wannabe dictator is doing what they can to target people like you harmfully, and irrational sentiments against people like you are on the rise.

I’m sure most people reading this can see that one is clearly worse than the other. Given that David French identifies as someone who has been criticized for his ideas and come under attack, it’s totally expected and human (but irrational) for him to prioritize number 1 over number 2, or consider it much worse. I think that people like French and Carlson become so detached from the reality that normal working class people, who aren’t in the public eye, live in. Who is going to shed a tear for the allegedly oppressed millionaire right-wing talk show hosts? Almost no one.

People will listen to hundreds of hours of radio shows or podcasts. They’ll watch tapes of cable news until their eyes glaze over. They’ll scan through hundreds of thousands of written words — letting the sum total of the person’s worldview and body of work wash over them — looking for that “gotcha” moment, the word or phrase that proves “the bad man really is bad.”

Here he ridicules the idea of investigative journalists doing fact-finding and chasing sources for information regarding the devious views secretly (or once held before prominence) of highly influential political figures advocating for sweeping policy changes that will negatively affect the lives of those people they hold disgusting views about.

Sounds like good journalism to me! Maybe rubbing elbows with fellow hacks like Carlson has made French never truly learn what journalism in politics is actually about. Not really sure what he’s sneering about in this bit, but I can hear it through text.

And let’s be clear, Tucker’s words aren’t “hurtful” or “offensive” in the truest sense.

Says the person who is not the target of such words and holds a political leaning that makes him unlikely to have any sympathy or empathy toward the targets of such words. I wonder how offended he’d be if the comments from Tucker Carlson included a comment about (hypothetically speaking) Republicans who adopt foreign born children are “race-traitors” or “cucking” themselves and contributing to “white genocide”.

Oh we know how that turned out, he got offended. I see… Interesting isn’t it. He’s straight, white, male, right-wing, and he doesn’t empathize with the targets that are largely not straight, not white, not male, and not left-wing. David French should honestly do some soul-searching and stop being so insular with his empathy. Good advice for all Republicans, personally.

At the time, they passed through the media ether without notice or comment. There were no outraged victims seeking redress. Nobody was crying sincere tears on camera because of the bad things a (then) MSNBC contributor said about them. And no one is really hurt today either. Instead, the atmosphere is one of vengeful glee. We got him now.

His ridicule of the timing is a disingenuous attempt to defame the intent and motives of anyone in the media he disagrees with. It’s not unknown to him or anyone else in media right now that the political climate regarding very edgy and offensive comments has changed in the past few years. We had the #MeToo movement since then. The political consciousness has been raised significantly. Generally, people are realizing that what you say when you have influence has real world consequences that can victimize others. We are starting to come around that political hate speech engenders some kind of increase in violence toward the afflicted targets. That’s why people are getting him now and not before. Not enough people took it as seriously until a self-admitted sexual assaulter, wannabe despot, and obvious racist like Donald Trump took the highest office in the land. Shit just got real. Time to take some real effective action against far right despots and far right extremist influencers in the media.

But note very carefully the process here. The person is truly rendered “bad” by his or her ideology. Pro-life? Republican? Conservative? Populist? Trumpist? Once you pass the ideological threshold that renders you an enemy, you’re fair game. The true intent is not to cleanse the public square of bad people. Otherwise, the search would be bipartisan, applying the same rules to both sides. The intent is to clear the public square of bad ideas, and if they have to destroy careers and reputations to do so, well then, that’s all the more fun.

Yes. Pro-life people want to abolish a woman’s right to personal bodily autonomy, that’s why pro-lifer’s are seen as having a morally abhorrent view to those of us on the left. The Republican’s party platform has been pro-life, anti-immigrant, downplaying racism and sexism as problems in society, advocating for more punitive prison and law enforcement practices, and basically a lack of care for the disabled, the impoverished, and the generally oppressed in our society. Conservatives for the most part fall-in line, especially Traditional Conservatives that think their own personal religious beliefs should be forced upon everyone else. There’s a good argument that the Evangelical Christians could be considered the “American Taliban”.

This isn’t “they’re bad so go get ’em” it’s “what they believe and push for politically are morally repugnant views with morally abhorrent outcomes, and it’s usually for their own personal comfort and unnecessary monetary gain, selfishly.” And they aren’t jsut bad ideas. Republican ideas are also not popular ideas. Because of money in politics and money in political media, ideas like “climate change isn’t caused by humans and it’s not a big problem” are propped up as if it’s a 50/50 split when in fact the overwhelming consensus among climatologists, and the popular polling done even among Republicans shows that it’s a minority fringe view to be a climate change denier. If all you do is watch Fox News and read the National Review, you are in a world where fringe extremist viewpoints are propped up as ordinary in favorable standing against more standard and well-backed opinions and policy positions.

So the dreary cycle repeats itself time and again. Kevin Williamson has the opportunity to speak to a different audience in The Atlantic? Well, let’s go to the podcast archives.Well, let’s go to the podcast archives. Bari Weiss is making an impact at the New York Times? Let’s reexamine (and mislead people about) her college activism. Ben Shapiro is drawing crowds? Let’s make him answer (again) for years-old tweets. Sometimes the Twitter outrage claims a scalp. Sometimes it doesn’t. But always it deepens our public divide. Always it leads some people to dismiss other ideas and other people on the basis of partial information, deliberate distortions, and sheer partisan animus.

More of the, “Oh Poor Conservatives/me” complaining here. How does this paragraph translate to other historical examples of people in power who have done what was considered right-wing things at the time. Let’s satire this paragraph a bit:

So the dreary cycle repeats itself time and again. Bull Connor (Commissioner of Public Safety for Birmingham, Alabama in the 60’s) has the opportunity to speak to a different audience about the nuance of civil rights activism at the New York Times? Well let’s go to the historical archives that show he pushed for racial segregation, stronger punishment for black people than whites, and how he turned a blind eye to the KKK’s violence toward black people in his city.

Hrmm. It’s pretty revealing that things we generally agree on that are abhorrent are perfectly fair things to bring up when someone is trying to be convincing on a nationally syndicated platform. Well, conservatives will agree when it’s something that’s more obviously wrong to them. So the principle they are using is not what they are adhering to. It’s merely a component of their current ignorance of seeing it from a leftist’s perspective how it comes across. French’s dismissiveness here is only preaching to the choir.

If we doubt the bad faith of the process, consider the glaring double standards. If you’re a progressive — if your ideas are deemed good — then media grace abounds.

Oh goody, he’ll give us examples of the double standard and of the left-wing media silence about equivalent situations on the left:

Colin Kaepernick can dehumanize cops as pigs, and we should just move on.

So… Colin Kaepernick calling cops pigs is roughly morally equivalent to Tucker Carlson saying, regarding the idea of underage girls experimenting with each other at boarding school, “If it weren’t my daughter I would love that scenario.” These are the same morally and in principle. Additionally, the common leftist media didn’t ignore Kaepernick’s pig socks.

Here’s famed leftist-ran fact-checking website Snopes going into detail about it.

A quick google search reveals plenty of media outlets covering the instance. But is the instance of him wearing some goofy socks that take a jab at cops as news-worthy and morally abhorrent as Tucker Carlson saying that criminal charges shouldn’t have been brought against someone who arranged a marriage between a 27-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl? Only the right wing media outlets seem to think so. I wonder why?

Ta-Nehisi Coates can say awful things about the heroic cops and firefighters who made their doomed climb up the stairs of the Twin Towers on 9/11, and that’s but a trifle — not even worth considering compared with his “essential” body of work. He gets a genius grant.

Now what is he referring to here? Well Ta-Nehisi Coates is a famous author and outspoken activist on behalf of black issues in America. He wrote a book titled Between the World and Me and it had a controversial quote that conservatives love to cite to discredit Coates (despite French complaining about discrediting people for things they’ve said, or something):

They were not human to me. Black, white, or whatever, they were menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could — with no justification — shatter my body.

Ta-Nehisi Coates in Between the World and Me in reference to the first responders on 9/11.

So is Coates calling for firefighters and police officers’ dehumanization, saying awful things about them? No. Not sure why a journalist and author such as David French hasn’t read the work he’s criticizing. What Coates’ point was, is that white supremacy makes a system in which people’s individual actions are informed by a broken system and causes them to act badly, and he too is a victim of this systemic pressure. Just before this quote-mine, he is contrasting them with the police officer that gunned down his Princeton University schoolmate Prince Jones. He’s saying even though their actions are completely different morally (one selfless and the best of humanity, the other an example of the worst humanity has to offer), a broken white supremacist system has an impact on his ability to empathize with them. He’s just being thorough in analyzing the total victims and bad outcomes and impacts of white supremacy itself. He rebukes this fact about how he felt as well following the quote-mine. As the NYTimes review of Coates’ book critically puts it:

There is a Manichaean tone to some of the passages in this book, and at times, a hazardous tendency to generalize. After Sept. 11, he writes that he could “see no difference between the officer” who had gunned down his Howard University schoolmate Prince Jones a year earlier — firing 16 shots at the unarmed young man, who was on his way to visit his fiancée — and the police and firefighters who lost their own lives in the terrorist attacks: “They were not human to me. Black, white, or whatever, they were menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could — with no justification — shatter my body.”

This startling passage seems meant not to convey a contempt for the first responders on Sept. 11, but to underscore the depth of Mr. Coates’s emotion over the loss of his friend and his anger at police killings of unarmed black men — killings that represent to him larger historical forces at work in American society, in which black men and women were enslaved, their families and bodies broken, and in which terrible inequities continue to exist. Yet it could be easily taken out of context, and it distracts attention from Mr. Coates’s profoundly moving account of Prince Jones’s brief life, and the grief of his mother, a woman who had worked her way up from the “raw poverty of her youth” to become an eminent doctor, trying to provide her children with comfortable — and most of all, safe — lives, which, in Prince’s case, would be cavalierly taken away one night by a police officer later found guilty of negligence and excessive force.

from Michiko Kakutani’s NYTimes Review of the Book

So I’m curious why Republicans and conservatives all seem to unanimously take Coates out of context and completely misrepresent the meaning behind this quote? Is honesty not a traditional conservative value that is important to them? Or maybe they don’t understand what they are reading. Either way, being necessarily reduced to either stupid or a liar is not such a great look. On to the next example of alleged leftist inconsistencies and double standards, from the French article:

Joy Reid can say bad things and then spin out the wildest, strangest tale about “hacking,” and it’s all just fine. Her MSNBC time slot is secure.

Well it looks like Joy Reid came under fire from the left for her old comments, and many allegedly leftist media outlets covered the story in detail like Vox, the Washington Post (multiple times), the New York Times, and The Hill. All articles had a tone that was either stating all the facts clearly or expressing/representing moral outrage against her for her abhorrent views. I’m not sure how this example fits into David French’s conspiracy theory, the evidence is clear. She did something bad, apologized for it, got hit again for a half apology, and says that she doesn’t hold those views today. Did Tucker Carlson apologize and admit that his views were abhorrent and that he’s grown and become a better person today? Nope. Clearly David French’s rhetorical tool of choice is the false equivalency, he uses it over, and over, and over again.

And let’s not even get started about the many bad tweets of the New York Times’s Sarah Jeong. “Good” people make mistakes, right? Or maybe — according to progressive think pieces — they’re not even mistakes but rather expressions of understandable outrage in the face of an oppressive culture.

You know, for a bunch of people who typically say “what, can’t you take a joke, you triggered little snowflakes?!” like clockwork anytime someone on their side says some truly abhorrent garbage… They sure do love to harp on the cherry-picked occasional centre-left problematic individual who has openly apologized or who was obviously using satire. Maybe David French lacks so much emotional intelligence his satire-dar is out of alignment.

Disclaimer: I don’t actually believe that human beings or David French come equipped with a device called a satire-dar and I do not claim to actually have a psychological analysis and an emotional intelligence test of David French on hand. I was using this thing called a snarky attempt at lazy comedy. Look it up sometime.

Sarah Jeong apologized, but also explained that the posts were satire out of frustration at the hoards of sexist racist nutjobs that bombarded her on twitter for so long. Seems plausible to me. Was Tucker Carlson harassed into calling into a radio show and bemoaning the plight of grown men who would be sent to prison for having sex with teenage girls? Was it all satire? No, these were his legitimate opinions, and he hasn’t really directly apologized for them. It’s a pretty different situation Mr. French.

I don’t like many of Tucker Carlson’s ideas. As I’ve written at length, I think his embrace of victimhood populism is bad for the nation and bad for the conservative movement.

I bolded that bit for comedic emphasis. Oh how ironic. He doesn’t even know. He’s very concerned about a culture of victimhood in the conservative movement, as he writes a screed bemoaning how unfair it is for the conservatives with generally morally repugnant opinions to have those opinions publicly revealed and consequences happen to them as a result, how unfair it is to allegedly victimize them and attack them.

Hilarious.

I’ve tried to follow his show, but I find his brand of right-wing outrage journalism tiresome and destructive in its own right. But we should respond to his arguments with arguments of our own. We should debate him on the air and in print. And if we don’t like his show, we can change the channel.

Not only is this yet again a hypocritical thing to say (as David French is expressing right-wing journalist outrage that people who have sponsors may be hold accountable for what they say by potential customers of those sponsors), but French is overly idealistic about the “free marketplace of ideas” narrative in my view. David thinks that bad ideas will just go away if you ignore them. The problem is… The ideas espoused on Fox News are the most well-funded by private interests out of any other platforms for ideas by other networks. The ideas aren’t even popular, but they have the widest reach. Surely, David French doesn’t think that US citizens are inoculated against propaganda… Right?

Oh, that’s right, he writes for the National Review. It’s a fundamental component of their business model to write propaganda.

Our nation cannot maintain its culture of free speech if we continue to reward those who seek to destroy careers rather than rebut ideas.

The “destruction” of their careers is literally people pointing out their bad ideas and then saying to the sponsors using their own free speech “if you support this guy, I won’t like you anymore, so you’d better not give him money.” What is more American than the freedom to boycott? Also, wasn’t it conservatives that supported the idea of a corporation being a person, and money being speech? Guess that principle doesn’t apply when a corp-person-ation decides how they want to speak their money freely. Some economic liberty he believes in.

And when you reward a Media Matters search-and-destroy fishing expedition with calls for boycotts or reprisals, then you are doing your part to destroy debate.

Media Matters’ website seems to indicate that they are far less “rewarded” than National Review’s or Fox News’ for their particular use of the platform. Seems like there’s some kind of economic incentive to NOT be Media Matters and TO be Fox News. Interesting, isn’t it?

It’s vengeful. It’s cowardly. And it’s exactly the online world that spiteful partisans want to build.

Yes writing stories citing facts about powerful people, and then the journalists getting mass death threats…

How cowardly of them.

David French, I mean this sincerely… You really should read this in a light that is critical of yourself, align your personal values with your actions, and improve your understanding. I’m not sure why you take the side of a powerful multi-millionaire that dog-whistles against people that look like your daughter, doing so on behalf of even more powerful multi-billionaires… over the side of the working class, the downtrodden, the tired, the poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the marginalized oppressed groups of a different color of skin than your own, a different economic background than your own, and a different gender than your own.

Right-wingers on the internet typically say stuff like “grow a pair”. I’d encourage you, Mr. French, to grow a heart.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *