I blogged yesterday about the interview that Fox News personality Tucker Carlson had with Dutch historian Rutger Bregman where he was reduced to hurling childish insults. The interview had actually taken place last week and it looks like Carlson had hoped to bury it. But Bregman’s side of the interview was recorded in a studio at his end and he released it, taunting Carlson to also release it. So now Carlson had to respond. And he did but rather than showing the interview on his show or even explaining why he would not to his audience, he took the cowardly way out and did it online.
But it still gave Bregman another chance to make him look silly.
First Carlson gave his side of the events.
Carlson explained in his online video that he wanted to host Bregman on his show to “congratulate” him for lecturing the “global elites” at the Davos conference in Switzerland on how they can simultaneously care about climate change and fly around the world on private jets.
“Things went fine for the first few minutes but then Bregman launched into an attack on Fox News,” Carlson said. “It’s not clear that Bregman has ever seen Fox, but he wanted to make his point. Fine.” The part that set Carlson off was when Bregman claimed that his “corporate masters” tell him what to say on his show.
“You might not like it, but you’re a millionaire funded by billionaires,” Bregman told Carlson. “And that’s the reason you’re not talking about these issues.”
“That was too much,” Carlson replied Wednesday night. “Whatever my faults, or those of this channel, nobody in management has ever told us what positions to take. Never. Not one time. We have total freedom here and we’re grateful for that.” [My emphasis-MS]
If you have picked yourself off the floor after laughing, you can read Bregman’s response where he pointed out the obvious, that no serious person thinks that the western propaganda model works remotely like the way that Carlson is describing.
When Bregman shared the video with his Twitter followers on Wednesday, he added the Noam Chomsky quote he wished he had used to push back against Carlson in the moment: “I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying. But what I’m saying is that if you believe something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.”
His bosses do not need to tell Carlson what to say because they already knew when they hired him what he would say because either he already believes it (because he is an idiot) or because he knows what to say to please his bosses (because he is a craven opportunist).
This understanding of how the owners of the media exercise editorial control is pretty well established even if Carlson pretends not to know it.