Tucker Carlson’s reputation grew after he was fired by Fox News earlier this year. Even if you didn’t like the former 8 p.m. host, what drove his ratings was his willingness to flail away at conventional wisdom and to depart from safe spaces that most talk show hosts stick with.
He came across as maybe too hot for Fox News to handle.
Carlson tried to promote his brand as a truthteller. Meh. He has said plenty of things that weren’t exactly true.
But in a world of partisanship and tribalism, his willingness to challenge orthodoxy and narratives that needed to be challenged were often welcomed. He didn’t mind offending even the most sacred cows of the right and helped change the trajectory.
That’s Not Entertainment
Tucker fans weren’t exactly hoping for a tough interview with former President Donald Trump, but the hype surrounding the counterprogramming to the Fox News debate led us to believe that maybe the provocative host wanted to make news.
He blew that opportunity. Even worse, Tucker really harmed his own brand from this pre-taped 45-minute abyss.
Tucker is a good interviewer. He could have made the encounter with Trump even more substantive than the Fox News debate. We were sure the Tucker-Trump interview would probably be at least more entertaining than the Fox News debate. Wrong on both. The Trumpless debate had more substance and was ultimately even more entertaining than the Trump interview.
The interview was a big failure and tarnished Tucker’s reputation as a disrupter and narrative challenger. Asking Trump if he anticipated his political enemies would try to kill him was controversial for sure. But Trump didn’t have an answer, other than to talk more about his victim status.
Tucker’s questions to Trump about Jeffrey Epstein were interesting to say the least. But to what end? It had nothing to do with policies being debated in the presidential race.
Not that anyone was anticipating a policy wonk fest with these two.
Family Time With Tucker Carlson
But Tucker gained plenty of attention at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa in July, where he took down former Vice President Mike Pence on the issue of U.S. assistance to Ukraine.
At that same Iowa event, Carlson similarly went after former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson over the COVID-19 vaccine.
Trump has boasted, “I closed it up long before any of the experts thought I should – and saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” regarding his COVID-19 response policies that led to shutting down the economy. He also boasted about Operation Warp Speed, which led to the vaccine. However you feel about those policies, Tucker has made it clear he’ll attack other candidates on those issues.
But he never once asked Trump about either the lockdowns or the vaccine.
And what about Ukraine? Trump says he’ll end the war in 24 hours after taking office. And then what? Tucker essentially wants an abrupt defunding of Ukraine and is uninterested in negotiating some type of deal.
Again, we didn’t think he’d drop the hammer on Trump. But, come on. He’s Tucker. We expected something more. Without Fox, Carlson needs to build a new brand with his Twitter show. But he did nothing in this interview to motivate viewers to tune into future Twitter programs.
Tucker Carlson was clearly more interested in getting revenge against his ex-employer than providing something of value to his viewers in this counterprogramming. In the process, Carlson perhaps irreparably damaged his own brand.
Barbara Joanna Lucas is an opinion writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie.
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