Fox News host Tucker Carlson has gotten blowback over a recent segment on his show in which he questioned the idea that diversity is America's strength.
Carlson is a product of his viewers
Fox News' Tucker Carlson recently asked his audience a question: "How precisely is diversity our strength?"
The conservative cable personality then wondered aloud whether differences within a population could ever foster cohesion within institutions from marriage to the military.
"Do you get along with your neighbors or co-workers if you can't understand each other or share no common values?" he asked.
Naturally, the segment immediately sparked backlash on social media, with viewers bashing the talking head for the thinly veiled bigotry of his argument, which stank of the old school sort of prejudice by which liberal America still finds itself shocked.
Taking to Twitter in self-defense, Carlson said his message had been distorted and slammed leaders for not asking what he felt were serious questions.
"Instead, they're trying to silence anyone who raises them, while at the same time promoting mindless tribalism for political expedience," he wrote. "Division keeps them in power."
He’s right. Our leaders are endorsing tribalism, seeding division, and silencing opposition. Disdain for those deemed "the other," whether for reasons of politics, race, ethnicity or gender, has fractured not only the news media but also Washington and the U.S. citizenry itself.
Fox News, a virtual mouthpiece for the Trump administration, has acted as its ideological merchant, mongering fear and even contempt for outsiders.
More media analysis: Donald Trump is scared of facts, news media
Hey, Twitter, Alex Jones and Donald Trump are a package deal
But arguments against Carlson's discriminatory rhetoric are tired. It has all been said before.
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple pointed to hard facts to disprove Carlson’s suggestion that diversity brews discord, citing studies on the societal benefits of multiculturalism, and noting that even Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox supports that conclusion.
But Carlson's not interested in facts, and to presume he isn't aware of such realities would be to underestimate his intelligence. This is a game he knows very well, and reason and rationality aren't at play. If that's what you're seeking to counter his rhetoric, you're already two steps behind.
If you’re concerned, focus not on him, but on whom he represents: millions of viewers.
Simply put, he is a product bought by a large swath of the country that has indeed reverted to tribalism. For the first time in a long time, following the era of the nation's first black president, they see white nationalism entering back into the mainstream, and the ideas of segregated marriages and segregated militaries seem now almost palatable to the general public. It's a new kind of racism. One that everyday America can stomach again because it's the Friday night special on one of the nation's most highly consumed networks.
But mocking Carlson for that is a Catch-22. In doing so, you will have reinforced his claim that he and his supporters are being silenced and branded racists, and that their right to free speech is being suffocated by a mob of politically correct trolls. Such is the state of our echo chamber-filled country where we don’t need to hear anyone who doesn’t fit our bias, because the buffet of opinion is rich with alternatives.
In Carlson’s words, "What's at stake isn't a cable news segment. It's the existence of rational conversation in America."
Amy Russo is a writer for Mediaite, covering media and politics. You can follow her on Twitter: @amymrusso.
What others are saying
Erik Wemple, The Washington Post: "At least Tucker Carlson lives his principles. He sticks up for white people all the time on his program, in ways that just so happen to appeal to racists. As for the diversity on the staff of 'Tucker Carlson Tonight,' we've asked Fox News for a rundown. We are awaiting a response. Finally, the suggestion that people from different backgrounds cannot easily share values and speak to one another sounds a lot like something one of those wacky Fox News guests would say on air. Policing such outbursts has been one of the priorities of recently elevated Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott, though this time the malefactor is a table-setting prime-time host."
Carla Herreria, HuffPost: "Carlson is apparently ignoring the many benefits of diversity: Studies show that diverse groups are more innovative and creative, diverse groups encourage people to think on a global level, and diversity makes America’s workforce and militaries more competitive. ... While Carlson is no stranger to attacks on liberal values ― this definitely is not his first rant against diversity ― many people are still confused about why he doesn’t see its benefits, especially in the military."
To join the conversations about topics on USA TODAY, email [email protected]om, comment on Facebook, or use #tellusatoday on Twitter.