Tucker Carlson’s analysis of the debate was a flop.
This was his basic thesis: Joe Biden seemed reasonable while pushing a radical agenda, whereas Trump seemed radical by pushing a reasonable agenda.
“Trump could make a wine list sound menacing” is truly a great line, whether I agree with his thesis or not.
Interestingly however, Tucker said that we were all wrong to talk about how senile Biden is, just as Biden is wrong to call Trump a racist, because personal attacks don’t work and people only care about what you do. Then he said that people are going to vote based on tone.
So, which is it? Do they care about what you do or do they care about tone?
All three of these points are relevant:
- Are people swayed by personal attacks? (1b: Is pointing out that Joe is senile a “personal attack”?)
- Do people care primarily about what a politician does?
- How much do people care about a politician’s tone?
Maybe you could take those three issues and write a 700 word monologue that was good. But this one wasn’t good, and Tucker needs to be asking why it is that all three of those things needed to be shoved into this segment.
For the record, I think the core concept he was driving for is that people care more about presentation than content, but that point was made impossible by also injecting that “people care what politicians do,” which is probably almost completely false. If you wanted to get the issue of personal attacks in there, you would say that the personal attacks can detract from the presentation of the person making them while rarely doing damage to the person receiving them. But it’s whatever. All of that stuff didn’t need to be shoved into this monologue.
If I were him, I would have started with “the illusion of reasonableness” and worked backward out of that. And maybe that’s what he did and it just got garbled up.
I got the feeling watching the segment that Trump had taken debate advice from Tucker, and then ignored it, and Tucker was frustrated by that. What Tucker probably told him to do, I would assume, is to nail Biden down on the issues of radicalism. You saw some of that in the debate, to the point where you can see that someone told Trump to do that, but Trump was too focused on visceral humiliation to spend much time on that. Obviously, I am a fan of Trump’s performance, so my perception is going to be different than Tucker’s regardless, but even understanding Tucker’s position, the monologue wasn’t good.
Overall, I think Tucker has really been dropping the ball since he agreed to fire his head writer. This was an important segment that left me simply confused. If I was confused, then it didn’t say much to the two target audiences of the show, which are normal Americans and Donald Trump himself.
The funny thing is how well I’m personally able to understand what Tucker is dealing with as a writer that needs to pump out an essay about a topic that he doesn’t get to choose in a limited timeframe. He gets up in the morning and has to have the thing done on time, and if he’s not happy with what he has, it doesn’t matter, he has to run it.
I’ve experienced the feeling of spending hours putting together a piece about a current event and then looking at it after it’s published and saying, “this really wasn’t very clear, and someone could take this thing here to mean something different, and the way I failed to flesh this part out makes it seem to contradict this part over here…” and so on.
I don’t really have that problem so much anymore, because I’ve spent so much time in this field that I’m a master of it. I’m not a master of prose, mind you, but I am a master of putting together ideas and presenting them clearly using plain language. It’s a sham that I can’t go work on Tucker’s writing staff, because I would love to do it. But because that is impossible, and because he agreed to be bullied into firing his last writer, he needs to get another sharp millennial who reads this site to lead his writing staff.
Tucker has two primary jobs:
- To be the voice of reason for the American people, and
- To advise Donald Trump
He doesn’t need to do a deep analysis of the psychology of voters. What he did in this segment is the definition of “getting caught in the weeds.” He should have simply focused on the point that Biden seemed reasonable while pushing a radical agenda, without including all of these other ideas. If he wanted to flesh those ideas out, he could have done it in a later segment in the show that doesn’t carry the weight of the opening monologue.
Six and a half minutes into the monologue, just before he began staging the next segment, he told Trump to stop talking about how he let a bunch of black people out of prison. That is solid advice. But he’d already complained about Trump’s tone and basically praised Biden’s tone, so it’s unlikely Trump is going to hear that.
It’s obviously easy for me to sit here and complain. I’m not the one who has to be on Fox News every night, speaking to the largest audience in the history of television news. So I’m not condemning Tucker. I simply want to make it clear that I believe very strongly that he needs to reorganize his writing staff, and tighten up the monologue. We don’t know how much longer he’s going to be on air, but as long as he is on air, he is the most important person in this country.