Critic's Notebook: In Conservative Prime Time, It’s Now Fox and Enemies

Critic's Notebook: In Conservative Prime Time, It’s Now Fox and Enemies

- in Business
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Mr. Carlson is more fleur-de-sel-of-the-earth. Graced with the prep-school diction of a heel from a 1980s college comedy, he’s leaned into a smirky, confrontational persona since the days of CNN’s “Crossfire.”

But to assume the audience has to want to have a beer with Mr. Carlson to like “Tucker Carlson Tonight” is to misunderstand cable news and American politics.

Mr. Carlson understands that politics today — as followed by cable-news addicts like the one in the White House — is attitudinal, not ideological. The reason to be for someone is who is against them. What matters more than policy is your side’s winning, and what matters more than your side’s winning is the other side’s losing.

So the major product of much conservative news media, to quote a popular postelection souvenir mug, is liberal tears. And Mr. Carlson drinks them like a refreshing chablis.

Like Mr. O’Reilly, Mr. Carlson does not seek to interview his subjects but to defeat them. His quarry often includes minor Democratic politicians, strident activists and equivocating academics who seem cast as walking stock photos of “radical lefties.”