The ‘new’ face of Fox News
Minutes into Fox News’s 8 o’clock programming last night, Tucker Carlson looked into the camera and said, “It’s all so bewildering. Things are changing really fast.” He was talking about health care legislation, but the statement could also be applied to his own rise to the most coveted real estate in the cable news landscape. Today, as Carlson wraps up his second week in the chair long occupied by Bill O’Reilly, we check in with the new face of Fox.
For CJR, Shaya Tayefe Mohajer says Carlson has “a real opportunity for him to become the respected gentleman journalist his famed bowtie always wanted him to be.” In the 1990s and early 2000s, Carlson built a journalism reputation as a conservative contrarian, writing most notably for The Weekly Standard. His byline appeared in Esquire, New York, and The New York Times Magazine. But cable news beckoned, and Carlson shifted his efforts to the screen. He passed through CNN and MSNBC before landing at Fox News in 2009, where he was a bit player until the departures of three evening hosts allowed him to vault into the network’s most valuable timeslot.
With O’Reilly’s forced exit over charges of sexual harassment, some in the media (myself included) hoped Fox’s flagship program might take on a more journalistically serious tone. So far, with few exceptions, that has not been the case. Mohajer, who pulls no punches in her column, writes that “Carlson’s early outings suggest the 47-year-old anchor intends to dutifully maintain the bedtime ritual of millions of aging Americans who want to growl at their televisions until it’s time to soak their dentures and dream of an America where many of us didn’t exist.”
Nothing changes: Variety’s Sonia Saraiya reviews Carlson’s new show, which she says follows “a template of the exact same demonizing, disingenuous rhetoric that has characterized his style for years and Fox News’ strategy for decades.”
I hate to break it to you, gentle reader, but fake facts are nothing new. We are designed by evolution to invent fake facts, fervently believe in them, and even defend them to the death. Still, there is something about the current epidemic of fake facts that should scare us into action.
Imagine grading everything you ever said according to two criteria: 1) How well it corresponds to what’s actually out there, and 2) what it causes you and others to do. These can be called factual realism and practical realism, respectively, and they are so familiar that we use the word “realistic” in both senses without needing to think about it. If we’re at an art gallery and I comment on how a portrait is realistic, I mean that it corresponds closely to the person being depicted (factual realism). When you outline your latest get rich quick scheme over lunch and I call it unrealistic, I mean that it probably won’t work out well for you (practical realism). All of us are experts at toggling between factual realism mode and practical realism mode as warranted by the situation.
Read the essay at the source : The Evolution Institute.
There is a vast body of literature on how to do well, how to be happy, what to do and choose for one’s own benefit and that of others. This body covers a range from the vulgar to the great moral philosophers. We are not short of such analyses or guidance.
In contrast, the body of work which considers our failure to do well and be good is decidedly smaller, and also, it must be said, rather lamer, particularly in its power to explain why we fall into foolish beliefs, make bad decisions and commit hurtful acts. We remain opaque to others and to ourselves, thinking, acting and responding in ways which are harmful, counter-productive and baffling. Most baffling of all is our propensity to continue in these patterns, to compound error with error and throw good vigorously after bad. [Source]