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Pucker Carlson: Champion of cable sycophancy and cruelty

03 / 10 / 2023

I really do have more important writing to do at the moment than pen this first and last little ditty about Pucker Carlson. But if I don’t get it out, I’m going to vomit. 

I am in the process of weaning myself off cable “news.” It’s a longtime habit, and part of that diet is watching at least the monologues of Carlson and Greg Gutfeld. 

I like the Gutfeld show because he is comically talented and has a panel of guests who say interesting things. I disagree with much of it, but sometimes I see their point. Gutfeld can be rough, but like Real Time with Bill Maher, he goes about it in a funny way. In fact, the two TV hosts, one liberal and one conservative, have started a podcast together called “Club Random.” They disagree with each other, but also respect one another. 

The reason I’ve watched Pucker Carlson for some time is because he is a talented writer and thinker. I’d say I disagree with at least 80% of what Pucker says, but I can separate out the bullshit in his arguments and then judge the rest on the merits. I’ve written before in this space that if you can get past that passion in your political disagreement, it’s a good intellectual exercise to see how other arguments get framed by opposing philosophies. 

This week, Pucker was given tens of thousands of hours of exclusive security video of the January 6th insurrection by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Other media outlets were outraged. Not as much because the video was given as an exclusive — but that it was given to FOX — and would be seen only through the prism by which Pucker Carlson would choose to distill it through. There is not much trust left in the cable-sphere — and especially between opposing camps. But that enormous problem is a column for another day. 

Pucker took the 40,000 hours and reduced it to about four minutes of clips that he played on his show earlier this week. The four minutes he selected showed many people entering the Capitol without committing violence, as well as some entrances where law enforcement let them through. He did not show any of the feral group beatings of other people.

I found this annoying, even upsetting, but not maddening. Pucker Carlson is not a journalist, and he works for a corporation that is focused on building profits for shareholders and helping the conservative movement. If one doesn’t understand this up front, there’s no reason to ever watch FOX. 

Pucker Carlson must get ratings, or he’s gone. He has to kiss the asses of his viewers, like other cable polemicists. He’s also had to pucker up and kiss the ass of a man that we now know he detests. Through court filings in the Dominion case against FOX, we see that Pucker “hates Trump passionately,” and that he thinks Trump is “a demonic force.” He put a finer point on it when he described the whole term: 

“That’s the last four years. We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest. But come on. There isn’t really an upside to Trump.”

Of course, Pucker also knew that all of the election denying was a bunch of bullshit, as Trump’s Attorney General told us all two years ago. But Pucker had to keep kissing, he had to keep that pucker up. 

So this past week, as hugely embarrassed as he should have been about these admissions, Pucker knew that he had a gem in the exclusive video — because it gave him a captive audience. And this was an easy kiss to blow to his loyal audience. 

You might assume by now that all of Pucker’s hypocrisy around Trump and his TV twisting of the events of Jan. 6 is why I wrote above that this would be my first and last column about him. But it’s not. 

Last night, Thursday night, while Carlson was still info-taining a larger number of inquiring minds due to the circus he’d created, he abruptly changed the subject. He took the opportunity in his monologue to lace into the transgender community. He didn’t just pucker up and give his audience a conservative view about who should be able to compete in sports or a thoughtful opinion about what’s appropriate for what age groups in schools. He just lampooned the entire LGBTQ community. He made bully jokes and then howled at his own punchlines like a hyena. It was not thought-provoking — or funny even in a whimsical manner. It was just plain cruel. 

I could feel my anger physically rising as I watched this mean man. And I realized that “Pucker Carlson,” the nickname that came to me when I’d read all of his true Trump feelings, was a misnomer. “Fucker Carlson” is far more fitting. 

A few weeks ago, a conservative friend of mine said the following to me, knowing that I used to be very involved in Democratic politics: 

“C’mon, Goldie. Seriously. Don’t you think some of this woke stuff on the left has gone way too far?” 

First I told him that from a politically strategic standpoint, yes, sometimes it does. But it’s a far larger question than that — and a far longer conversation than we had time for. I did say that what’s politically smart and what is actually right in terms of an individual receiving the civil rights we all want to receive — those are not always the same thing. And it can get complicated. 

Last night, as I switched the channel away from Fucker in the middle of his tirade — for the last time — I wondered how his philosophy might be different if he had been born different. If he had grown up questioning his gender/sexuality, like so many people do in this world.   

I wonder if Fucker had grown up as a gay or transgender person, and had to either hide his identity or face painful judgment and persecution during his development, and then adult lite — would he present any of his views more thoughtfully and empathetically on TV? Would he even be able to work for Rupert Murdoch and still pucker up to a president that he “passionately hated?”

If I were a betting man, I’d wager plenty that he wouldn’t act like such a fucker. And he also wouldn’t have lost a viewer who at least liked to judge his wits for a few minutes each night. 

Cruelty is one of the worst acts that human beings can commit against one another. My curiosity is no match for it. 

Great riddance, Fucker.