Tucker Carlson had a televised meltdown on Monday Night that was chock full of ignorance, misinformation and downright dangerous advice. In other words, it was just another day at the office for Fox News’ most-watched propaganda host.
During his two-minute long rant on his prime-time show, Carlson derided masks as signs of obedience that only “zealots and neurotics” wear outside. It’s not just a ridiculous statement, but patently false. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Watch his entire diatribe below.
Think about how what Carlson said and the danger his words could cause. The host of a nationally-televised cable TV show is imploring his viewers to go harass people who are wearing masks outside — an act that is actually quite the selfless act, because wearing the mask has been done to protect others as much as it is for self-protection.
He then somehow found a way to go even lower in the same monologue by saying that it should be illegal for kids to wear masks outside. He compared parents who have their children wear masks outside to child abusers, and told his viewers to call the cops on them.
In a column for the NY Daily News, S.E. Cupp wrote that Carlson’s anti-mask platform is just a cynical, dishonest attempt at outrage-peddling to inflame his audience, to further “own the libs.”
It’s easy to dismiss Carlson’s histrionics as performative and shamelessly trolling for ratings. And there are many reasons to not take him seriously, especially about masks, since he was in favor of wearing masks at one point. Even Fox News’ own lawyers have successfully argued in court that no reasonable person should take what Carlson says on his nightly show seriously.
The problem is, many people do take what he says seriously. And that’s fine. People have the right to watch whatever they want, and Fox News has the right to broadcast anything they want, truth be hanged. The issue here, that we mentioned in our headline, is that Tucker Carlson’s show is largely subsidized by the cable TV fees paid by millions of Americans who never watch a second of Carlson’s show or anything on Fox News.
That’s right. You see, despite being the highest-rated cable news program, Carlson’s show brings in very few advertising dollars. Why? That’s easy to explain. Advertisers have found his hate-filled, white supremacy-laced program toxic for quite some time. Aside from the My Pillow Guy, the only ads you’re likely to see on a given night during Carlson’s show are promos for other Fox shows. In the TV biz, ad dollars are key…except at Fox.
The network collects an astounding $1.6 billion in carriage fees each year from cable companies that carry Fox News. Judd Legum writes in his Popular Information newsletter that the network made more in carriage fees last year ($1.6B) than it did in ad dollars ($1.2B). That’s why Fox can weather advertiser boycotts that occur when Carlson spouts lies, like when he claimed immigrants are making America “poorer and dirtier.”
You know who pays for those carriage fees that not only keep him on the air, but pay his estimated $10 million annual salary? Cable subscribers. Even the people who can’t find Fox News on their cable system without a channel guide.
A survey last year indicated about 14% of cable TV subscribers watch Fox News regularly. But every cable TV subscriber pays an average of $1.72 a month to receive Fox News. In contrast, 31% of cable TV subscribers regularly watch FX (owned by Disney) but the channel adds just $0.81 to an average cable bill.
So that’s how America’s cable TV subscribers are subsidizing Tucker Carlson’s nightly blasts of misinformation, xenophobia and white supremacist dog whistles. Does that upset you? If you’re a person with moderately sane thought processes who has a healthy respect for truth and facts, it should. But what exactly can you do about it?
Great question. The easiest way to make sure you don’t give one more dime to underwrite Carlson’s show (or anything on Fox News) is to cut the cord, and it’s not that easy. But it can be done and still get most of the viewing options you want. Here’s a useful guide to explain how to go about cutting the cord.
Barring that drastic move, putting pressure on major cable operators like Comcast, Spectrum, and AT&T is the logical next step. If these companies offered cable TV packages that excluded Fox News (much like how HBO or Showtime are separate channels that you pay extra for) then viewers could make sure their monthly subscription doesn’t subsidize a channel whose content they don’t want to support. So far, only one major cable provider, Verizon FIOS, offers a basic cable package that excludes Fox News.
If more companies would provide options for people to select cable packages that don’t make Fox News a mandatory addition, the network’s revenue would almost certainly drop. And perhaps that would finally force Lachlan Murdoch, the CEO of the company, to take some action and rein in his on-air host and the crazy ideas he often delivers.