Mikkel Danielsen had a strange piece out in Berlingske yesterday:
Fox News’s big star put a video out on the internet. Then the hosts burst into conflict.
Mikkel Danielsen, Berlingske.dk, Nov 25
(“Then the hosts burst into conflict” is a lousy translation of a Danish colloquialism for which there’s no handy English equivalent, so the clunkiness there is in my translation.)
The gist of the piece is that Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the most-watched personality on American news, has apparently produced a documentary about the January 6 mess: a documentary so controversial that “it got two well-known Fox News employees to quit their jobs and other of the TV station’s star hosts to complain to management. This, according to NPR among others.”
The two “employees,” we learn, were Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes. The “star hosts” who complained to management were Chris Wallace and Brett Baier.
If you don’t follow American conservative politics, this sounds like quite the uproar: two conservative commentators cut their contracts with Fox! Two Fox hosts complained to management! This Tucker Carlson fellow must really be in the shit!
If, on the other hand, you’ve been following American conservative politics, this is hardly even a story.
This quartet of malcontents lost all standing with actual American conservatives years ago. They haven’t been supportive of conservative principles since Trump declared his candidacy. Most of them advocated a vote for Hillary Clinton (or Potemkin Republican Evan McMullin) in 2016, and doubled down with a vote for Joe Biden in 2020: that anyone could support either of those candidates and still call themselves a conservative is difficult enough to swallow, but it goes beyond that. This crowd first turned their objections to Trump into objections to Trump supporters; then, as it emerged that the overwhelming majority of Republicans were actually Trump supporters, they were stuck objecting to Republicans.
When Carlson put the video out, Danielsen informs us:
Fox News’s frequently used political commentator Jonah Goldber sent an SMS to his friend Stephen Hayes, who also pops up often on the tv channel.
“I’m tempted to leave Fox News on account of this,” said the message, according to the New York Times.
“I’m ready,” Stephen Hayes answered promptly.
The two political commentators quit.
And most actual conservatives in America said, “Good riddance.”
(Note that so far Danielsen’s inside-baseball article about American conservatives has quoted NPR and the New York Times.)
Danielsen wants his readers to think the episode represents a conservative backlash against Carlson, so he lays out what he believes to be this duo’s conservative bona-fides while taking an absurd swipe at Fox News:
They are conservatives of another time, and now their time has run out. They have held senior positions at center-right magazines such as The Weekly Standard and National Review. Their heroes are George W. Bush, John McCain and all the Americans who fought proudly in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They will no longer work for a Fox News that has been totally transformed by Donald Trump, and where the biggest star flirts unrestrained with baseless accusations of election fraud, misinformation, and conspiracy theories.
Where they gonna go? MSNBC? CNN? NPR? The New York Times, the Washington Post? Such men of conscience obviously could not, because all of those outlets “flirted unrestrained” with manufactured accusations of election fraud (in 2016), misinformation (Russian Collusion), and conspiracy theories (ditto). For more than four years.
Has Danielsen ever watched Rachel Maddow? Don Lemon? Chris Cuomo? Joy Reid? The View?
Also, the bit about “their heroes” is a little tone-deaf—and the obvious implication that Trump supporters do not hold “the Americans who fought proudly” in high esteem is just slimy.
And wait: how did these SMSes find their way into the media, anyway? How on earth did NPR and the New York Times get a hold of private messages between Goldberg and Hayes?
“Patriot Purge (Carlson’s documentary) uses images of waterboarding and gives the impression that half of the country will be subjected to that treatment,” Stephen Hayes told The New York Times, explaining that he fears the documentary series will give some viewers an impression “that they are involved in an armed conflict between right and left:
“It’s really dangerous.”
Okay, so the staunch and principled conservative Stephen Hayes went running to the New York Times to whine about Carlson’s documentary, and (presumably) to let the Times know what heroes he and Goldberg were with those stunning and brave text messages they (allegedly) sent each other.
Because all staunch and principled conservatives go running to the New York Times.
Danielsen then turns back to NPR to tell us that Bret Baier and Chris Wallace were both “deeply worried” by the content of Carlson’s documentary. They think Carlson’s on the way down a dangerous path and have asked management to stop him.
Hm: how you figure NPR got the scoop on the internal conflicts at Fox? Because despite what you might think, that’s actually not an outlet that staunch and principled conservatives typically run to.
Danielsen’s shot his wad at this point, and just goes on and on trying to read more into the tea leaves, with additional backup from the usual leftist sources.
Finally he concludes:
If you thought the conservative United States would start to look like itself again once Donald Trump lost, you were wrong.
The conservative United States is undergoing a transformation—maybe forever.
Feel a breeze? It’s my sigh.
If you round up 100 American conservatives right now—from anywhere in America—and interview them about their core beliefs, you’re going to get more or less the same answers you would have ten, 20, 30, even 40 years ago: less government, lower taxes, stronger military, equality before the law, equality of opportunity, first amendment, second amendment, limit abortions, and leave me alone.
Round up and interview 100 American leftists, and a lot them are going to drown you in a gushing torrent of mushy thoughts about concepts that weren’t even part of the normal Democrat’s vocabulary ten years ago, let ago 20. You’re going to hear about equity, privilege, fragility, heternormativity, allyship, and how dare you question my lived experience?
The notion that American conservatives have become extreme and even violent and dangerous is in very hot circulation on the left. It’s something that NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC have been pushing for years. And yet where’s the political violence coming from? Over and over again? Wasn’t it a “Bernie Bro” that opened fire on a bunch of Congressional Republicans playing baseball? Wasn’t it progressives who rioted, looted, and burned cities (including Kenosha) across the nation last year? Was it not progressives who actually established “autonomous zones” in that period? Was it not Democratic politicians like Maxine Waters calling on their supporters to harass the political opposition in public? Who’s vandalizng statues? Which administration surrounded the capitol with barbed wire and armed troops? I could keep going. (But I don’t need to: just browse this blog.)
I haven’t seen Patriot Purge. But let’s assume it’s an absolute froth of tin-foil hat lunacy. Let’s assume it’s Tucker Carlson saying over and over that January 6th was a Reichstag Fire, and comparing Democrats to Nazis, and comparing Joe Biden to Hitler, and warning that Democrats want to put us all back in chains.
What precisely would he be doing that the entire leftist media establishment hasn’t been doing for the past five years? What would he be saying about the left that Joe Biden hasn’t said about the right?
Hell, what would he be saying that the left hasn’t said about every Republican president, or candidate for president, for the last half century?
To quote Jonah Goldberg against himself: to hell with these people.
It would have been a nice clean ending to stop right there, but there’s one more thing, and it’s too big a thing to leave unsaid.
And it’s not the simple fact that Danielsen seems to be suggesting that Fox is moving dangerously rightward. Anyone know how Danielsen felt about the channel’s orientation when it was dominated by Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Brit Hume’s “All-Stars?” two decades ago? Because all we ever heard at the time, from all the same swooning left-wing outlets, was how beyond the pale those programs were. Dangerous!
No, that’s interesting, but it’s not the most interesting thing. The most interesting thing is actually a question: why did Danielsen write this story?
He’s Berlingske’s USA correspondent, based in Washington D.C.
You know who’s having an even harder time that Tucker Carlson right now?
The President of the United States.
Instead of chronicling the hissy fits of some perpetual malcontents at Fox News, Danielsen could have done some reporting on the conflicts within the White House, where (among other things) hostilities between the Biden and Kamala Harris camps broke out into the open last week.
He could have explored the phenomenon of an America president possibly having opened himself up to legal action when, as a candidate, he referred to Kyle Rittenhouse as a “white supremacist.” Without evidence, as the cool kids at CNN like to say. Then saying he was angered and concerned by the jury’s verdict, without saying why.
He could have expanded on his tantalizing November 24 article, in which he suggested that Joe Biden’s presidency was being jeopardized by inflation and gas prices, and that “he’s just as unpopular as Donald Trump”— but in which article he overlooked one possible explanation for inflation, rising gas prices, and unpopularity: Joe Biden himself.
He could have written about the massacre in Waukesha, Wisconsin, exploring its possible relationship to the recent Rittenhouse verdict, perhaps inquiring whether Joe Biden thinks Darrell Brooks was a black supremacist.
He could have written about the Democrat-controlled congress from any number of angles: you want in-fighting? They’ve got it in spades: just ask Joe Manchin. (Danielsen knows this, because he wound up the aforementioned article last week by quoting Manchin.)
But Danielsen didn’t write about any of those things.
Instead he chose to write about a little kerfuffle among the prima donnas at a popular cable news channel.
He’s in a room with not just one elephant, but a herd of them—and he’s chosen to write about the weather.
Featured image from jooinn.com.