OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Top-rated Fox News host Tucker Carlson went viral on social media this week by posting a single picture on Twitter in response to a 20,000-word hit piece series published by The New York Times.
Also, in an interview with Axios, Carlson said he hasn’t read the story “and of course won’t” read it.
“Why it matters: Despite Carlson’s claim he won’t read the opus, his team believes the scrutiny from The Times will only make his rabid fans more rabidly loyal,” the outlet reported.
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) May 1, 2022
“Details: The New York Times this weekend posted 20,000 words about “Mr. Carlson,” as the paper calls him, spread over four parts online and two days in the paper,” Axios continued.
The ‘paper of record’ claimed in its series that an analysis of 1,150 episodes of the highly-rated Fox News show, which airs weeknights at 8 p.m. ET, shows how Carlson, 52, “has grown increasingly sympathetic to the nativist currents coursing through U.S. politics, and how intertwined his rise has been with the transformations of his network and of American conservatism.”
The story notes: “Here is the ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ playbook: Go straight for the third rail, be it race, immigration or another hot-button issue; harvest the inevitable backlash; return the next evening to skewer critics for how they responded. Then, do it all again.”
The report also said that Carlson is a voracious consumer of minute-by-minute ratings — real-time viewership of his program — ostensibly based on three Fox News sources.
Carlson, for his part, swatted that away, telling Axios: “I’ve never read the ratings a single day in my life. I don’t even know how. Ask anyone at Fox.”
He added: “Most of the big positions I’ve taken in the past five years — against the neocons, the vax and the war [in Ukraine] — have been very unpopular with our audience at first.”
There is no question that Carlson is popular at Fox; not only does he have his weekday evening program on the network, he’s got two programs on the outlet’s streaming service Fox Nation — a long-form interview program called “Tucker Carlson Today” and an investigative show called “Tucker Carlson Originals.”
To that point, one report last week suggested that Carlson may even be considering a 2024 presidential run based on an event he is planning on attending that is frequented by presidential contenders.
He will headline the 2022 Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa this July, which is a conservative Chrisitan political organization with some of the biggest names in Republican politics attending the annual gathering.
Last year, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem attended the event.
The announcement that Carlson would address the summit quickly gained a lot of attention on Twitter from mainstream media reporters.
“Tucker Carlson heading to Iowa, home of the presidential caucuses, this summer. This particular group’s gathering has long been an event attended by Republicans with presidential ambitions,” wrote CBS News’ Robert Costa.
Tucker Carlson heading to Iowa, home of the presidential caucuses, this summer. This particular group’s gathering has long been an event attended by Republicans with presidential ambitions. https://t.co/Ak6H9NTeri
— Robert Costa (@costareports) April 26, 2022
“Tucker Carlson is appearing at the Family Leader Summit in Iowa, a typically influential political forum in Iowa GOP politics ahead of presidential cycles,” noted the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman.
Tucker Carlson is appearing at the Family Leader summit in Iowa, a typically influential political forum in Iowa GOP politics ahead of presidential cycles
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 26, 2022
Author Bakari Sellers commented, “I’ve told anyone who’d listen he’s a dark horse for the GOP nomination. You put bigotry in a brooks brothers suit, you have a chance.”
I’ve told anyone whod listen he’s a dark horse for the GOP nomination.
You put bigotry in a brooks brothers suit, you have a chance. https://t.co/ZdfidCJCJ5
— Bakari Sellers (@Bakari_Sellers) April 26, 2022
And Shane Goldmacher, a national politics reporter at the New York Times, quipped, “The old saying that no one winds up in Iowa by accident…”
The old saying that no one winds up in Iowa by accident… https://t.co/hXuapPrug7
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) April 26, 2022
Not everyone is convinced, however.
“Before everyone gets too excited, just take a breath: no way someone gives up a lucrative TV bid to run for president, especially considering that they would have their finances and personal life examined in way they haven’t been before. Guy’s never been elected to anything!” journalist David Freedlander responded.
Before everyone gets too excited, just take a breath: no way someone gives up a lucrative TV bid to run for president, especially considering that they would have their finances and personal life examined in way they haven't been before.
Guy's never been elected to anything! https://t.co/5BBEMmo2fD
— David Freedlander (@freedlander) April 26, 2022