Let's get one thing straight

We don’t live in a Sith versus Jedi world where you can say “if you’re not with me, you’re my enemy.” Let’s stop acting like it.

Yesterday I wrote about the NSA, big media, and Tucker Carlson. I based my observation, that the story Carlson told about a “whistleblower” approaching him to tell him that his electronic communications were going to be leaked to the media, which will use it to smear him, was likely true. That’s all I claimed about Carlson.

Let’s get this straight. I don’t watch Tucker Carlson. I never have. I can’t stand his smug presentation. Like Reza Aslan tweeted about Nick Sandmann, I find Carlson’s face very punchable—his on-air personality. I don’t know him personally. I find it pretty cool that an old video shows him fly fishing in Central Park, and when approached by someone getting in his space, he was engaging and polite, not a jerk.

Contrast that with Chris Cuomo and his bike encounter. “Sometimes he’s scary stupid,” David, the bicyclist, told the New York Post. Cuomo spit venom at David on his radio show. “I don’t want some jackass, loser, fat-tire biker being able to pull over and get in my space and talk bulls–t to me,” he seethed. “I don’t want to hear it.” I wish the NSA would leak Cuomo’s emails, but I suspect they’d be exactly what I think.

What Carlson and Cuomo have in common is that they’re both television personalities. They do media for their job. They have to come up with some kind of content, every day, and put it out there on television. That’s not an easy job. I know the hours Erick Erickson puts in to do three hours (down from five!) of radio every day. Erick doesn’t need to produce video clips and the daily grind of television production, which is far more grueling than radio, where you can sometimes fill time and patter between the news and traffic. And in talk radio, you can take callers. Still, media is hard.

That means, on air, you’re going to see a different person than the one in private life. It’s the same in politics, what you see is not what you get. (Except perhaps for Sen. Mitt Romney, the late Sen. John McCain, and President George H.W. Bush, whom by all accounts are exactly the same in person as in politics.)

Let me get back to my point. I don’t watch Tucker Carlson or Chris Cuomo. I don’t watch Fox News or CNN very much. I barely watch any television news. If you had two tween boys in a house where the humans outnumber the televisions, you understand: Our living room television is permanently tuned to YouTube, when it’s not playing random movies from Disney+, Hulu or Apple TV. I have to wrest the remote from the kids if the president is making a speech, and then they flee like Romans from Hannibal’s hordes.

I get my news online from a variety of sources. The New York Times, Washington Post, AP, and the Morning Dispatch are all useful sources that I read every day. I read a lot of local newspapers, like the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Boston Globe, and financial rags like the Wall Street Journal and Seeking Alpha. I even read AdWeek. My “news magazine subscription” budget is higher than my Internet bill (my wife is not happy about it). I also subscribe to some Substack newsletters, such as Matt Taibbi and Ben Sixsmith. I rarely listen to podcasts—I don’t have time.

If you wanted to call me a Carlson fanboy or a Fox News addict, you’d be very wrong. Fox News is very, very far down my list of sources for news. I honestly don’t use them for story sources unless there’s a very specific link or video clip I need.

I don’t care if Tucker Carlson is spinning tales about being the target of an NSA leak and what nefarious purposes are behind it. I think the environment fosters these kinds of leaks, because the information is there, available, and not well-protected enough. It’s probably easier for certain government hacks in the intelligence community to get a hold of communications intercepts involving a media figure than it is for an IRS hack to get a hold of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s tax returns. I can’t say that for certain, but I believe it’s true.

Another point I want to clear up is that I am not a fan of Donald Trump. I wasn’t a fan in 2016. If you’ve read me for any length of time, at the Resurgent (sadly, the site is gone, and my only source of the writing is my personal backup on my home computer), I wrote thousands of words explaining how Trump would destroy the GOP, how his supporters are the modern Know Nothings, how his religion is selfishness, about his affinity for dictators and Russia, his business failures, lack of ethics, shockingly casual belief that nuclear war is inevitable, his dishonesty, cruelty, idiocy, craven licentiousness, and his incomprehensible monkey-poo flinging dumbass marathon rally speeches.

However, I don’t think Donald Trump, as president, or now, is an existential threat to the Republic, anymore than electing a scarlett-assed baboon would be. However, “Hitler” been the talking point for his enemies and for Democrats since he descended the golden escalator in June 2015, and because it’s over the top, it has moved more people to back Trump than if it was never claimed. Four years of Donald Tump in the White House did not destroy America. We were divided before and are more divided now, but it takes two to tango at division—Trump’s opponents did plenty to divide us.

Does that make me a Trump defender? Not in my eyes. He’s exactly what I wrote above: an unqualified mess and unfit for office. But I voted for him in 2020 (not in 2016) because I knew that what is happening now would happen unless Trump lost in a giant landslide. I think we’re in more danger with Trump on the outside, doing his manipulation, grift, and king maker game, than we would be with him on the inside, at the White House, surrounded by enemies and constrained by law and practical considerations. You may disagree, but January 6th by itself is not as bad as the Civil War, so don’t claim that.

The fact that the NSA has in the past (remember Scooter Libby?), through the Obama years, and even now, possessed too much information on U.S. citizens, and therefore too much power and temptation for political officials to open Pandora’s box for a peek every now and then. Further, the same people who grew clubby and warm with journalists who wanted to take down Trump are still in those friendships, and see people like Tucker Carlson as the next target, not because he’s going to run for office (he’s not) but because the media needs a boogeyman to fill airtime.

Is that cynical? Hell yes.

But look at the Democrats running on “Jim Crow” because Republicans in Georgia and Texas want to add voter ID to obtain absentee ballots. Look at Republicans playing gerrymander games to hold on to seats, while toxic jackasses like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Madison Cawthorne hurl conspiracies and dangerous lies to willing low-information voters who keep them in office.

Look at the anti-Semitic wing of both parties, and both the white and Black racists fighting to see who can achieve segregation first after years of ending it. Look at progressives destroying women’s sports in the name of transgender equality. I think I have plenty of reason to be cynical.

The NSA leaking the electronic communication intercepts of Tucker Carlson is just another cynical game in the inside baseball world of politics, media, and money. I guess you could say it’s a racket. That doesn’t mean I believe in Tucker Carlson, or in Donald Trump.

We don’t live in a Sith versus Jedi world where you can say “if you’re not with me, you’re my enemy.” Let’s stop acting like it.

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