When Joe Biden was running for president, he pledged to the be kind of figure who could bring Democrats and Republicans together in a sharply divided county.
It turns out, Tucker Carlson is a lot better at it.
Because when it comes to the commentator more Americans are listening to, the Fox News firebrand is beating his leading liberal competition among the audience advertisers covet the most — even among those who consider themselves Democrats.
Tucker Carlson is drawing more Democratic viewers than MSNBC or CNN in the 25-54 age range. https://t.co/5YT6KsW5KI
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) February 1, 2022
According to the entertainment news website The Wrap, Nielsen ratings data broken down by political affiliation for October, the most recent month data is available, showed “Tucker Carlson Tonight” is a bigger hit with the 25- to 54-year-old demographic among self-identified Democrats than the dismally left-wing MSNBC and CNN.
“Carlson was top among Democrats in the demo across all of cable news that month and ranked third place among Dems in total viewership, too,” The Wrap’s Lindsey Ellefson reported. “Of the top four programs among Democrats in total viewers, Fox News had three: ‘The Five,’ ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ and ‘Hannity.’ The top spot in total viewers went to MSNBC’s ‘The Rachel Maddow Show.’”
And Carlson’s popularity wasn’t limited to October.
“For the entire year of 2021, ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ was the highest-rated program in cable news overall, bringing in an average of 3.214 million total viewers with 535,000 in the demo,” Ellefson wrote.
That news is no doubt baffling to mainstream media “comedians” like Stephen Colbert, or to any deluded American who still thinks The New York Times is the repository of all the news that’s fit to print, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s casually familiar with the Fox News host and his show.
Carlson is obviously a conservative, but his show is actually an example of the range of opinions that can be found on the conservative side of politics — diversity of thought, in other words, the only kind that really matters.
While his targets are usually on the left, Carlson often takes on the leaders of the Republican Party, too. The current crisis in Europe, with Russia threatening to invade Ukraine, is just the latest example where Carlson’s opinions are not in line with prominent Republicans who are demanding the U.S. take a stand against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Those opinions have gotten Carlson attacked by voices on the right, including commentator Dick Morris in a piece published by The Western Journal, as an advocate of appeasement.
But overall, Carlson is firmly on the right, so it’s easy to see why those on the right would watch. What’s less obvious is why he’s such a draw with liberals, until the competition is taken into account: Unlike the drearily predictable world of progressive “news” and opinion regurgitating the liberal position of the day, Carlson is interesting, the way an individual thinker can be.
Self-identifying Democrats who get tired of being spoon-fed news and opinions that comport with the Democratic establishment’s views – from the coronavirus pandemic to foreign policy — clearly appreciate that.
As journalist and commentator Zaid Jilani wrote in a Twitter post, “One thing about Carlson is he likes engaging with arguments on the left and having lefties on. It’s a more interesting show than some of the others out there for that reason. Not quite Firing Line because of the format but it has a closer ethos to it.”
One thing about Carlson is he likes engaging with arguments on the left and having lefties on. It’s a more interesting show than some of the others out there for that reason. Not quite Firing Line because of the format but it has a closer ethos to it.
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) February 1, 2022
Other social media commenters agreed:
Makes sense. All cnn or msnbc talk about the boring pandemic and how great Biden is doing
— Randy Oreens (@ItBegins2012) February 2, 2022
Not surprising at all since I keep hearing that sensible thinkers with narratives that are not in-line with the mainstream keep saying they don’t get air time on those left mainstream medias but Fox, etc, so-called right medias. Hence they get labeled as “alt-right” etc
— Terri Watanabe (@wabisabihaus) February 2, 2022
What an embarrassment when their own viewers are more interested in watching their mortal enemies.
— Barny Fraggles (@BFraggles) February 2, 2022
Christina Pushaw, who knows a thing or two about dealing with the leftists in the public eye as the spokeswoman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, summed up the situation perfectly:
“This is why they try to smear him all the time,” she wrote.
This is why they try to smear him all the time.
— Christina Pushaw (@ChristinaPushaw) February 2, 2022
That’s the thing. Carlson’s opinions aren’t universally popular – liberals surely can’t like his conservative take on major issues; conservatives aren’t going to agree with everything he says. But even for self-identified Democrats stranded in the wasteland of stale propaganda that makes up the vast majority of the mainstream media, he must seem like an oasis.
It’s not the kind of subject most liberals, trapped in the straightjacket of liberal orthodox thinking, are open to grasping, but it’s one Americans who respect the whole concept of free speech and freedom of opinions can understand immediately.
And for the modern Democratic Party, very much including President Joe Biden, freedom of thought is the most dangerous kind of freedom of all.
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