How Tucker Carlson Became the Voice of White GrievanceBreaking News
tags: conservatism, media, culture war, Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson huddled in a low-ceilinged dungeon that had served as a holding pen for Africans bound for enslavement in the United States. It was a July day in 2003 in Ghana, and Carlson stood alongside some of America’s most prominent civil rights leaders.
The conservative commentator, who at the time co-hosted the CNN show “Crossfire,” walked through the memorial, where a guide told how the shackled Africans who did not perish during the voyage were sold as human chattel in America.
The civil rights leaders prayed, cried and sang “We Shall Overcome.” They peered toward the sea from the Door of No Return. But Carlson seemed strangely detached, according to two of the civil rights leaders who were present.
“When we got to the castle and the dungeon, it had an emotional impact on all of us, as Africans in America,” said the Rev. Albert Sampson, a former associate of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Then there was what he called “the tragedy of Carlson.”
“He did not cry,” Sampson told The Washington Post in his first interview about the encounter. “He did not have any intellectual response. He didn’t give any verbal response. It was a total detachment from the reality of the event.”
When Carlson wrote an account of the trip several months later, he sounded derisive, describing how he thought a teary-eyed Sampson “was going to bite me” but instead put his arms on Carlson and said with a smile, “I love you, man.”
“Sampson was trying to make me feel guilty,” Carlson wrote in an account for Esquire. “It wasn’t obvious to me at the time. The idea that I’d be responsible for the sins (or, for that matter, share in the glory of the accomplishments) of dead people who happened to share my skin tone has always confused me. Racial solidarity wasn’t a working concept in my southern-California hometown.”
But Carlson’s assessment of his trip to Ghana nearly two decades ago offered an early sign of sentiments that he had been expressing for years — and that would ultimately help transform him into the preeminent voice of angry White America. It is that role that Carlson, 52, now plays every weeknight from his prime-time perch on Fox News.
This account of Carlson’s years-long focus on racial grievance, and his rise to the top of the conservative media ecosystem, is based on a review of his books, broadcasts and writings over nearly three decades, as well as interviews with current and former associates, subjects of his on-air attacks and others who have observed his career.
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