This is Where the Truth Goes to Die

How Ben Smith got played by Tucker Carlson at the Semafor-Knight event this morning

Micah Sifry

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“This is why you are considered correctly a propagandist and not a journalist.” No, that wasn’t Ben Smith, the co-founder of Semafor, a new global news site, admonishing Tucker Carlson, the lead anchor for Fox News, during a “pre-launch” event held in Washington, DC this morning to explore the future of news. It was Carlson, who is a much more practiced cable pugilist than Smith, putting him down midway through their conversation. Sadly, and exactly as many of us expected, Carlson used the platform offered him by Semafor and its co-sponsor, the Knight Foundation, to do what he does every night: twist facts and arguments to make his brand of American white nationalism seem like common sense against the deplorable efforts of the liberal media and the Democratic party.

For just over 20 minutes Carlson got to parade a series of self-aggrandizing statements with barely any contradiction or successful interjection from Smith. To wit, he told the audience such chestnuts as “the fact that there’s only one TV channel in the entire country, a country of 350 million people that allows actual free speech,” “the center of the Democratic electoral strategy going forward” is to replace “legacy Americans” with more “obedient” foreigners; and my personal favorite, “I’m trying my very hardest to tell the truth.”

Carlson, like the man he admires so much, Donald Trump, is an expert at projection and displacement. “I’m not a racist,” he likes to claim, as he goes out of his way to charge the Democratic party with demonizing white people. Today with Smith, here’s how that came out. Smith asked if Carlson worried that America was getting too divided, adding politely, “I think and maybe this is maybe I’m wrong, but that your audience enjoys it when you kind of pour gasoline on those fires, not when you try to put them out and I wonder, like, the nature of cable news ratings. It’s so funny. I wonder if the nature of cable of the sort of ratings driven business of cable cable news in general of yours in particular, I mean, this seriously, you know, basically makes it impossible to do anything else.” In other words, maybe Tucker you’re not really a believer in the stuff you put out, but you need to do…

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