Today, @nytimes is publishing “American Nationalist,” our 3-part investigation into the fall and rise of Tucker Carlson and the transformation of American conservatism. Part 1 will appear in Sunday’s paper. A 🧵on our story and findings: nytimes.com/2022/04/30/us/…
Why devote thousands of words to a talk show host? Because Carlson, the highest-rated pundit in history, is also a unique figure on the modern American right — a latter-day Father Coughlin and a movement builder in the mold of Pat Buchanan.
The story of Tucker Carlson is also the story of how American conservatism evolved from Reagan to Trump — the triumph of the nativist current on the right, and the shrinking boundary between mainline politics and the cranks and conspiracy theorists of QAnon.
More successfully than almost anyone else, Carlson has taken a set of themes and conspiracy theories, formerly caged on the fringe of American politics, and brought them to a mainstream audience. His show may be the most racist program in the history of cable news.
This isn’t an opinion or a take. It’s a fact — supported by our content analysis of 1,150 episodes of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” by @karenyourish @dawncai624 @larrybuch and their colleagues @nytgraphics. That's Part 3 of our series. nytimes.com/interactive/20…
Night after night, Carlson warns his viewers that they inhabit a civilization under siege — by violent Black Lives Matter protesters in cities, by diseased migrants from south of the border, by refugees importing alien cultures, by falling birthrates & a hateful “ruling class.”
This narrative originates with various white nationalists, neo-Nazis, “alt-right” types and so-called “identitarians” on the right, who have said that Carlson is the best advocate around for their ideas. Thanks to Carlson, more GOP politicians echo those ideas, too.
But what does Carlson himself believe? Part 1 traces his growing skepticism of immigration and his alienation from the old conservative establishment — an evolution that began far earlier in his career than is widely understood, at the beginning of the 9/11 era.
Carlson is often cast as a child of privilege, but as any chronicler of wealth can tell you, rich families are not always happy ones. Our story looks at his roots in a Gilded Age ranching dynasty, his parents’ divorce & how his mother’s abandonment shaped Carlson’s outlook.
Today, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” is both a sincere expression of his views and a lucrative theater. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “We are what we pretend to be.” All the more true, Vonnegut might have added, if what you pretend to be makes you wildly rich.
But Carlson is a skilled cable edgelord. The closer he gets to the line, the more he lights up his audience. He knows that because he studies his ratings as closely as anyone. He’s failed twice before in cable, and he’s determined not to fail again.
“He is going to double down on the white nationalism because the minute-by-minutes show that the audience eats it up,” said a former Fox employee who worked frequently with Carlson.
Our story is based on interviews with dozens of current and former Fox employees, Carlson’s friends and former colleagues, and an array of public records.

But I had many more questions for Carlson.

He declined to be interviewed.
If you're not yet a Times subscriber, you can read Part 1 with this link. nytimes.com/2022/04/30/us/…

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More from @nickconfessore

May 1
Today, you can read Part 2 of our new @nytimes series “American Nationalist.” This installment takes you inside how “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was built, how Carlson shaped and reshaped the show -- and how he made war on critics & rivals at Fox. nytimes.com/2022/04/30/us/…
Carlson’s embrace of far-right themes is not random. Nor is Fox’s defense of him chiefly about “free speech.” From the beginning, our investigation shows, his provocations have been part of a painstaking, data-driven campaign to build and hold Fox’s audience.
Carlson’s innovation was “Trumpism without Trump.” Stories that would grab the Trump audience while keeping a certain distance from the undisciplined president.
They were sometimes weird — “Gypsies” pooping on the street? — but spoke to fears of a trampled-on American culture.
Read 20 tweets
Jan 1
How city officials handed control of Rikers to the corrections union, which handed it over to gangs. A stunning and enraging investigation by @Jan_Ransom for @NYTMetro nytimes.com/2021/12/31/nyr…
One in ten corrections officers on the city payroll do not actually staff prisons, @Jan_Ransom reports. Of the rest:
When prison officials tried to bring 19 officers from a Queens courthouse to fill in at Rikers, more than a dozen “suddenly” developed illnesses. Seven of them actually called 911 for ambulances, to avoid being deployed. nytimes.com/2021/12/31/nyr…
Read 4 tweets
Nov 8, 2021
At hundreds of traffic stops, police shot at people in moving vehicles and killed them. None were armed -- except according to the officers, who claim the car itself is the weapon.
@Kim_Barker @SteveEder @ddknyt @arya_sundaram report. nytimes.com/2021/11/06/us/…
"The country’s largest cities, from NYC to Los Angeles, have barred officers from shooting at moving vehicles. The Justice Department has warned against the practice for decades, pressuring PDs to forbid it. Police academies don’t even train recruits how to fire at a car."
"[In many instances, local police officers, state troopers and sheriff’s deputies put themselves at risk by jumping in front of moving cars, then aiming their guns at the drivers as if in a Hollywood movie, according to body-camera footage."
Read 4 tweets

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