The latest attack by Media Matters on Tucker Carlson happily gives me occasion to celebrate a February essay by Jack Cashill on “the death of irreverence.”
Cashill’s topic was Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who at that time looked like he might lose his job over a picture in his 1984 medical school yearbook that depicted someone in blackface enjoying a beer with someone in a KKK costume. While conservatives have plenty of reason to dislike Northam, his sense of humor should not be one of them.
Cashill puts the yearbook photo in context with what he calls “The Age of Irreverence” — which he sees starting in the early 1960s with films such as “Dr. Strangelove” and continuing through Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” until the 1970s when “Saturday Night Live” could be seen as the apotheosis of irreverence. Northam would have been attending college when “Animal House” was glamorizing sexist, brainless fun in the form of John Belushi, the patron saint of irreverence. (Imagine the penance Belushi would have to pay today to atone for his Samurai Delicatessen skit! He culturally appropriated a language, a robe, a hair-do and a sword for goodness sake!)
Living in the Age of Irreverence was much different than living in the Age of Political Correctness. As Cashill notes, “During the Age of Irreverence, young people like Northam used the occasion of Halloween to tweak, to shock, to step out of oneself for an evening and be mischievous.” The author describes several costumes of his own that pushed the limits — and notes how well they were received, even by liberals! Not surprising since at one time liberals prided themselves on being humorously irreverent (think Lenny Bruce or Mort Sahl) and mocked Republicans as buttoned-down, staid and boring.
Which brings us to Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host who got his start at CNN and MSNBC and used to wear a bow tie, for goodness’ sake, yet brands “Tucker Carlson Tonight” as “the show that is the sworn enemy of lying, pomposity, smugness, and groupthink.” He is clearly not someone who plays by the rules, which is another way of saying he is a bit, well, irreverent. I wouldn’t be surprised if “Animal House” was his favorite movie!
The left-wing thought police at Media Matters don’t like Carlson carving up their sacred cows of political correctness, socialism and gender madness, so they have made it a point to try to destroy his career. The latest effort involves listening to 10-year-old tapes of Carlson appearing on the radio show of “Bubba the Love Sponge” and saying the kinds of things you say when you are in a show like “Bubba the Love Sponge.” The whole idea of the shock jock genre is to push the envelope so far that people are (hey, imagine this!) shocked. It’s not my cup of tea, and so I don’t listen to the sophomoric blathering of shock jocks, but it never occurred to me to take them off the air. That kind of censorship only comes from the left these days.
CNN just ran an op-ed by left-wing lawyer Jill Filipovic in which she proclaims “Tucker Carlson’s words reveal who he really is.” She is, of course, right, but in a way she could never understand. They reveal that Carlson is a guy with a sense of humor — warped as it may well be. And humor is something which can’t be allowed to exist in a world of political correctness.
Carlson, unlike most Republican politicians, is fighting back against what he calls the outrage “mob.” You can read his monologue from Monday night’s show here. It is a beauty.
As an antidote to Media Matters, take a look at my new book “The Media Matrix: What If Everything You Know Is Fake?” — a collection of nearly 100 columns about Fake News and liberal media bias. This and “Why We Needed Trump” are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. Thanks!