Politics & Media
May 17, 2023, 05:57AM

Witness for the Prez-ocution

Dominant narratives become government agendas.

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Re-electing Donald Trump in 2024 may be the simplest way of rendering justice after the Durham probe’s revelation of the falsehood of the “Russia” narrative that government agencies, media, and Democratic Party leaders used against Trump throughout his presidency and refashioned to impeach him twice and narrowly rob him of re-election in 2020.

I say this even without being confident that he’d govern better than Ron DeSantis, a second-term Biden, or some other late entry to the 2024 race. I would certainly prefer a Libertarian Party president—or better yet, no president at all and the abolition of all government. Realistically, though, four more years of Trump might be the most succinct and direct way of sending the Deep State, the Democratic machine, the shameless media, and the stealthily but brazenly partisan police/intelligence agencies—agencies the Republicans themselves have so often empowered and showered with praise—the emphatic message that they were wrong and must pay some price for it.

It would be rough justice, but it’s a more easily achieved outcome than assessing appropriate penalties for every liar who shaped public discourse for the past seven years and making those penalties stick in a court of law.

Instead, in our world of preferential-presidential treatment, we’ll more likely see another round of subpoenas over Trump’s sloppy retention of some of his presidential documents, simultaneous with the studious ignoring of Biden’s own even sloppier documents retention—not to mention the web of bribes, degenerate children, and hidden grandchildren spun around Biden. In a complex world, people can always find enough distractions to keep them from noticing inconvenient facts. Pick the ones you like and weave the most politically useful narrative.

I doubt most of the people repeating the weak “Russia” claims, or for that matter half the fleeting narratives that bubble up and dominate news and politics for a few months, know they’re false. They’re just caught up in the herd instinct, the feeling we’re all shaping a grand narrative together and thus somehow doing the world a favor, as if enchanting it with a story that gives all the chaos meaning. Making sure the fairy tales have no damaging legal effects isn’t their individual responsibility. Somehow, it’s no one’s.

With so many people offering their own guesses as to “the real reason” Tucker Carlson was ousted from Fox News (the Dominion settlement or maybe sexism or maybe something else), the YouTube channel Liberal Hivemind suggested in this video that Carlson’s growing willingness to draw attention to news/politics’ power to mesmerize with false narratives—regardless of whether populist Carlson himself knows the truth—is what convinced plaintiff and defendant alike in that case they’d be better off without Carlson around. Even the most fiercely rivalrous of magicians can agree that someone prominently debunking the existence of magic is a long-term threat.

Dominion may have been angry enough at Carlson to want him gone specifically as one of their conditions for settling their case against Fox for exaggerating voting irregularities in the 2020 election (a Fox producer says as much in covert video taken by investigative reporter James O’Keefe), but it seems unlikely that Fox itself had come to see Carlson as a liability in purely economic terms. Even if one unfairly placed all the blame for Fox’s $700 million lawsuit loss on Carlson, the $1 billion stock hit Fox took after ousting the popular Carlson from his primetime slot suggests that getting rid of him must’ve been about more than calculating sheer profit and loss.

Dominion wanted him gone, but maybe Fox thought complying helped them tamp down someone who one of these days wasn’t going to go along with Fox’s latest pet narrative, likely a fairly establishment-Republican narrative.

And make no mistake: lest I sound like I’m jumping on the right-wing bandwagon here, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of narratives in the future that Fox—and all the other groups occupying the commanding heights of media and politics—would like to steer artfully toward some desired new election outcome, stock uptick, lockdown, war, or distraction culture crusade, and the last thing any of them, of whatever political stripe, need is someone they can’t fully predict.

Whether next year’s dominant narrative, at Fox or elsewhere, requires synchronized belief in Rudy Giuliani being innocent of sex and pardon-selling charges, prostitution being a horrible crime when Hunter Biden does it but admirable “sex work” when someone we like does it, or some elaborate combination of budget-cutting and expensive Ukraine war-boosting, to keep your ducks in a row as a message-sending establishment, you need to harness people who enjoy being a repetitive chorus and exile people prone to sound an off-note.

I’ve no idea what a second-term President Trump would do, nor do I know what pig-headed, econ-ignorant thing Tucker Carlson will say next when he gets a new steady gig. I know it’s sometimes healthy to keep the establishment controllers guessing.

—Todd Seavey is the author of Libertarianism for Beginners and is on Twitter at @ToddSeavey


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