COLORADO SPRINGS: For those who do not watch Fox News, they have missed Tucker Carlson, a muckraking journalist working today in the image of Isadore Feinstein (I.F.) Stone. Both reporters, although on opposite sides of the political spectrum are fearless in their pursuit of the truth.
I.F. Stone, original name Isidor Feinstein, (born Dec. 24, 1907, died June 18, 1989), was a spirited and unconventional American journalist whose newsletter, I.F. Stone’s Weekly captivated readers by the author’s unique blend of wit, erudition, humanitarianism, and pointed political commentary.
Stone was politically progressive.
“To write the truth as I see it; to defend the weak against the strong; to fight for justice; and to seek, as best I can to bring healing perspectives to bear on their terrible hates and fears of mankind, in the hope of someday bringing about one world, in which men[and women] will enjoy the differences of the human garden instead of killing each other over them.” Isidor Feinstein Stone.
Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson is an American conservative journalist, author, and political commentator who has hosted the nightly political talk show Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News since 2016. Born May 16, 1969 in San Francisco, he is married with four children, Hopie, Lillie, Dorothy, and Buckley.
Carlson’s education at Trinity College (1992), La Jolla Country Day School, and St. George’s School reveals a comfortable upbringing. Conservative talk show host and sometime competitor Rush Limbaugh likens Carlson to “Chatsworth,” ostensibly for his silver spoon bona fides.
“People tend to cherish and take care of the things they pay for and therefore own, countries included. The opposite is also true. When was the last time you changed the oil in a rental car?” – Tucker Carlson
Both Carlson and Stone share a character attribute that’s become increasingly rare by their journalist peers of late: Both men are bird-dogs. That is to say, once they get on a story, they take it all the way to its conclusion. They are fearless, thorough and distrustful, as all good reporters must be.
The biography, “All Governments Lie”: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone” by Myra McPherson, for instance shares Stone’s basic starting point. As a result of Stone’s and Carlson’s harsh unremitting reporting, both have their fair share of enemies. Lately, Carlson can tell he’s over the target and ruffling feathers by a campaign to influence his TV advertisers to boycott his show. (Advertisers Are Fleeing Tucker Carlson. Fox News Viewers Have Stayed.)
T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert tweeted that T-Mobile hasn’t bought any airtime on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” for “about a month, and we won’t be in the future, either.”
We haven’t been for about a month, and we won’t be in the future, either
— Mike Sievert (@MikeSievert) June 10, 2020
The proximate cause of such actions may be in part Carlson’s questioning of the authenticity of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
“This may be a lot of things, this moment we’re living through, but it is definitely not about black lives,” Carlson said. “Remember that when they come for you, and at this rate, they will.”
Media Matters, an advocacy group that opposes Fox, re-shared a list of Carlson’s sponsors.
In 2018, Carlson’s commentaries about immigration caused a pressure campaign by liberal activists and led many advertisers to retreat from the show.
“Living in Washington, you can’t take politics too seriously. I draw the line at honesty. I have no time for political hacks who say things they don’t believe because they get paid to.” – Tucker Carlson
“You’ve really got to wear a chastity belt in Washington to preserve your journalistic virginity. Once the secretary of state invites you to lunch and asks your opinion, you’re sunk.” – I.F. Stone on government manipulation of the media
One can imagine if Stone and Carlson were to have a discussion today
Despite each man’s pursuit of the truth, there would be little agreement between them. But one imagines each man would appreciate the iconoclasm they share. As Myra McPherson reports of Stone,
“In truth, ‘socialist’ Stone was too independent to embrace socialism or any ism. He once said, ‘I call myself a socialist, but I hate collective action!”
“In later years,” McPherson writes, “he recognized that he ‘was sort of a socialist by conviction in a general sense but an individualist by temperament. During the 1948 witch-hunts he quipped, ‘I know that if the Communists came to power, I’d soon find myself eating cold kasha in a concentration camp in Kansas gubernya.”
Carlson, at the polar opposite of Stone’s politics, but as Stone, his fellow critic, Carlson also has no allegiance to a party where the truth’s involved. He said,
“Trump, in part, was a reaction to the intellectual corruption of the Republican Party. That ought to be obvious to his critics, yet somehow it isn’t.”
With Stone no longer among us, it falls to Tucker Carlson and journalists like him, liberal and conservative alike, to tell the truth, no matter how inconvenient that truth might be.
Unlike I.F. Stone in his day however, Carlson’s job is even more difficult today.
Cancel culture, political speech, safe rooms to avoid conflict, and the complicated politicization of the bureaucracy and the media, truth is with us in diminishing returns.
Still and all, we need the likes of Tucker Carlson.
Free speech is not negotiable notwithstanding the many incursions into its sanctity. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That 1950’s schoolyard taunt reflected a stronger, more honest time.
Tucker Carlson hasn’t gotten the message yet to shut up. He persists in his honest and inciteful reporting. He works on the back of and in the shadow of I.F. Stone. One can imagine them both in a Starbucks coffee shop today, arguing, disagreeing, but daring to confront the truth as each reporter sees it.
Long live honesty and free speech.
Lead Image: I.F Stone (By Kzitelman – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3180796) Tucker Carlson – Fox News