What is a "right-wing extremist" these days?
Picture it in your mind. I bet you're conjuring an image of a militia somewhere in the backwoods of Idaho, led by some loony who keeps rambling about the end times and wears camouflage 24 hours a day, including to bed.
Or perhaps you're thinking one of those wayward youths with their 4chan and their Discord, looking to shock somebody by posting "dank memes" featuring Pepe the Frog.
Not according to CNN, though. To the liberal cable network, the face of "right-wing extremism" is, well, one of its former employees.
To be fair, Tucker Carlson is better known for his time on Fox News, but he has graced all three major cable news networks with his presence; he co-hosted "Crossfire" at CNN between 2000 and 2005, a period better known to Tucker historians as his "bowtie phase."
Despite different neckwear these days, he has said materially similar things during his gigs at all three networks, although he's had a more populist bent as of late than he did during the early 2000s.
Carlson is probably not going back to CNN after being dismissed by Fox News late last month. However, he has to do something while he waits out, or negotiates an end to, his contract at Fox, which expires in January 2025.
Rather than spend the time golfing or fly-fishing, he's going to be sharing his opinions gratis on Twitter, as he announced in a Tuesday video:
We’re back. pic.twitter.com/sG5t9gr60O
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) May 9, 2023
So far, so Tucker -- right? You don't see him hopping around with joy, finally convinced that free of Fox's shackles, he can tell viewers about how the Proud Boys are a nice group of young men looking to save America. Such fringe beliefs were not a part of his Fox show, despite what CNN and other outlets might have you believe.
Instead, Carlson said this: “Speech is the fundamental prerequisite for democracy. That’s why it's enshrined in the first of our constitutional amendments.
“Amazingly, as of tonight, there are not that many platforms left that allow free speech. The last big one remaining … is Twitter, where we are now.”
“The best you can hope for in the news business at this point is the freedom to tell the fullest truth that you can. But there are always limits,” Carlson said. “And you know that if you bump up against those limits often enough, you will be fired for it. That’s not a guess, that’s guaranteed.”
Uh-oh! Tucker wants him some free speech. You know what that means: He's an "extremist."
Right-wing extremist Tucker Carlson will relaunch his program on Twitter, a platform he praised as the only remaining large free-speech platform in the world after Fox News fired him late last month. https://t.co/QwlHtYvlDB
— CNN (@CNN) May 9, 2023
Yes, that's right: "Right-wing extremist Tucker Carlson will relaunch his program on Twitter, a platform he praised as the only remaining large free-speech platform in the world after Fox News fired him late last month."
I'm assuming whoever writes the copy for CNN's Twitter feed thinks that "far-right" is anyone more conservative than Mitt Romney and "right-wing extremist" is anyone to the right of Mitch McConnell. Perhaps the exact definition is in the network's style guide. Feel free to leak it to me via e-mail, disgruntled CNN employees.
The article by Oliver Darcy isn't much better, but at least it hides the talk about extremism until the middle of the piece. Then again, Darcy doesn't back up his work, simply stating that Carlson's "monster viewership numbers were earned through the trafficking of anti-immigrant rhetoric, false conspiracy theories, and the promotion of white nationalist talking points" and apparently hoping CNN readers will fill in the blanks without any examples.
And then there's the requisite Elon Musk bashing:
"For Twitter, the addition of Carlson’s show is unsurprising," Darcy wrote. "Musk has helped to elevate the visibility of far-right figures on the platform both by engaging with their tweets from his personal account and by allowing them to pay for Twitter Blue accounts, which provides them 'verified' blue checks and comes with greater prominence in search.
"Musk has urged his millions of followers to vote Republican and also appeared on Carlson’s show on Fox shortly before he was let go.
"Musk has restored the accounts of many users who had previously been banned for violating the platform’s rules, including right-wing figures like Trump and a number of white supremacists and neo-Nazis."
Oh, well, there you have it. Carlson and Musk is a far-right extremist conflagration! Evidence? Pfft. This is CNN.
You may perhaps not be surprised that this didn't go over well on Twitter, although that's probably Elon Musk's fault:
You're taking this well.
— U.S. Ministry of Truth (@USMiniTru) May 10, 2023
CNN: “Right-wing extremist” = anyone who doesn’t automatically believe whatever the Biden Admin tells us
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) May 9, 2023
What does that even mean?
— Sen. Eric Brakey 🌲 (@SenatorBrakey) May 9, 2023
CNN wants to be seen as the “down the middle” network, but described tucker Carlson as a “right-wing extremists”. Clowns.
— T.J. Moe (@TJMoe28) May 9, 2023
One conservative user, Viva Frei, also noted the ugly facts: Carlson's video got more eyes than CNN usually does, given the network's failing ratings:
Tucker had more viewership on his last two videos that you’ve had all month. 😂
— Viva Frei (@thevivafrei) May 9, 2023
However, the best response may have been from Gad Saad -- a prominent Canadian marketing professor and YouTuber who is friends with Carlson and has (gasp!) appeared on Joe Rogan's podcast.
He linked a satirical video in which he described his "fear" of Carlson and Musk teaming up.
"As you all know, I was very, very afraid when Elon Musk took over Twitter, because he was going to support the very dangerous and white supremacist idea of freedom of speech, and no political bias, no privileging of one side of the political aisle," Saad said, mockingly.
"Now I find out that the ultimate white supremacist and real anti-Semite, Tucker Carlson, is going to be relaunching his show on Twitter.
"Imagine the multiplier effect when Elon Musk, defender of freedom of speech, and Tucker Carkson, irreverent free-thinker, get together where they can't be controlled, where Tucker's voice cannot be suppressed. This is unbearable."
— Gad Saad (@GadSaad) May 9, 2023
While Saad might be sardonically ensconced under his desk, you almost get the feeling Darcy and CNN copywriters are literally in a duck-and-cover position over this.
Now all three of them don't have jobs at Twitter -- and people like Tucker Carlson are able to post freely there.
And, as it turns out, there are a whole lot of extremists out there: Almost 25 million of them have watched Carlson's video as of Thursday morning.
It's a good thing that CNN, which was averaging under 400,00 viewers in prime time at one point in March, is still around to tell us who the extremists really are, even when they include one of its former employees.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.