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Announcing a "long-planned" vacation that weirdly started on a Tuesday, Fox News' Tucker Carlson recently faced another controversy that threatened his already-dwindling lineup of willing sponsors. After CNN discovered that Carlson's head writer had spent years pseudonymously posting wildly vulgar, KKK-like rants online, Carlson announced on a Monday night that he was off on a "trout fishing" trip. Sudden vacations have become a Fox News staple for hosts who come under fire and sponsors start to flee — it's a way to try to lower the temperature on the spreading controversy.
In the last year, Carlson has lost dozens of blue-chip advertisers: Disney, T-Mobile, Red Lobster, IHOP, Samsung, Jaguar Land Rover, Just For Men, Nautilus, Bowflex, SanDisk, and SodaStream. Hardly chastened, Carlson keeps courting controversy with hateful, reckless attacks that often put innocent lives in danger.
• In June, Carlson mocked the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement as being "definitely not about Black lives," telling viewers to "remember that when they come for you, and at this rate, they will."
• In July, he claimed Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-HI), an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient after losing her legs during combat operations, "hates the country" and dismissed her as a "coward."
• On Monday, Carlson's first day back from "vacation," he falsely accused The New York Times of planning to publish his home address, in an attempt to put his family in danger. Carlson then named the reporter and photographer allegedly working on the piece who were then immediately harassed online by Carlson supporters. (The New York Times does not print the address of news subjects and there's zero chance it ever "planned" on publishing Carlson's personal information.)
The host's unhinged behavior suggests Carlson knows that no matter how ugly the content of his program gets, he'll always have enough advertising support. It's almost as if he knows there's one specific, angel sponsor that will never flee, and that buys up enough of the inventory on Carlson's show that it effectively gives him a blank check to air racists, hateful programming.
He does. That advertiser is MyPillow, the Trump-loving bedtime company that buys as much of 40 percent of all the ad time purchased on Carlson's show. That's an astonishing amount for a single advertiser, and especially for a relatively small company like MyPillow. With close ties to the GOP, it certainly looks like the company and its founder, Mike Lindell who has suggested God delivered Trump to the White House, is doing the president a political favor by keeping a key right-wing voice on the air. It’s a voice that likely could not survive in the marketplace without being propped up by a sleep time company. Think of it as conservative welfare for the struggling Carlson.
A Trump sycophant whose company has received an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau, Lindell claims Democrats "want to keep everyone locked down so they can have mail-in voting and steal the election."
Known as the MyPillow Guy, Lindell is the reason Carlson's show is still on the air. Without MyPillow's generous support the primetime show wouldn't be able to sustain itself in terms of advertising revenue. When controversial Fox News hosts, such as Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly, previously found themselves in that position, the network cut ties with them because the network is not in the practice of airing shows it can't monetize, even shows with four million viewers, like Carlson's.
"Few major brands remain on Mr. Carlson’s program. Several major media buyers said they did not have clients with recent spots on the show," the Times reported. "Alongside spots from the computer security brand Norton, the skin care brand Proactiv and Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, recent ads have included a beet powder company that has used the gun rights personality Dana Loesch as a spokeswoman, a foot fungus treatment brand and several law firms."
There's a reason mainstream advertisers are fleeing as Carlson uses his show as a platform for white nationalist propaganda. And there's a reason prominent white nationalist Andrew Anglin, who oversee the hate site Daily Stormer, has described Carlson’s Fox News show as "basically ‘Daily Stormer: The Show'" and called Carlson “literally our greatest ally," according the BuzzFeed.
Last year, when old Carlson radio interviews with a Florida talk show hosts were uncovered, they revealed the host's unbridled bigotry. Deeply homophobic, xenophobic, racist, and misogynistic, Carlson sounded more like a white nationalist podcaster than the host of a popular cable television channel that he is today. Carlson belittled Iraq as “crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semiliterate primitive monkeys,” and mocked Barack Obama's heritage: "I don’t know how black he is, but I’m sure he’s a good basketball player."
That toxicity is not what most brands want to be associated with, which is why Carlson struggles to maintain reputable sponsors. For now, he has MyPillow to thank for keeping his show on the air.
"Obamagate" may have receded from the headlines, but it hasn't gone away. Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department is working hard on the concocted Trump conspiracy and will likely try to use the case during the fall election. Sydney Blumenthal recently did a deep dive into the quagmire, focusing on the role of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who's been tapped as a lead player in the dishonest legal pursuit.
I've been a fan of Blumenthal's writing for years and was fortunate enough to work with him at Salon, where he was my editor during the 2004 campaign.
Seeking to "dominate the battlespace" for Trump's retribution, Lindsey Graham and Ron Johnson have been assigned the task of serving subpoenas throughout the long hot summer, the equivalent of lobbing flash grenades and tear gas to clear the path for Barr's march to October. Johnson's statement to his committee, amounting to his order of battle, was a haphazard series of distortions, omissions and half-truths, which he claimed were "undisputed," his characteristic method, as he said, to challenge the "false narrative" against Trump.
FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Kane Brown with Swae Lee, Khalid, “Be Like That”
I know it’s only Thursday but I really want to this week to be over. So here’s a great new, sly weekend pop song for putting your cares at bay — at least for a little while.