Tucker Carlson hosted one of the most popular cable news shows in the history of television. His overwhelming success propelled Fox News’s ratings far past CNN’s and MSNBC’s. For reference, one week in particular, Carlson’s show pulled in 3.473 million viewers; Bill Maher pulled in 352,000. Tucker’s first post-Fox video announcement, at the time of this writing, boasts over 80 million views. His video announcing a new show hosted on Twitter garnered over 100 million views in less than 24 hours.

The point is, Tucker Carlson is wildly popular.

Yet the mainstream media completely fail to understand Tucker’s appeal. They are outright baffled by him.

CNN and other media execs can only dream of rising to his level of influence, which bothers them immensely, considering that they hate him. He is a liberal media anomaly; he frustrates their legacy algorithms. He more than just breaks their rules; he proves them wrong. Tucker Carlson represents everything today’s egghead “journalists” are too proud to believe.

So what’s the secret to his success?


Tucker Carlson is a humble host who neither patronizes nor lectures his hearers, and in an age of supercilious journalism, such a quality is attractively refreshing. Everyone else in media should take notes.

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Most mainstream media in America is polluted with off-putting, fist-pounding, Harvard-educated, holier-than-thou highbrows who reek of pretension and pat themselves on the back at hoity-toity correspondence dinners. And then they are baffled that the American people do not trust them but trust someone like Tucker instead. Don’t we simpleminded folk understand that CNN is a “real newsroom”? No one can take Fox News seriously, say the people who envy Fox News’s ratings.

The reason they are baffled is that they actually think that their degrees and intellects are impressive. They actually think they possess some superiority over the rest of us. If not for them, God forbid, we might fall for some conspiracy theory!

Unfortunately for them, their business model is not working. In fact, it is an outright failure. A brief account of CNN’s recent history, for example, proves the company is scrambling to boost its abysmal ratings. Chris Cuomo, Don Lemon, and Brian Stelter—formerly the network’s star lineup—were all fired in the span of a few years. (Ironically, Stelter wrote the CNN article announcing Cuomo had been fired. He should have seen the writing on the wall.) Even CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, was forced to resign. And let’s not forget Jeffrey Toobin!

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But at the heart of CNN’s woes is a stubborn refusal to negotiate their repugnant air of superiority. Rather than laugh at Tucker—as many late-night hosts did—the media should at least strive to understand that millions of everyday Americans resonate with him. They feel represented by him. And his audience will no doubt take the media’s gloating personally.

I am not advocating for the media to forsake intellectualism or embrace populism. The journalist’s first loyalty is to truth, not the people he purports to speak to. Populist media can lead to just as much “fake news” as elitist media. But the lessons to be had here are particularly pertinent to liberal newsrooms: high and mighty, “authoritative” lectures from the lips of those who attend parties at the Capitol of Panem do not sell.

Tucker Carlson is not your college professor. He’s not an intellectual. He’s not the kind of guy who writes sophisticated books with one eye on a thesaurus. Tucker Carlson is an everyday American citizen who feels just as disenfranchised by the system as you do. And for now, in an age of supercilious media, that’s exactly what “We the People” crave.

Jakob Fay is a staff writer for the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance. 

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