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OXFORD, Alabama—In his first in-person speech after departing Fox News, Tucker Carlson did not hold back when speaking about what he sees are issues undermining America—lack of truth in the media landscape and a “manufactured” national division.
“I think I’m probably the first unemployed person who was ever invited to speak,” he opened his speech after a 15-second standing ovation by a full house at the 1,215-seat Oxford Performing Arts Centre on Thursday.
“When I accepted this speech … I didn’t realize how much free time I would have,” he joked.
Fox announced on April 24 that the two “have agreed to part ways” without explanation, drawing widespread speculation about the circumstances of the departure and what’s in store next for the former anchor. The network’s ratings have dropped significantly since.
The former news host of Fox News’s top-rated “Tucker Carlson Tonight” show said that he agreed six months ago to attend Thursday’s private fundraiser event, which was organized by Rainbow Omega, a faith-based nonprofit that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
During his hour-long speech, Tucker didn’t directly address the situation with Fox News but spoke about America’s political and social issues that he believes can lead to the “end of democracy” and the “enslavement” of the American people.
According to Carlson, what he witnessed at Rainbow Omega’s facility—people’s lives being materially improved—stood in stark contrast to his experiences with American politics and the media industry.
“American politics is supposed to be designed to improve people’s lives, but what is the point of it actually?” he said. “As we’re worried about these big abstract problems in faraway places, or claiming we can control the weather or whatever we’re claiming, there are kids with developmental disabilities who have aging parents, and the parents are legit terrified about what happens when they pass.”
But he said the ideas promulgated in the public sphere aren’t only irrelevant to Americans’ everyday concerns and designed to divide.
“I’m starting to really believe that the divisions that we see in our society are pretty much manufactured,” Carlson said, adding that one example of this is the idea of racism.
“Obama’s first term was how we were going to get past race. I didn’t vote for the guy, but everybody I knew was excited, and so was I,” Carlson said. “We elect some guy I disagree with, but we get to the point where we stop picking at the scab and move forward as one country. Why wouldn’t I be for that? As a Christian, I was totally for that.”
But that changed in Obama’s second term, he said: “Oh no, we’re not post-racial. All we’re going to talk about is race and make each other hate each other on the basis of race.”
“I don’t think most Americans hate each other on the basis of their ethnic differences,” he added. “I think a lot of that is just a lie, actually, designed to distract people.”
A cause of this division, Carlson lamented, is what he has observed to be “propaganda” published by the “overwhelming majority” of American media.
“Why are they not only not addressing the issues that matter? But they’re kind of going out of their way to ignore them?” Carlson wondered. “They have no idea that the economy is sagging, really? How could you not know that? We have no idea that we’re actively fighting Russia in a war?”
“I just think that’s at some point, you have to call it what it is—which is lying,” he said. “And lying with a very specific purpose, which is to avert your gaze, to pull your attention away from the things that matter. That’s not news coverage. That’s just classic propaganda.”
End of Democracy
The democratic system cannot function with dishonesty dominating the public sphere, Carlson indicated.
“The first effect is to, kind of, end democracy,” he said. “The whole idea of democracy is based on the understanding that the people who vote will have some knowledge of what they’re voting on—what the real issues are–they’ll be informed citizens.”
But when the media industry is collectively excluding issues that matter, such as crime, immigration, and the economy, the population becomes uninformed, which undermines a fundamental part of democracy. The harm brought by the media industry is compounded by a lack of authenticity from the entire federal government, including politicians from both political parties, Carlson said.
“If they can’t even tell you the truth about a communicable disease that’s killing people, they’re actually lying to you about that,” he added. “You can’t believe anything. Well, that’s very bewildering. That’s actually a form of chaos, which is the one condition people can’t handle,” he said.
This chaos, he added, undermines Americans’ belief in the democratic process, sets the stage for further division, and leads to a sort of enslavement of the population, Carlson said.
“If you can control someone’s brain and get them to say, ‘I really need to wear a mask inside my car alone to protect myself—if you can get someone to that place where he gets in his Subaru and just instinctively puts on a mask with the windows up, then you’ve won,” Carlson said. “You’ve defeated them … in the enslavement of people, taking away their choice, and in so doing their dignity, really their humanity.
“That is the goal, obviously.”
The antidote to this, Carlson said in his speech, is to seek truth—echoing a statement he made in a video published on Twitter last week, days after his exit from Fox, that “truth will prevail.”
“Seek truth in your human relationships—always with humility—mindful that it’s pretty hard to get to the core truth of anything in this life,” he said. “And while we may never get to what is the deepest level of truth, we can move in that direction.”
He encouraged the audience to tell the truth and not partake in what he says are the lies propagated in society.
“We can begin by telling the truth ourselves,” Carlson said. “What we can control is what we do. And they can impose lies on us—it doesn’t mean we have to live them.”
“Because it robs you of the only thing that matters, which is your humanity, your God-given humanity, and it makes you something less than human.”
He then encouraged the audience to vote their conscience. He’s pro-life, he said, and votes Republican because of the party’s stance on this issue.
Finally, he proposed: “I would say just the obvious—try to help actual people.”
“In other words, whether it’s your charitable contributions, the checks that you write, or the services that you perform, the deeds that you do … knowing that there is a flesh and blood human being in need, whose life is being tangibly improved by what you do—that’s what charity actually is,” Carlson said.
“That ought to be the role of the federal government,” Carlson said on a side note.
His love for the state of Alabama aside, Carlson said, a primary reason that he came to speak was that he sincerely supports Rainbow Omega’s work, which he said is “helping people not in an abstract way, but in an actual way.”
Carlson recounted his experience earlier in the day when he toured a facility run by an organization in the region and met one of the participants of the nonprofit’s program.
“The thing that really—I won’t forget—that really lightened my heart was seeing so people who live there walking down the road … and there were a pair of twins. And this girl turned to me. Her face was so radiant. It made me emotional looking at her,” Carlson said. “I thought, you know, I don’t really understand a lot about God, but God’s on that person’s side—God thinks a lot more of her than he thinks of me.
“And I thought: ‘Wow, what a beautiful moment that was for me.’”
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