Bill O’Reilly was once the king of cable news. Now he’s out, and his replacement — Tucker Carlson — is better than O’Reilly ever was.
I didn’t watch Bill O’Reilly in his heyday in the early-to-mid 2000s. I started watching during the early Obama years but quickly grew tired of the show. It was mostly the same shtick: O’Reilly is standing up for “the folks” and knows what “the folks” want, even if he didn’t really know or care. His interviews with guests generally consisted of a question, followed by a brief answer from the guest, followed by an interruption by O’Reilly inserting his own commentary. Thus, his shows were never very enlightening.
O’Reilly built his success on the culture wars, but I never got the impression he really cared much about them. He thrived off the latest controversy but never really got at the real issues. For example, he seemed cagey about abortion — he was willing to take on notorious late-term abortionists but didn’t really seem to have strong beliefs about abortion in general. He infamously declared that opponents of same-sex marriage were merely Bible-thumpers. And for all his claims to stand for “the folks,” he didn’t seem to be all that in touch with regular America. And if the claims that forced him out are true, he definitely was not in touch.
Tucker Carlson, who now anchors the critical 8 p.m. Eastern time slot, has made his show smart and engaging. Viewers come away from it with a deeper understanding of either an issue or a particular movement. His complete contempt for D.C. swamp culture, despite having lived in Washington most of his life, shows that he hasn’t let the city ruin him.
His interviews are must-watch events — from sparring with liberals to Mark Steyn’s hilarious commentaries. And he makes an effort to really understand cultural issues, rather than just picking at the edges. For example, when covering the NFL controversy, he hasn’t just talked about disrespecting the flag, but argued the real underlying issue is that the far Left believes America has been a force for evil in the world. He makes a real effort to follow the logic of his guests — even if his mission is to tear holes in it.
Carlson is certainly not perfect; he is sometimes guilty of not following his own logic, and as a longtime resident of D.C., he is limited in his ability to relate to his audience. But “Tucker Carlson Tonight” is a far superior show to “The O’Reilly Factor,” and Fox News — as well as its loyal viewers — are better for it.
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