CounterSpin interview with Tim Karr on defunding Fox News racism
Janine Jackson interviewed Free Press's Tim Karr about defunding Fox News racism for the April 30, 2021, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.
Janine Jackson: What hasn't Tucker Carlson done lately? Earlier this month, the primetime Fox News host touted the white supremacist "great replacement theory "Democrats," he cried to viewers, are "trying to replace the current electorate" with "new people, more obedient voters from the Third World. Every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter; I have less political power because they are importing a brand new electorate."
More recently, Carlson encouraged his acolytes:
"Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart: Call the police immediately. Contact Child Protective Services. Keep calling until someone arrives. What you're looking at is child abuse, and you are morally obligated to attempt to prevent it."
OK, you, a non-Fox watcher, say: Tucker Carlson is a dangerous humanoid, and I wish he didn't have a platform for millions of people open to that particular strain of weaponized ignorance. But enough people or sponsors must want it on the air, or it wouldn't be there.
Well, here to help us see what's amiss with that idea, and how we could disrupt it, is Tim Karr. He's senior director of strategy and communications at Free Press, and he wrote the recent piece, "Tucker Carlson's Racism: Paid For by You." He joins us now by phone from New Jersey. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Tim Karr.
Tim Karr: Hi, Janine, how are you?
JJ: I'm all right, but boy, you know...
As media critics, we know it's important to expose the structure, the workings of media, because it's somewhat hidden, and because so much is predicated on it, you know. "If it didn't have an audience, it wouldn't be on your TV, because media is a market, after all": We know that that is a pervasive, but misleading, idea. When it comes to Tucker Carlson, it's not that he doesn't have fans, but what complicates the notion that he's on my TV because somehow I want him there?
TK: You, like me, might remember the good old days of over-the-air broadcast television, when we got our news and information for free. Unfortunately, at the time, in my childhood, it was only like four or five local television stations. But we've now transitioned to this cable era, where we can buy packages that provide us with hundreds of stations. And the economics of that is somewhat complicated, because I think people who don't watch the Tucker Carlson show don't realize that, regardless, they're still paying for Tucker Carlson's salary.
And what I mean to say by that is that when we purchase a cable package from our provider -- whether we have a satellite service; or a cable service, like Comcast; or a fiber service, like Fios by Verizon -- we pay a lump sum for a large package of channels. And that money gets distributed to those channels via what's called carriage fees.
And for Fox News and Fox Television, that is the bulk of their income; last year, they made about $1.6 billion from carriage fees. These are negotiated deals with their cable carriers that we all pay as part of our monthly bill, those of us who are still on cable and satellite pay -- TV services, which is the bulk of American viewers. And so it's a lot of money that we're paying, an average about $1.72 a month per person that goes to Fox News, even if we don't like that.
So when I say Tucker Carlson's racism is paid for by all of us, that's in fact true..And a lot of people don't really think about that; they don't think about the implications of carriage fees, and how -- unless we change that system -- we're all complicit in some way in supporting this sort of racism.
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