David Roberts+ Your Authors @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Mar. 12, 2019 3 min read + Your Authors

1. There's such a strange element of kabuki to this latest chapter of Fox Follies.  https://www.vox.com/2019/3/11/18259719/fox-news-tucker-carlson-jeanine-pirro-statements 

2. For whatever reason, after a career of saying horrible things, Pirro crossed some invisible line of power, influence, & exposure and went "too far."

3. Tucker Carlson, caught joking about the rape of underage girls, is still powerful enough that he doesn't have to give a damn.

4. The underlying premise of all this is that society at large has made a strange bargain with right-wing media. The role of RW media personalities, apparently, is to push the asshole dial as far as they can, get as much hate & resentment in as possible, without going "too far."

5. What counts as too far is this constantly contested line, w/ RWers across web, radio, & tv constantly nudging it, pushing it, testing it. Occasionally broader culture gets in a harumph, gets organized, & forces it to retract or apologize for something.

6. That's the deal. They keep the white resentment, sexism, xenophobia, etc. pegged to about a 7 or 8. Occasionally they cross into a 9 or 10 & are forced to apologize. Occasionally a Bill O'Reilly is sacrificed. But not that many.

7. Of course, they believe in their bones that this is exactly what the left does - & that there is nothing *but* right & left, contesting teams. This is the basic tribalist perspective: there are only contesting sides; no one actually believes or heeds transpartisan principles.

8. That's why whataboutism is the right's primary, practically only remaining, moral argument (it is the sum of Carlson's defense & about 80% of his nightly show). They don't argue that any particular move is good or defensible any more, just that the left does it too.

9. As I've said before, whataboutism isn't even a moral argument at all, really, so much as a permission system. Everything is permitted because nobody's really playing by any rules. It's an all-purpose justification.

10. Anyway I didn't mean to go down this rabbit hole again. (See the link for much more.) I had another, simpler thought.  https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/3/22/14762030/donald-trump-tribal-epistemology 

11. Which is that, when you think about this weird deal society has with RW media, where they keep assholery at a 7 or 8, but avoid a 9 or 10, the most relevant thing, it seems to me, is not exactly where you draw the "too much" line ...

12. ... so much as, just ... what's the deal with the *audience* for this stuff? Why do they want get away with as much rage & resentment as possible? Why do so many people want to watch a-holes act out fear & contempt? Why do they want *permission* to be a-holes?

13. I mean, Trump came along & he was like a Universal Permission Slip. It turns out so, so many people were just waiting for permission to be a-holes. There's was barely any resistance! I don't get it.

14. I guess I just don't feel like I'm holding back a bunch of rage & cruelty out of fear of social sanction. I don't want permission to be more angry & cruel. I would like less anger & cruelty generally. I'd like everyone to chill out so I could take up gardening or something.

15. I find being angry all the time profoundly exhausting. Why would I want more of it? Why do so many people want more of it? I'm just a delicate snowflake, I guess, and the Trump years have me upset. (I hope y'all weren't expecting this thread to end somewhere deep.) </fin>

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