If you’re on social media, you’ve probably heard about Tucker Carlson’s clash with Dutch historian Rutger Bregman. If not, read the Washington Post‘s account of it.  Carlson pre-recorded the interview with Bregman, who was live from Amsterdam. Carlson starts the interview explaining to viewers that he invited Bregman on the show because he liked what Bregman had to say at the Davos conference, calling out international billionaire elites for tax avoidance. But the Fox host chose not to use the exchange on his program after the interview went off the skids. From the Post’s account:

The segment appeared to begin as a civil discussion about taxes that took a turn when Bregman called out Fox News, claiming that the people on the channel, along with those at Davos, had been “bought by the billionaire class.”

“Almost all the pundits on this channel for years have been against higher taxes, right?” Bregman said.

Carlson could be heard stammering before responding, “It would be interesting to know how many hours of Fox you’ve watched.”

The host then directed the conversation back to tax avoidance, but Bregman wasn’t finished with his critique of Fox News. He accused Carlson of being a “millionaire funded by billionaires” and “part of the problem,” arguing that all the anchors on Fox News are millionaires because they don’t broach certain topics.

“Fox doesn’t even play where you are,” Carlson retorted, which led to Bregman asking the host if he had “heard of the Internet.”

“I can watch things, whatever I want, you know” Bregman said, chuckling.

The verbal sparring continued as Carlson insisted that he does talk about issues that may be unpopular among the wealthy, but Bregman remained unswayed.

“You jumped the bandwagon.” he said. “You’re all like, ‘Oh, I’m against the globalist elite,’ blah, blah, blah. It’s not very convincing to be honest.”

With that comment, Carlson unleashed a torrent of profanity and insults.

“I want to say to you, why don’t you go f— yourself, you tiny brain,” the host said. “I hope this gets picked up because you’re a moron. I tried to give you a hearing, but you were too f—ing annoying.”

You can watch the cell phone video of the exchange, taken in the control room of the Amsterdam studio, in this tweet. Warning: it is NSFW, because of profanity:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Having seen the thing, I side entirely with Carlson. He did not cover himself with glory with the language that he used — for which he apologized on air last night — but this historian was a total jerk, and Carlson was accurate in his vulgar description of the guy. He was invited on a nationally broadcast program to discuss his views on billionaire tax evasion with a sympathetic host, but used the opportunity to bash Fox News, the Murdoch family, and the Koch brothers.

It’s as if I had been invited on NPR to talk about my book, but used the opportunity to bring up my beefs with NPR’s liberal bias, or some such thing. And I do have those beefs! But it would be insulting and wrong to hijack that interview to air my personal grievances against the people who were generous enough to invite me on to share my ideas. And it would be stupid, too, if I cared about those ideas, to botch by my obnoxious behavior any chance of having those ideas broadcast to a wide audience — especially to an audience of people not inclined to agree with me, and who may never otherwise have their own convictions challenged.

If Bregman thinks Fox and Tucker Carlson are tools of the parasitic elites, then he shouldn’t have gone on the program. What he did was like going to someone’s party, and taking a dump on the coffee table.

In point of fact, Tucker Carlson Tonight is just the only major forum in conservative broadcast media on which an obscure historian could be invited to talk to a prime time American audience about how the superrich are gaming the system. But it was more important for the prima donna Rutger Bregman to own the cons, and to create a video that would make him a hero to the woke on social media, than to get his important message out to the masses — especially conservatives, who especially need to hear it.

UPDATE: In fact, I bet Tucker Carlson is more free to say what he thinks that Rutger Bregman would be in most academic settings. For example, Carlson can go on Fox News and denounce billionaires — and  he does. If Bregman stood onstage at most universities and denounced Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, or the trans rights movement, he would become an instant pariah.

UPDATE.2: A Dutch reader comments:

Carlson lost it, but Bregman conceded he intentionally baited Carlson.
Use Google translate for
https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2019/02/22/bij-rijke-matthijs-is-bregman-poeslief-a3655025
Actually this approach from Bregman is not productive. Bregman addresses taxation just like Piketty did a few years ago. That taxation issue needs serious discussion in view of wealth inequality. Bregman could have used this platform to address this seriously. However he consciously choose to abuse this opportunity. Sadly lost opportunity indeed.

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