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    Culture Friday: Fundamental issues politics can’t explain

    NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s the 28th day of April 2023.

    Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

    MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. It’s Culture Friday.

    Joining us now is Andrew Walker. He’s a professor of Christian ethics and apologetics at Southern Seminary and managing editor of WORLD Opinions.

    Good morning Andrew.

    ANDREW WALKER: Hey, good morning, Nick. Good morning, Myrna.

    BROWN: Andrew, a week ago today, Fox News and its highly-rated commentator Tucker Carlson parted ways. Regarded by many as the most-watched personality on cable news, Carlson’s departure rocked both media and political worlds.

    Now, for me, having spent three decades in commercial broadcasting, I’m scratching my head here, because commentators, anchors, journalists are always coming and going. That’s par for the course, so to speak.

    I’m wondering what is it about the demise of this particular relationship that seems to go beyond media and politics?

    WALKER: Sure. So that’s a great question. And you know, I’ll just confess, even in my own lifetime, I’ve never seen a media figure on cable news, generate such controversy and generate such attention as I have Tucker Carlson. I think that the obvious answer here is that he generates a massive viewership. And I think he generates a massive viewership, because oftentimes, he’ll say things that a lot of Americans are thinking, but that they don’t feel comfortable saying out loud, and I should say here, I tend to like Tucker Carlson, although there are some moments where Tucker Carlson would would do some things and say some things make me a little uncomfortable. But I got the sense that Tucker Carlson as I was talking to people around the nation, even when his show was on, that there tended to be some resonance that people had with Tucker Carlson, that there was this kind of anti-establishment mentality, that Tucker Carlson is the guy who’s speaking up for the everyday American. And again, how he would do so I couldn’t always adopt as a Christian because he got a little bit too pugilistic and entertained some characters that I wouldn’t always adopt myself, or or would welcome on myself if I were having a cable news show. But I mean, this is an absolutely huge moment, I think we’ll all remember where we were when Tucker Carlson was dismissed from Fox News. And, honestly, to see the outpouring of hot takes and perspectives, pour in on social media that whole day, and then to see that his departure was the top thing that night on the nightly news on NBC. I think that speaks to the fact that you have a talking head, who had risen to a degree of cultural symbolism, because of the audience that he generates, the message that he generates, and the fact that we know he had the ear of President Trump when President Trump was in office. So it’s gonna be a very fascinating few weeks as we figure out what actually unfolded that led to his departure. But I can tell you, I think it’s going to be pretty tumultuous. And people who are dismissing Tucker Carlson are saying that this is going to hurt his platform. Personally, I don’t think it is. I think that perhaps they may have freed up Tucker Carlson to be even more Tucker Carlson. And I don’t think we’ve heard the last of him.

    EICHER: No, I agree with you, Andrew. And it’s interesting that you should say the Carlson firing was one of those. Where were you when you heard moments. I remember actually where I was, I was watching a video of him. A friend called my attention to it. This was Tucker on Friday night, after his final show, unbeknownst to him at the time, that it was his final show. He was speaking at the Heritage Foundation where he once worked as a fact checker for its policy magazine. And what he said was the days of the May the best policy when in this country, or in the past, he thinks there is no policy he said, that can explain what we’re watching in America right now. He cited gender ideology specifically and the utter enthusiasm for abortion. And that is not a policy debate. He said no policy could explain it. Let me play just a few seconds here.

    TUCKER CARLSON: When people or crowds of people or the largest crowd of people of all, which is the federal government decide that the goal is to destroy things, destruction for its own sake, hey, let’s tear it down. What you’re watching is not a political movement. It’s evil.

    These things he went on to say as he concluded are “manifestations of some larger force acting upon us.” And what we should do is, one, say that, and two, pray about it. One more bite.

    CARLSON: And I’m saying that to you, not as some kind of evangelist, I’m literally saying that to you as an Episcopalian. I’m coming to you from the most humble and lowly theological position you can I’m literally an Episcopalian. Okay. And even I have concluded, it might be worth taking just 10 minutes out of your busy schedule to say a prayer for the future, and I hope you will.

    There you go. And if you believe the story that came out this week, that idea of spiritual warfare, and I’m not saying he’s a Christian, I don’t know. But that the big boss, Mr. Murdoch, is said to be extremely uncomfortable with that and decided that was that, Tucker had to go. Do you buy that?

    WALKER: I still think that there’s a lot of facts to learn about what led to the to the dismissal. I read that Vanity Fair article that I think you’re alluding to that said that his kind of overt increased religiosity, particularly on that Friday night address at the Heritage Foundation really kind of was the thing that put him over the top or over the ledge with Fox executives. But to the speech itself. It’s a speech that went pretty viral over the weekend, because he was doing something that I think, again, is speaking up for a lot of people in America, particularly Christians. We’re understanding that the old days of debating Keynesian economics versus Austrian economics are really over. We’re debating far more fundamental moral issues, that politics on their own, can’t really explain. One of my, the deepest influences and kind of my political and even theological worldview, in some sense is Russell Kirk. And Russell Kirk, once said that all political problems at root are a spiritual and religious and moral crisis. And I think that Tucker Carlson captured that energy and he and he communicated it in a way that obviously, if you are watching Tucker Carlson, you can’t help but like his down to earthness in his approach, and he really can resonate with audiences in being disarming. And so I, you know, again, I think that people can have a wide array of opinions on Tucker Carlson. But what we saw in that clip, I shared it on social media myself, because, you know, we find ourselves in this place in American culture right now, where we seem to be finding ever more creative ways to harm ourselves and to uninvent ourselves. And to kind of see how much lower we can go to scrape at the bottom of the barrel as far as kind of the moral decadence and debauchery of our society. And so sometimes, you just want those top tier cultural figures to say, You know what, I’ve had enough we need to call a spade a spade, and we saw that, in that address of his at the Heritage Foundation.

    EICHER: All that said, I don’t think we can leave today without addressing the irony of Tucker Carlson talking about a crisis of truth when his employer Fox News chose to fork over nearly 800-million dollars to settle a defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems concerning the 20-20 election. This was the biggest publicly known payout ever made by an American media company evidently to avoid even more embarrassment in trial testimony. It was ugly enough to go by the filings with the court. Imagine how much worse it might’ve been that paying that close to a billion dollars was preferable to proceeding. So it’s a little ironic to be talking about truth here.

    WALKER: Yes, certainly. And that’s, that’s the great tension with someone like Tucker Carlson. You can really admire some of his convictions, as I as I do, but then also recognize that there is sometimes an entertainment aspect to how he conducts himself that as a Christian who’s interested in truth, and reason and kind of making sure we understand the facts on the ground in order to make informed decisions, that he wasn’t always super helpful and clear on that. And you’re right, and particularly with this Dominion lawsuit. He was at the center of this, and between Uh, you know, calling executives foul names which, you know, general wisdom to never insult your bosses. And then also the fact that, you know, he was privately not believing in the idea that the election was so called stolen, but then would bring guests on to the program where he wouldn’t necessarily agree that the election was stolen, but he would stoke the idea that this is a very legitimate thing to, to consider. And so that just shows, we need to be discerning that who we are in private is who we are in public. And fundamentally, Christians should be lovers of truth that falsehood should be no place near us. And so I think again, there are lessons in this particular situation and lessons to learn from Tucker Carlson. That no one’s perfect. A lot of people can speak truth. But we need to speak truth even when it isn’t convenient for our audience and for our bottom line. And that’s the call of what it means to be a Christian.

    EICHER: Well, Andrew, we’ve come to the end of our time. I do want to note that WORLD Opinions has published something different from its regular fare: a special point-counterpoint for pro-life Americans on the question of pursuing protections for the unborn at the nationwide level versus the more federalist approach of pursuing protections state-by-state. It is a debate among pro-lifers right now and so WORLD Opinions has a helpful point-counterpoint with an introductory column by Albert Mohler. And, Andrew, that’s all published and up on the site right now?

    WALKER: It is, yes sir.

    EICHER: Great.

    BROWN: Andrew Walker is a professor of Christian ethics and apologetics at Southern Seminary. He is managing editor of WORLD Opinions.

    WALKER: Thanks Nick and Myrna.

    WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.



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