Sanitising guests through selective editing will come back to bite the network
Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, became the most recent celebrity to make the pilgrimage to Fox News when he participated last week in a two-part interview with Tucker Carlson. As is usual with these interviews, Ye was able to articulate a number of contrarian positions with which he was already well-associated, expressing disdain for the Clintons, Covid safetyism, and the extended family of ex-wife Kim Kardashian. He also discussed the “White Lives Matter” shirt he wore during Paris Fashion Week alongside Right-wing political commentator Candace Owens, as well as concern about singer Lizzo’s “clinically unhealthy” weight.
The interview was wide-ranging, but Carlson’s production team didn’t include everything. In footage obtained by VICE Motherboard, Ye can be heard making a number of remarks about Jewish people that echo some of his controversial recent Instagram and Twitter posts. These posts led to the locking of his accounts mere hours after Elon Musk, who appears to be going through with his purchase of Twitter, welcomed him back to the platform. Having already made the posts before talking to Carlson, Ye proceeded to repeat various conspiracies and anti-Semitic tropes, explaining how black people are the “real” Jews and extrapolating from Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s well-known racist and eugenicist beliefs that the organisation was created to kill black infants in the womb. He also mocked Jews for their dancing ability, adding hastily, “I probably want to edit that out” (it was). Perhaps the most notable edit, and one that speaks to how vaccination is becoming a dividing line in Republican politics, was the decision to cut West saying he had been vaccinated.
Ye is not the only guest receiving judicious edits from the Carlson team. The Raw Egg Nationalist, along with a number of related Right-wing fitness and aesthetics influencers, figured prominently in Carlson’s The End of Men streaming documentary, and the “REN” also spoke to Carlson during a call-in segment on his show. Both of these appearances highlighted the relatively salutary aspects of raw egg nationalism, noting how the REN and his kind have re-popularised various ideas about the consumption of raw meat, raw milk, and raw eggs. Other ideas from the movement include regenerative cattle farming, red-light therapy to increase testosterone through testicle tanning, and walking around shirtless or naked to increase intake of vitamin D from direct sunlight.
These are claims upon which those inclined to dislike all Fox News content hurried to heap scorn. But what is more interesting is what is being left out of the discussion. These Right-wing anons form a community that revolves in large part around conventionally racist, misogynistic and “extremely online” intellectuals such as the Bronze Age Pervert and Zero HP Lovecraft. The latter of these two has even recorded a podcast episode in which he argues through a voice-disguising device that the different races are different species. The material Carlson is presenting arose in part from their influential work on aesthetics and masculinity, but he also fails to present the full story, which prevents viewers from learning about the provenance of the ideas to which they are being exposed.
In the cases of Ye and the REN, it is clear that Fox News and Carlson are presenting only a sanitised and partial story of some of the people they are using to attract attention. They are trying to be edgy, but that edge isn’t particularly sharp. It is the unserious but lucrative work of marketing and, while it might drive ratings or streaming subscriptions, it is deceptive, because people may end up attracted or repelled by ideas about which they lack all necessary information. Carlson’s team wants viewers to perceive Ye and the REN as one-eyed jacks amidst the show’s “based” deck of jokers, but those of us who have seen the other sides of their faces know better.