Tucker the Sleaze Troll

Dear President Biden,

In my previous life as a daily (as in every single day) letter writer to DLT, I would sometimes take breaks from the mayhem and tell him about the hummingbird I saw or the crocuses that were starting to bloom, but mostly I railed at him. It was cathartic and it gave me something to do with all the pent up fury and fear I felt most every day, all day, during his invasion. Some of the time I felt the need to do some research to figure out whether what he was threatening or doing was actually harmful, but honestly, those times were rare – his menace was so clear that there was rarely the need to do a careful analysis of situations to figure out how to think or feel about what he was perpetrating.

It’s different with you. With you I am inclined to extend the benefit of the doubt and because I want to trust that you really do have our best interests at heart, I actually feel more off balance and confused when you do, say, or are planning things that don’t sit right. Perhaps you’ve noticed, but I basically haven’t taken you on with regard to much of anything. I think part of it is because of what I just said – I want, and even need, to believe in you and believing in someone has generally meant not questioning what they’re doing (which I clearly need to examine as it’s not exactly a healthy or mature stance) – but I think there’s also an element of fatigue and simply not wanting to invest the time/effort in sleuthing out the implications of this or that thing you’ve done, said, or are planning that isn’t sitting right.

Having made this confession both to you and to myself, I see that I need to give it more thought and figure out how I want to proceed since there’s little point in just shooting the breeze in these letters.

I’ll let you know what I figure out when I figure it out.

In the meantime, I’ll punt a bit and address the exceedingly low hanging fruit presented in the WP article this morning about how Tucker Carlson vilifies fairly obscure journalists who then receive tons of scary threats for weeks on end. It’s not only that TC does this, it’s also that he appears to target women disproportionately. Of the nine journalists he is described as having targeted in recent months, seven of them are women (six named and one who chose to go unnamed).

Even though it’s pretty clear that women do not make up 78% of the journalists in the US, I checked the Statista website to see what proportion of US journalists are women. Well, in 2017 women made up 41% of print journalists, 40% of Internet journalists, 37% of those doing evening broadcast, and 31% of wire journalists. So old Tucker is going out of his way to dig up information about women journalists that he can use to fire up members of his base, who will then terrorize said women journalists. Pure sleaze.

The other thing about this to pull forward is that the journalist (Jeremy Barr) doesn’t comment on the gross gender imbalance of Tucker’s targets. Not at all. Nothing. At the very end of the piece he quotes one of the women who talked about how one online troll told her to get COVID and choke and then said:

“It turns out that most people online, maybe disproportionately men, don’t know what this sounds like or feels like at all and they’re completely shocked.”

This is the extent of any discussion about the gendered nature of the abuse and harassment. Maybe Mr. Barr thought it was so obvious it didn’t need to be called out explicitly, but I think it was a major missed opportunity.

May we all be safe from trolls.
May we be willing to call out gendered abuse.
May we not give over our power to bullies.
May we not accept silence about misogyny.

Tracy Simpson

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