Tucker Carlson’s recent ousting from Fox News has generated considerable controversy, conversation, and speculation across the political spectrum. As host of the most-watched cable news show on television, Carlson propelled Fox News to ratings dominance over competing networks. There’s more than just ratings behind the conservative outcry over Carlson’s sacking from Fox. Tucker’s loyal following and the reaction to his firing speaks to something deeper – the popular desire for elites who fight for the common man.
In the modern West, we spend little time considering the role of aristocracy and even less time considering the responsibilities of an aristocrat. These discussions have fallen by the wayside of political discourse, yet they are becoming increasingly more relevant as social hierarchies reassert themselves through information-age platforms. In order to fully understand Carlson’s popularity and lasting influence, we must rediscover these concepts.
Noblesse Oblige is a French expression meaning “nobility obliges” – the privilege of nobility carries the moral duty to give generously, act justly, and fight valiantly for those of lower status. This concept can be traced all the way back to Homer. In practice, noblesse oblige is an understanding that the power of an aristocrat must be exercised for the benefit of others. His legitimacy comes not just from his birthright, but from his life of service.
Prior to his firing, Tucker wasn’t just at the top of his game – he was at the top of the whole game. While the term “elites” has become a right-wing pejorative for self-interested power-hungry technocrats, most would consider any household name with millions of nightly viewers an elite. Billionaires, politicians, and media titans form a social aristocracy – setting narratives and shaping the rules of play for the broader public. Yet Carlson’s use of his status in this class stands in sharp contrast to his fellow media elites.
In response to Tucker’s firing, many have pointed to the host’s history of platforming independent journalists, smaller creators, and everyday Americans. The final guest on Tucker Carlson Tonight epitomizes the host’s character. In the segment, Tucker signs off eating pizza and joking with a man he describes as “A heroic pizza delivery man…Tyler Morrell.”
Here were the final moments of @TuckerCarlson Tonight – #Tucker's final guest was the pizza deliveryman who tripped up a suspected car thief. The driver – Tyler Morrell – brought a bunch of pizzas, so the two sat and ate them while mocking the thief.
"We'll be back on Monday!" pic.twitter.com/CSQlJnjqgf
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) April 24, 2023
Tucker’s Fox spot was famous for featuring every-man heroes, unheard voices, and up-and-comers. One such unheard voice, Today News Africa’s reporter Simon Ateba, was removed from the White House Correspondent Association in March. Carlson invited Ateba to tell his story:
Not only has he provided platforms to smaller names and independent journalists, he has also developed a reputation for supporting frontline crusaders for headline issues. In a tweet responding to the news, Gays Against Groomers founder Jaimee Mitchell shared screenshots from an unprompted encouraging text message Carlson sent her:
Tucker Carlson is genuinely one of the kindest, most down to earth people I have ever met in my life. When I had the opportunity to meet him a few months ago, he greeted me as if we had been best friends for a lifetime.
I will forever be grateful to this man for having me on… pic.twitter.com/9RHVBq4gpB
— Jaimee Michell Founder of Gays Against Groomers (@thegaywhostrayd) April 24, 2023
Some men, by their examples, teach us not only how to act better, but what conduct we should expect from others. Tucker’s loyal following is not an accident. He is not loved for being one of many celebrity media personalities. He is not loved for being an elite who simply shares opinions with middle America. Tucker has gained the love and loyalty of fans because he stands uniquely as a champion for the unheard, the overlooked, and the forgotten.
Our social aristocrats may be new on the scene, but the gut reaction to nobility from everyday people is not new – we’ve all just lost the language for it in the West. Tucker Carlson Tonight exemplified that spirit of noblesse oblige. Those who would hold any measure of social power in this new framework should have their moral legitimacy grounded in this principle or be challenged by the public.
Conservatism once knew and should remember again the words of Edmund Burke, “Nobility is a graceful ornament to the civil order. It is the Corinthian capital of polished society.”
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard.