Friday, July 28, 2006

Tucker, the Man and his Image

Has anybody noticed how Tucker Carlson has completely rebuilt himself over the last two weeks. On the July 10 the name of his show was changed from "The Situation with Tucker Carlson" to simply "Tucker." I only kind of noticed at the time. I'm not a big fan. But I was happened to stop by and there he was, almost completely unrecognizable. He's gained weight, which looks good on him. His hair is longer and windswept. The professorial bow-tie and tweed are one. He was wearing a polo shirt. He was broadcasting from Beirut. Not only that but his commentary was considerably different than what I'd heard from him before. He was no longer editorializing with a conservative voice. His stuff was balanced and informative. He had a real passion when talking about the destruction in Beirut, and although he made it clear he wasn't criticizing Israel's right to defend itself he was pretty clear that he thinks the war in Iraq has had devastating consequences.

Meet the new Tucker.

Is he positioning himself for the predicted swing to the left which many have predicted the country is approaching? Has the war in the Mideast changed his views? Has he had an epiphany of some kind on the Road to Damascus (ok, Beirut, but he'd go there if he could)? Image is everything in TV: why would he change a successful, marketable image? Is he trying to be Geraldo?

Maybe he's just being the war correspondent, and is polo shirt is the contemporary equivalent of Walter Winchell's epaulets.

Whatever the case it is fascinating to see how he has positioned himself in the current Lebanese conflict. For some of the time he was having a dialogue with Chris Mathews of Hardball. Chris is highly critical of the administration, blaming them for creating a "Shia Crescent" (he's the only person I've heard use this term so far) extending from Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon and Syria, through Iraq and into Iran, which poses, in his view, is highly de-stabilizing for the region. Tucker seemed completely to agree. It was a position highly critical of Bush and Tucker went right along with it, adding his own concerns for the loss of a moderate multi cultural democracy in the region if Hezbollah is pushed back into Beirut and the mass exodus of Lebanese Christians continues. It was a whole different guy. No longer smirking, no longer the Bob Dobbs talking head, it was a person with passion reporting the news and questioning the consequences of our and Israel's actions. Pretty weird.


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