Rich writes: “You could subject a lot of prime-time hosts on other networks to such fine-grained interrogation and they’d be found wanting, yet for some reason there’s no campaign to get compliant advertisers to ruin their TV careers, and no mobs show up at their homes.”
There are plenty of valid criticisms to make of Tucker Carlson as a practitioner of the forensic arts. But if Tucker had always behaved with perfect intellectual probity and had treated his opponents and their arguments with absolutely perfect charity, the same people would be trying to destroy him, using the same tactics and the same arguments, for the same two reasons: The minor reason is that they think that this will help them to hold political power, and the major reason is that they enjoy hurting people and will take any opportunity to do so.
To be clear: They do not desire to hurt people because they hate them — they hate them because they desire to hurt people. What we call “cancel culture” is very little more than free-floating sadism in search of a target. Nobody gets up in the morning hating Justine Sacco or some obscure data analyst nobody’s ever heard of. Sadists get up in the morning wanting to hurt people as a form of recreation, and they find targets, and construct reasons to hate those targets, retrofitting the moral justification onto the sadism, because sadism with self-righteousness is much more enjoyable than sadism on its own — it’s bacon and eggs. These are people who don’t get enough of a kick out of pulling the wings off of flies but who don’t have the stomach to torture stray cats or cannibalize hitchhikers or whatever it is that more ambitious sadists did before there was Twitter.