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Tucker Carlson Rips Bill Kristol for Twitter Obsession: ‘Glued to Social Media Like a Slot Machine Junkie in Reno’

Wednesday on his Fox News Channel show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” host Tucker Carlson responded to attacks for a monologue he gave a night earlier on his show about the backlash against monuments created for various American historical figures from former Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.

Kristol made his comments about Carlson on Twitter, to which Carlson blamed the medium of Twitter for the knee-jerk responses from Kristol, a former boss of Carlson.

Transcript as follows:

Last night the top of the show, we addressed the removal of Civil War monuments from public places around the country. We made the point that the sudden outrage over Confederate icons isn’t entirely about slavery, horrifying as slavery is. It’s also part of a larger effort on the left to discredit the founders of this country and the beliefs they enshrined in law. Once you believe that any figure in history who once owned slaves is inherently illegitimate and should be erased, it’s hard to take our founding documents very seriously.

How can you accept the Bill of Rights when it was written by slave owners? Well, you can’t, which is why so many on the left don’t. And ignore the First and Second amendments among many others. That was the point we were trying to make. You may disagree with it but it didn’t seem crazy or mean-spirited. Here’s the tweet that Bill Kristol, the former Weekly Standard editor and contributor sent minutes later referring to our segment last night.

Quote, “They started by rationalizing Trump. They ended by rationalizing slavery.” Rationalizing slavery? That is not even close to what we were saying by any interpretation. What an outrageous thing to say. But it got worse. Just minutes later, Kristol suggested, somehow we were anti-Semitic too. Here’s a second tweet. Quote, “Next, Luther, Voltaire and Marx were anti-Jewish. So, why is it a big deal that the marchers were chanting “Jews will not replace us,” end quote.

OK. That is libel but it is also really stupid. And yet, Bill Kristol isn’t stupid. I know that because I worked for Bill Kristol for more than five years in the 1990s, I knew him well. He was a genuinely smart guy. He’s a good boss, too. He was humane and fair-minded. He was the kind of person I never would imagine would write something that nasty and dishonest about an enemy much less an old friend. What happened?

Well, Kristol refused to explain himself today. We can only guess at that. Part of the explanation has to be the moment that we’re living in right now where hysteria has supplanted rational debate, where the purpose of political argument is no longer to explain your beliefs but to highlight what a morally upstanding person you are, a virtuous guy you are, using by contrast of your opponent who is by definition evil. It’s childish, obviously.

It’s childish, obviously but for many people, it’s pretty tempting. Even 64-year-old men with Harvard degrees fall for it, apparently. But part of the problem is also the medium. Twenty years ago when Bill Kristol had something to say, he had a magazine to say it in. He talked through ideas with his friends, then he spent hours writing a piece that expressed its ideas precisely. There was thinking involved in the process.

Now, he just goes on Twitter and stays on Twitter all day, every day. Dashing off little thoughts and impressions, scoring tiny little points against strangers in cyberspace, keeping obsessive track of his likes and re-tweets. At an age when he could be playing with his grandchildren, Kristol is glued to social media like a slot machine junkie in Reno. And after a while, of course, that distorts you.

When disagree with someone, it doesn’t occur to you to pick up the phone and hash it out. You tweet it, hoping for re-tweets. It’s depressing as hell. Kristol isn’t the only one who does this obviously. Washington is littered with formerly impressive people who now to shout and preen on social media. But I hate to see it with him. I liked Bill Kristol once and I thought he liked me. What a shame.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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