Tucker Carlson's incoherent impeachment analysis

Fox’s Tucker Carlson opened his December 17 show by misinforming his audience about public support for impeachment and then drew a conclusion that contradicted his own misinformation.

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Citation From the December 17, 2019, edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): Democrats have been promising to do this since before the president was even elected president and yet still, it feels kind of weird, surprising, surreal even that it's finally going to happen. Why? Because impeachment -- and there's really no disagreement about this -- is a terrible idea for the country. At this point, there's no question that Democrats can't actually remove the president. And in trying, they will only hurt themselves. The polls are clear. And yet -- and here's the fascinating point -- they're doing it anyway.


The entire impeachment saga, in fact, has become detached from reality. Here are the most basic facts about it: Democrats do not have the votes to remove President Trump from office. They never will have the votes to remove the president. The point of impeachment is to remove a president. They cannot do that. This process is doomed before it begins.

And by the way, they don't have the votes because voters don't support it. The irony is that our democracy is working just fine. Voters support it, in fact, less than they did. After a full month of watching public hearings on impeachment, Democrats have not gained support -- they have lost it. In late October when this began, about half the country backed impeachment, 44% said they were opposed to impeachment. In the most recent polling, those numbers have inverted. In other words, the more people learned about impeachment, the less they wanted impeachment. That is not one person's opinion. That is the sum total of the polling -- the numbers could not be clearer on this question.


But what hasn't changed is the rage storm they created with years of propaganda. They whipped their voters into such a frenzy that the voters can't be pulled back now, they want blood. And so Democrats have no choice but to march forward despite the fact that it will inevitably destroy them and they know it will. It's poignant almost.

Let’s break this down. Carlson’s claim that “the numbers could not be clearer” on impeachment is just false. The results of various polls on the question show the public is deeply divided. The FiveThirtyEight average shows that roughly 47% of voters support President Donald Trump’s impeachment and removal and 46% do not, and the RealClearPolitics average shows that approximately 47% support and 48% do not. These figures do not show a clear mandate against impeachment as Carlson claims, and there have been no wild swings of support in either direction.

There is one breakout trend in the polls that does clearly show consensus, however -- Democrats overwhelmingly support impeachment and removal, and Republicans do not. In fact, the FiveThirtyEight average shows that about 83% percent of Democrats support the process, compared to less than 10% of Republicans. Carlson is also contradicting his own network’s polling on impeachment. Fox News’ most recent poll found that 54% of respondents want to see Trump impeached by the House, and 50% support his removal by the Senate. (On-air talent struggling to spin their own network’s polls is an ongoing problem for Fox.)

Most amazing, perhaps, is that Carlson builds up his monologue on a false premise about polling and then draws a conclusion that contradicts his own lies, claiming that “years of propaganda” from Democrats have “whipped their voters into such a frenzy” that they “can’t be pulled back now” because “they want blood.” This analysis makes a mockery of the show’s self-defined mandate to be the “sworn enemy of lying, pomposity, smugness, and groupthink” and sounds more like an incredibly condescending way to talk about a huge number of voters. Carlson is simply writing off half of the voters in the coming election as mindless victims of partisan misinformation. This is especially rich coming from a Fox News host -- the network has defended the president so breathlessly at every turn that data show Fox viewers are more likely to support the president than consumers of any other media outlet and Republicans in general.

Carlson's premises are mutually exclusive -- either voters don’t want impeachment and Democrats have made a break from reality, or so many of them are anxious to see it happen that they’re forcing the Democrats’ hands. Both cannot be true, unless somehow Carlson doesn’t consider supporters of the Democratic Party, a significant share of the American population, real voters. It thus raises the question -- what is it about the Democratic coalition that Carlson finds both easy and necessary to ignore? 

But one thing is certain: Carlson’s incoherent analysis makes clear that he, and not pro-impeachment Democrats, is the one “detached from reality.”