In an angry monologue on his Tuesday night show, Fox News host Tucker Carlson tore into Michelle Obama for her speech to the Democratic National Convention, accusing Democrats of elevating her to the level of a religious leader.
“Michelle Obama, it’s fair to say, has done pretty well for herself,” Mr Carlson said. “But what she wanted you to know last night is that she is still a victim. She and everyone who looks like her. So shut up and accept her dominion over you!”
The speech that had infuriated Mr Carlson was widely received as by far the best of Monday’s Democratic convention night, echoing her still-remembered address to the 2016 convention in which she debuted what has become her signature line: “When they go low, we go high.”
Mr Carlson, however, considered her speech low indeed. Among his various problems with Ms Obama’s speech was her claim that “a never-ending list of innocent people of colour continue to be murdered” in the US every year, something he called “a total and complete crock” – on the grounds that “only eight” unarmed black men have been killed in 2020 thus far.
His overall critique, however, was much broader. Over the course of four furious minutes, Mr Carlson complained that Ms Obama used her speech to decree that “if you disagree with what she says, you are a bigot”.
Pointing to her acceptance that “I understand that my message won’t be heard by some people”, Mr Carlson erupted.
“Why won’t they hear her message?” he fumed. “Well, because they’re bad people, that’s why. ‘Half the country is evil! They hate me for my race!’ Says the woman whose husband was elected by that very same country twice in a row, hence allowing her to buy an $11m spread on Martha’s Vineyard from which she lectures the plebes.”
Accusing the former first lady of hypocrisy for giving a speech at the convention while saying she “hates politics”, Mr Carlson compared her to the founder of the church of Scientology and described a Democratic party that has morphed into something like a cult.
“You probably still think of the left as secular. But not any more. They are fervent religious fanatics. Michelle Obama is their L. Ron Hubbard. Everything she does is good by definition, she’s the most beautiful, the smartest, the wisest. If Michelle Obama played golf, she would shoot an 18 every time.”
While plenty of right-wing and Trump-supporting social media users sounded their agreement with Mr Carlson’s monologue, others dismissed it as a “rant” and accused him of “losing his mind”, or decried it as racist.
One Twitter user, addressing Mr Carlson directly, described herself as a conservative who has left the Republican party because of “radicals” and “propagandists” like the Fox News host and the president – and that even though she had never been an Obama fan, she now found herself defending them from the likes of him.
“I don’t support the Obama’s whatsoever,” she wrote, “BUT your unhinged rant is full of lies – as per usual.”
Mr Carlson ended his broadside by simultaneously dismissing the speech’s impact and issuing a final declaration that to dissent from Ms Obama is now considered beyond the pale.
“The speech was ordinary. It was totally pedestrian, like almost everything Michelle Obama says. But you can’t admit that, you’ve gotta pretend that she’s Aristotle. That’s the law.”