What Kanye West and Tucker Carlson reveal about the struggle for power
As far as I can tell, Fox News host Tucker Carlson had never interviewed Ye, the musician born Kanye West, before Thursday.
Carlson has hyped West’s politics in the past; the musician’s slow shift into Donald Trump’s broader orbit has been hailed by many on the right.
But it wasn’t until this week, it seems, that Carlson granted Ye airtime for an extended conversation.
This is also the week in which Ye made an international splash while wearing a T-shirt to Paris Fashion Week that proclaimed, in large block letters, “WHITE LIVES MATTER.” And Carlson reached out.
As he opened his show, Carlson framed the interview around the shirt and its message. Ye, Carlson said, had become “a kind of Christian evangelist” whose embrace of the “obviously true” phrase had infuriated the left, to Carlson’s glee.
And, speaking to Carlson, Ye hit the notes that you might expect from a Carlson guest: Trump was great, the left is toxic, etc.
We’ll get back to Carlson’s interest in the news of the week, but we should start by explaining the ways in which Ye’s commentary was unintentionally revealing.
He conveyed a consistent sense of betrayal — by his mother, by his ex-wife Kim Kardashian, by her family and allies — that was conflated with politics.
For example, Ye went on an extended riff about the ownership stakes of Skims, Kardashian’s shapewear line, and how he learned that Jared Kushner’s brother Josh had an unexpectedly large stake in the product.
The average Tucker Carlson viewer is probably not intimately familiar with the celebrity world Ye inhabits; casual references to Kris Jenner’s boyfriend may not have landed.
But once Ye’s presentation is disentangled, the story about the Kushners is a very old-fashioned one overlapping jealousy and the tensions of going into business together.