If you're trying to make sense of the state of American politics right now, I don't suggest trying to square this with your understanding of who plays for what team. But prep-schooled Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson spoke at the massive funeral for Hells Angels founder Sonny Barger on Saturday, and he claimed to be a big fan.
Maybe it's evidence of the fact that Carlson will show up to any big, likely-to-be-publicized event he's invited to speak at. Or it's evidence of the unholy alliance between Trump-y America, far-right militia groups, outlaw biker gangs, and the conservative media elite. But Tucker Carlson was invited to speak at Sonny Barger's funeral service on Saturday, reportedly attended by thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts and Hells Angels members at the Stockton Speedway, and he showed up.
Wearing a blue button-down, khakis, and loafers with no socks, Carlson spoke of how he'd admired Barger since college — claiming, spuriously, that the motorcycle outlaw was an idol for him and his college roommate at Connecticut's Trinity College.
The Tucker Carlson🤝Hells Angels collab just dropped pic.twitter.com/oSfhKhlnpL— Old Row (@OldRowViral) September 26, 2022
Carlson said he'd dropped everything, cleared his schedule, and made his way "from Maine to Stockton" in order to attend the event.
Carlson quoted Barger's final statement in his speech. "‘Stay loyal, remain free, and always value honor.’ And I thought to myself, if there is a phrase that sums up more perfectly what I want to be, what I aspire to be and the kind of man that I respect, I can’t think of a phrase that sums it up more perfectly than that,” Carlson said. "I want to pay tribute to the man who spoke those words."
Also, per the Daily Mail, Carlson turned things political saying, "The president of the United States should be saying that — every single morning as he salutes the flag — but only Sunny Barger is saying it."
The speech sounds like the kind of concoction a priest might come up with for a funeral of someone he didn't know, based on a Facebook post or two, but maybe that's giving Carlson too much credit.
It's not really clear where Barger fits in to the pantheon of heroes that Carlson blathers on about in his nightly Fox News program — or what Carlson's core audience of fearful elderlies and rabid Trump voters thinks of the Hells Angels on the spectrum of fierce American independence and law-and-order conservatism. Are these bikers all strict textualists when it comes to Constitutional law? Or do they just represent the anti-Martha's Vineyard?
The biker gang has been implicated in a range of criminal activity over the decades, and Barger himself was convicted multiple times of assault, firearms charges, and heroin possession — he also faced attempted murder and domestic violence charges, and SFist pointed out after he passed that he spent a good chunk of his life in prison up until his mid-50s.
Ironically, the Hells Angels were who the hippies turned to in the Haight Ashbury of the late 1960s to provide some non-cop security in the neighborhood. That relationship soured after the Angels were hired by the organizers of the Altamont Free Concert in December 1969 — an event headlined by the Rolling Stones that ended with four people dead, including one Berkeley man stabbed in the neck by one of the Angels.
Either Carlson is ignorant of this history and was just chasing more Twitter followers — not implausible! — or he honestly feels like this constituency of beer-drinking, outlaw and wannabe-outlaw Americans on motorcycles are his people.
Whatever the case, Carlson is courting this demographic, and/or he's always fancied himself a closeted motorcycle outlaw and he's watched too many episodes of Sons of Anarchy.
In related news, that disgusting stunt Ron DeSantis pulled in shipping a planeload of migrants to Martha's Vineyard? That was Carlson's idea. Maybe he's positioning himself to become the next Bannon in a DeSantis White House?
John Oliver straight up humiliates Ron DeSantis on Last Week Tonight.— Brad Bo ☮️🇺🇸 (@BradBeauregardJ) September 26, 2022
Turns out, the Florida governor is just a tool for Fox News and Tucker Carlson...just like the rest of the Republican politicians. pic.twitter.com/hvxgYHqnNY
Top image: Tucker Carlson speaks during the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) Feszt on August 7, 2021 in Esztergom, Hungary. The multiday political event was organized by the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC), a privately managed foundation that recently received more than $1.7 billion in government money and assets. The leader of its main board, Balazs Orban, who is also a state secretary in the prime minister's office, said MCC's priority is promoting "patriotism" among the next generation of Hungary's leaders. (Photo by Janos Kummer/Getty Images)