The day before yesterday, 29 June 2020, the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that severely limited access to legal abortions. In addition, US intelligence officials confirmed that in February Donald Trump received a briefing that warned Russia may be contracting members of the Taliban to murder US soldiers serving in Afghanistan. However, despite the newsworthiness of these events, neither was the lead story of the day. That honor went to King Coronavirus, who continues his conquest of the Deep South in a podunk revival of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.”
After supper, to catch up on the news of the day, my wife Caroline and I watched CNN’s Anderson Cooper. He presented an acerbic take on the Trump Administration’s attempts to spin a shitshow of Stygian proportions into a triumph of leadership. Trump’s spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany described the 40,000 new US cases (an 80% increase over the last fourteen days) as a “few embers” in the Administration’s successful campaign to contain the disease. I didn’t hear her opine on the SCOTUS decision, but she did claim that Trump hadn’t been briefed on the Russian sponsored bounty hunters, an obvious lie that now has been refuted by multiple sources.
I wonder how Fox News is spinning this,” I asked Caroline.
“I wonder,” she said. “Let’s check it out.”
So, I reached for the remote, scrolled downward on the guide, landed on Fox News, and hit the button. There before me, looking nervously out of sorts, appeared Tucker Carlson.
Let’s see if I can conjure my inner Henry James:
Mr. Tucker Carson, once a boyish presence on cable television, is now beginning to show the wear and tear of nights spent in the garish glare of klieg lighting, his visage crowned by an abundance of hair, brown in color and wavy in texture, his face dominated by two rather small eyes staring straight ahead above a mouth that is thin-lipped and turned ever so slightly downward in what appears to be the onset of a frown.
(Sorry about that. I’m rereading James now, and the fits and starts of his formal prose are messing with my thought patterns, bric-a-brac-ing my syntax, de-bebopping the funkification of my everyday speech).
Anyway, Tucker’s lead story dealt with a married couple from St. Louis who rushed out of their palatial home like a Talbots-clad Bonnie and Clyde, the husband, sporting a pink tucked-in polo shirt and brandishing what looked like an assault weapon, his wife wearing white-and-blue horizonal stripes and waving a handgun with her finger actually on the trigger, a gun safety no-no.
Why? It seems that a contingent of protesters had breached the borders of their private neighborhood. In the never-ending loop of video accompanying the story, the protesters seemed scant and, as the President might say, “low energy.” However, to the Talbots, they were a mob set to burn down their house. “How could you burn something like that down?” Caroline wondered aloud, noting it looked more like a bank than a house. It seems the protesters were searching for the Mayor’s house and may have mistaken the Talbots as his.
Like I said, this was Tucker’s lead story – not King Coronavirus, not the SCOTUS ruling, not the possibility that Putin is putting a bounty on the heads of American soldiers and the Commander in Chief is ignoring it. No, the lead story was a peek into the future of a Biden presidency, the police defunded as hordes of Far-Left Radical Marxists wreak havoc on the sanctity of our gated communities, a prequel to Blade Runner.
This message of impending doom meshed well with the commercials. Because corporate sponsors have abandoned Tucker’s show, the commercials punctuating the segments are what you’d expect to see on Basic cable reruns of My Mother the Car, i.e., advertisements targeting an aged demographic: senior citizens in the market for ointments to relieve their aching joints or some elixir to take the edge off their anxiety. In fact, two different ads were pushing sedatives for anxious dogs. The only upbeat commercial was a 90-second spot hawking a memoir written by Mr. Pillow Man himself, a tale of redemption charting his upward arc from addiction to wealth thanks to the intervention of God Almighty. The rest of the ads promoted miracle chemicals going for $19.99 that can remove decades of accumulated exterior mold in a couple of squirts or patch a leaking roof with a mere swipe of a brush.
What struck me more than anything was how unhappy Tucker looked. Whenever a guest was pontificating, Tucker’s face was frozen in the expression captured above in the photo, his mug unanimated, stamped with consternation, not so much looking like a deer in the headlights, but more like a losing member of a World Series team staring out of the dugout as an unsurmountable deficit ticks away in the final outs.
 The setting has been changed from the locked-up castle of Poe’s story to the crowded pews/choirs of mega churches and the close confines of basement bars.
 Speaking of podunk, “Kayleigh” sounds like the name of countrified vixen from a soap opera set in an RV campground.
 Pardon the tautology.