The Louse Who Came To Dinner

Michael Wolff is back with an excerpt from his upcoming book about the Murdoch dynasty: They put the nasty in dynasty. My phrase, not Wolff’s. If he sees this, he’ll steal it. It’s what he does.

The excerpt focuses on Rupert Murdoch, Tucker Carlson, and the dissolution of their once cordial relationship.

We learn that Rupe likes Tucker for his exquisite WASPy manners and dislikes Sean Hannity. Murdoch, too, thinks Hannity is a crude meathead. The meathead became bulletproof because of the Indicted Impeached Insult Comedian, so Rupert fired the host he liked. Feel sorry for Rupe or Tuck-Tuck? Me neither.

We also learn that Fox flacks were behind the leaks that devastated the Mothertucker and made his position at the network untenable. Anyone surprised? Me neither.

The most interesting part of the article is about Murdoch’s attempt to get Carlson to like Rupe’s anointed candidate, Florida Man Ron DeSantis. I call him The Louse because of his faceoff with The Mouse.

The nickname works even better than I thought. Apparently, DeSantis is lousy dinner guest:

“There had been quiet urgings at Fox for Carlson to be open-minded about Murdoch’s favored candidate. By early spring 2023, this had culminated in the DeSantises coming to lunch at the Carlsons’ home in Boca Grande, an exclusive community on Florida’s Gasparilla Island. And certainly, for DeSantis, this was a significant moment — an opportunity to reach out, to break bread, to make nice, to suck up to a plausible kingmaker. The DeSantis strategy, to the degree that he had one other than embodying the media dream of any alternative to Trump, was to make quick proof-of-product inroads into the MAGA base, for which he was heavily dependent on Fox. Winning Carlson over would be an important part of making good use of the network.

Carlson put DeSantis’s fate to a focus group of one: his wife. When they lived in Washington, Susie Carlson wouldn’t even see politicians. Carlson himself may have known everyone, dirtied himself for a paycheck, but not his wife. In her heart, it was 1985 and still a Wasp world, absent people, in Susie Carlson’s description and worldview, who were “impolite, hyperambitious, fraudulent.” She had no idea what was happening in the news and no interest in it. Her world was her children, her dogs, and the books she was reading. So the DeSantises were put to the Susie Carlson test.”

Susie Carlson sounds okay in a snide sorority girl kinda way. I’m biased in favor of pet people. That’s what makes the next bit so appalling:

“They failed it miserably. They had a total inability to read the room — one with a genteel, stay-at-home woman, here in her own house. For two hours, Ron DeSantis sat at her table talking in an outdoor voice indoors, failing to observe any basics of conversational ritual or propriety, reeling off an unself-conscious list of his programs and initiatives and political accomplishments. Impersonal, cold, uninterested in anything outside of himself. The Carlsons are dog people with four spaniels, the progeny of other spaniels they have had before, who sleep in their bed. DeSantis pushed the dog under the table. Had he kicked the dog? Susie Carlson’s judgment was clear: She did not ever want to be anywhere near anybody like that ever again. Her husband agreed. DeSantis, in Carlson’s view, was a “fascist.” Forget Ron DeSantis.”

Here’s artist Jeffrey Smith’s rendering of the scene:

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall or, better yet, a flea on the dog.

Carlson’s people have denied that The Louse kicked Susie’s dog. That must have made Michael Wolff bear his fangs and laugh. He only implied that DeSantis kicked the Carlson’s pooch. If he’d really kicked the dog, a proper spaniel would have bitten back. Back biting is a specialty among right-wing humans, why not their dogs? I just did the same thing Wolff did. I only steal from the best sleaziest.

This is another title driven post. Upon reading about Tucker’s putting on the dog for Ron and his awful wife, I thought of the classic Kauffman and Hart play that was turned into a movie by Warner Brothers:

Sheridan Whiteside came to dinner and never left. Entertaining the Florida Man must have felt like that to the Carlsons. Pet people tend not to like those who dislike their critters. It’s the first time I’ve ever identified with the Carlsons. I’ll get over it.

The analogy collapses when you check out this poster triptych:

Ron DeSantis is no Nathan Lane who is one of our finest actors.

Ron DeSantis is no Monty Woolley who was Cole Porter’s BFF.

Ron DeSantis is no Alexander Woollcott who was the curmudgeonly writer on whom Sheridan Whiteside was based.

Ron DeSantis is certainly no Sheldon Whitehouse, the outstanding senator whose name is eerily similar to Sheridan Whiteside.

Ron DeSantis is just a jerk who doesn’t know how to behave whether he kicked the dog or just slid it out of the way with his foot. That’s why I call him The Louse.

The last word goes to XTC followed by Ruben Blades: