Fox News host Tucker Carlson took some criticism for reporting on pandas Monday night when most news junkies were preoccupied with the FBI raids on Donald Trump‘s lawyer Michael Cohen. Sure, to an amateur media critic Carlson’s short, show-ending segment may have seemed like a non-sequitur, but as an experienced media reporter and employee of an outlet where panda skepticism has long thrived, I applaud this editorial choice. Washingtonian spoke with Carlson about how these crappy bears have stayed off everyone’s threat radar for so long.
As you reported, the usual knock on these things is that evolution would take them out without human intervention. But you’re alerting America that they’re vicious, sex-crazed killers.
People don’t understand the nature of the panda. We’ve infantilized them. They’re majestic dominators of their environment. We emphasize the pandas but they’re bears. We’ve turned them into anime and in so doing have sapped their life force. But if you were ever to get into a cage with one of these things….
You’ve been around DC long enough to have some personal experience with pandas. Can you tell me about how you’ve interacted with them in the past?
I have seen the pandas, and to most people they’re either cute little fuzzy playthings or they’re some sort of metaphor for Nixon’s trip to China. But if you were to go back to a panda’s home neighborhood you’d realize they’re Fonzie in Happy Days. Only in America are they considered cuddly.
Do you find pandas cute?
I do in the same way I find cheetahs cute, sure. But I wouldn’t adopt one. We sort of wreck all sorts of foreign imports with our dumb assumptions. Any custom or symbol we import we distort it; you don’t see the original context.
Say more about that?
I guess my point is when the Chinese sent pandas to the US it wasn’t a gesture of friendship, it was a gesture of hostility. They were saying we’re going to eat you someday. The panda was a sign of things to come.
It’s not that far from the zoo to your neighborhood. Are you at all concerned that one of them could trot down Nebraska Avenue and begin wreaking havoc?
Yes, it’s been a concern and that’s one of the reasons I have ferocious Springer Spaniels. I don’t know if they’d win but they’d certainly alert the neighborhood.
Is there any bamboo in your part of DC?
Yeah, there’s a ton, in fact, I live near a park where the Park Service removed bamboo last year.
That doesn’t seem like an accident.
Those of us who were paying attention knew what it was.
You know there’s sort of an underground of DC journalists–not quite Journolist, but close–who hate pandas. Would you be interested in joining their secret society?
I’m not on that list because I’m not a panda hater. I’m a panda respecter.
What’s your next move with regard to pandas, Tucker? Will you stick with this story?
You know, that can never be known. We’re journalists. I can tell you this: When pandas reappear we’ll cover it. When they rise up as the vanguard of the Chinese subsummation of America we’ll be brave enough to say so. They’re obviously the shock troops.
This interview has been condensed and edited.