At first glance, the meteoric rise of Fox News Channel's Tucker Carlson to the upper echelon of cable news rankings is reminiscent of 1980s shock-jock Talk Show Host Morton Downey, Jr. Both were plucked from relative obscurity and suddenly found themselves as unlikely ratings magnets.

The two look nothing alike. The slovenly, chain-smoking Downey appears to be the complete opposite of the cherubic Carlson, who has finally discarded the bow ties that were his trademark at MSNBC and CNN, where he was host of "Crossfire" and was famously told by comedian Jon Stewart that he was ruining cable news.

Carlson shared a few things in common with the late Mr. Downey, however. Both selected easy targets and then bullied them for the audience's enjoyment. And while it seems much more genteel when a well-dressed talk show host like Carlson goes on the attack when compared to a street fighter like Downey, the results are the same — information and news are sacrificed for spectacle.

A more apt comparison for Tucker Carlson might be the great heavyweight champion of the 1940s, Joe Louis. During his heyday, Louis's managers kept the heavyweight title and kept the cash flowing by having their boxer fight one ill-prepared fighter after another, a group that was affectionately referred to as the Bum of the Month Club.

Each of its members stepped into the ring and tried to hold on for as long as he could until he suddenly found himself looking up and listening as the referee counted to 10. After that, all Louis had to do was cash the check.

There was a certain sameness to all of Joe Louis's bouts, just as there is to each episode of "Tucker Carlson Tonight." Every weeknight, a sacrificial lamb is offered to the Fox News host.

In some cases, it is someone who supports gun control or Black Lives Matter or something else that is anathema to the network's aging conservative audience. Many times, the victims are liberal politicians such as Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) who appeared on Carlson's program on September 6 to discuss DACA.

Carlson the bully

During the interview with Cuellar, Carlson employed his usual bag of tricks, beginning with the slightly perplexed look he invariably has at the beginning of his interviews as if he is having trouble understanding what on earth this person is talking about. Carlson's brow furrows as is he is carefully weighing every word his guest is saying.

Then at some point, as he did again with Rep. Cuellar, Carlson will ask a question, listen to the first few words of the response, and then break in with the "You're not answering my question," that he says nearly every time. The guest starts again, often saying, "I'm trying to," but soon Carlson will again interrupt with, "You're not answering my question." By that time, it is apparent that the guest is answering the question, it's just not the answer Tucker Carlson wants to hear, or the one he thinks his viewers want to hear.

Before long, Carlson will cut into the guest's attempts to answer his question with a derisive chuckle, a message to his audience that his guest has no idea what he or she is talking about, and then he will bring the segment to a close. Another liberal bites the dust. It is not too long before the segment hits YouTube, posted by Fox News Channel and by Carlson followers with headlines indicating that Carlson "destroyed" or "shredded" his guest.

Tucker Carlson's rise

Carlson, like Downey three decades ago, rose from relative obscurity and failed host positions at CNN and MSNBC, before latching on to Fox News Channel, where he did his time as a host on the weekend "Fox and Friends" before being moved to Greta VanSusteren's 7 p.m.

time slot when she opted out of her contract.

He had only been in that time slot for a few months when Megyn Kelly, a rising star at FNC, jumped ship and signed with NBC. Carlson's good fortune continued as Bill O'Reilly, host of the number one show on cable news,"The O'Reilly Factor," was forced out following sexual harassment allegations.

Carlson is still number one in his time slot, but CNN's Anderson Cooper's audience is growing. Carlson is helped by rival MSNBC's weakest link, "All In with Chris Hayes," which has been unable to take advantage of the ratings boost other MSNBC hosts have received since the Donald Trump presidency began.

While O'Reilly was number one nearly every night for 20 years, Carlson lost the ratings crown to MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" in August, has fallen behind Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity, and on some nights has had lower ratings than MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell's "The Last Word" and "The Five" on Fox News.

With time slot shakeups rumored at the once unchallenged leading network in cable news, how long will it be before "Tucker Carlson Tonight" and the Bum-of-the-Day Club goes the way of Morton Downey, Jr? How long will the pretender be able to hang on to the throne?