Back in 2004, the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart famously mauled then CNN Crossfire co-host, Tucker Carlson, on his own program. When Carlson cracked that Stewart was funnier on the Daily Show, Stewart countered, “You’re as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.”
Of course, Tucker Carlson is also just as big a dick in print and online. As the Washington Post reported Monday, Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez charged that the allegations that he hired underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic were a smear manufactured by the Cuban regime he so often criticized. And as it turned out, the only media outlet to run with the story which failed to pass everyone else’s smell test was Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller.
As Business Insider revealed, Carlson was shocked—shocked!—to find a political hatchet job going on at the website he launched thanks to a massive cash infusion from right-wing moneyman and Rick Santorum sugar daddy, Foster Friess:
"I guess this means Menendez no longer thinks the story is part of a racist plot against him, as he initially suggested. But Cuban intelligence? It's a bizarre claim, and self-serving, and they've produced no evidence of any kind to prove it. Obviously we're skeptical, but we're making calls right now to see what we can dig up," Carlson told Business Insider in an email Monday night.Of course, Carlson’s feigned surprise is more than a little pathetic. After all, the failed CNN and MSNBC contributor turned Fox News regular Carlson, a man whose father just happened to help lead the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Fund, has long pretended he runs a non-partisan shop whose goal "is not to get Republicans elected."
Please read below the fold for more on Tucker Carlson's antics.
As his future Fox News colleague Howard Kurtz reported in the Washington Post in early 2010, Carlson denied that the Daily Caller would be an organ of the GOP:
But Carlson insists this won't be a right-wing site: "I don't feel guilty about or ashamed in any way of saying we'll cover the people in power," he says, dismissing the capital's Republicans as "totally powerless."In July 2010, Carlson targeted Journolist, the liberal email list managed by the Washington Post's Ezra Klein. In a letter to his readers, Carlson suggested that he selectively made public private emails of reporters and columnists because "What we object to is partisanship, which is by its nature dishonest, a species of intellectual corruption."
"Our goal is not to get Republicans elected. Our goal is to explain what your government is doing. We're not going to suck up to people in power, the way so many have. There's been an enormous amount of throne-sniffing," he says, a sly grin beneath the mop of brown hair. "It's disgusting."
"Again and again, we discovered members of Journolist working to coordinate talking points on behalf of Democratic politicians, principally Barack Obama. That is not journalism, and those who engage in it are not journalists. They should stop pretending to be. The news organizations they work for should stop pretending, too."As it turns out, Tucker made no pretense about being a journalist when he first announced the Daily Caller. It was no surprise that the first edition featured gay bashing, rape jokes, mockery of leading Democrats and opinion pieces by Republican Congressmen. In 2009, he declared his goal was a news site "along the lines of The Huffington Post" with an ideology "not in sync with the current program." And as Kurtz noted:
When he announced the Daily Caller last spring, Carlson was more explicit about its ideology, telling Human Events the site would be "opposed to what's going on" under President Obama -- "a radical increase in federal power... a version of socialism."But as his coverage of the Valerie Plame affair showed, Tucker Carlson's past is a guarantee of future performance.
The scandal surrounding the outing of the covert CIA operative and the subsequent conviction of Cheney chief-of-staff Scooter Libby provides case in point. Few voices on television were more strident in Libby's defense than Tucker Carlson. But throughout, he remained silent on his father's leadership of the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Fund.
From the beginning, Tucker Carlson aimed both barrels at Libby prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. In November 2005, he insisted Fitzgerald was "accusing Libby—falsely and in public—of undermining this country's security," adding, "Fitzgerald should apologize, though of course he never will." Reversing his past position in support of independent counsels, Carlson in February 2007 blasted "this lunatic Fitzgerald, running around destroying people's lives for no good reason."
With Libby's conviction and sentencing in 2007, Carlson the son echoed Carlson the father. Richard Carlson, a former U.S. ambassador and past president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, couriered a check to Libby on the day of his indictment. On May 29, 2007, he reacted to a Fitzgerald filing which confirmed that Valerie Plame was indeed a covert agent at the time of her outing:
"I think it's certainly unseemly that he is kicking him while he's down. For Fitzgerald, to get on his high horse, it's disgusting and he should be ashamed of himself."Just one week later on June 6, 2007, son Tucker joined in, essentially calling Fitzgerald a liar and Plame a perjurer over her clandestine status:
"CIA clearly didn't really give a shit about keeping her identity secret if she's going to work at f**king Langley...I call bullshit on that, I don't care what they say."When President Bush ultimately refused to pardon Scooter, Tucker and Richard Carlson joined Vice President Cheney in expressing their outrage. On January 19th, 2009, Carlson the Elder whined:
"I'm flabbergasted. George Bush has always prided himself on doing the right thing regardless of the polls or the pundits. Now he is leaving office with a shameful cloud over his head."Ironically, that cloud metaphor is the same one Patrick Fitzgerald used to describe the lingering stench from Vice President Cheney's office in the wake of the Plamegate affair. And on the same day Cheney also appeared on CNN to proclaim "I believe firmly that Scooter was unjustly accused and prosecuted and deserved a pardon," Tucker Carlson called Jon Stewart a "partisan hack." (No doubt, that had less to do with the Daily Show host's criticism of CNBC's Jim Cramer and more to do with Stewart having called Carlson a "dick.")
Describing the Daily Caller's lofty journalistic standards back in 2012, Carlson joked:
"If there's a story whose facts are verifiable, and it generates interest, and it comes from Satan himself, I will take it and I will pay him a reporting fee," Carlson said. "But if we take a piece from Satan, that does not mean we're on board with Satan's agenda."As it turns out, for Carlson’s Daily Caller, the facts don’t have to be verifiable, even if the Satan providing them happens to be the Castro regime in Cuba. Apparently, the story just needs to help Republicans get elected.
UPDATE: NBC News in New York reported Tuesday evening that "there is no credible evidence that Cuban government agents hatched a smear campaign to try to link U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez to an underage prostitution scandal, government officials tell NBC 4 New York."