After his reporter Neil Munro's disgraceful performance at the White House Friday, Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson rushed to his defense, complaining "I don't remember Diane Sawyer scolding her colleague Sam Donaldson for heckling President Reagan." Donaldson was quick to respond, countering "I never interrupted any president while he was making a formal presentation of any sort. You don't do that, do you?"
You do, if you're not journalist but instead a hatchet man for the Republican Party, like Tucker Carlson. Carlson's Daily Caller, after all, was funded with $3 million from GOP sugar daddy Foster Friess. (The would be same Foster Friess who has redirected his cash injections from Rick Santorum to Mitt Romney, and suggested this week the GOP's billionaire backers should team up more.) Nevertheless, 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, pretended he runs a non-partisan shop whose goal "is not to get Republicans elected."
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 last week, 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."After the Daily Caller's shocking disrespect for the office of the President this week, there isn't much doubt about Tucker Carlson's sympathy for the devil.