On Monday, Tucker Carlson to great fanfare launched The Daily Caller, a conservative alternative to The Huffington Post. But even as the first edition featured gay-bashing, rape jokes, mockery of leading Democrats and opinion pieces by Republican Congressmen, analysts wondered whether TDC's $3 million in funding from right-wing money man Foster Friess would influence Carlson's content. But as his past on-air cheerleading for his father Richard's good friend Scooter Libby shows, Tucker Carlson can't only be bought, he can be had for free.
Of course, that's not what the bow-tied exile from CNN and MSNBC would have you believe. As Howard Kurtz reported in the Washington Post, Carlson denied that the Daily Caller would be an organ of the GOP:
"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."
Sadly, that's a far cry from Carlson's conservative clarion call in announcing his excellent online adventure last year. Last summer, 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."
Of course, that conclusion is for others to reach. In the mean time, there can be little doubt about the guiding principal in Tucker Carlson's trinity of the father, the son and the holy GOP.
Father knows best.
** Crossposted at Perrspectives **