For five years between 2006 and 2011, Tucker Carlson appeared occasionally on the show of shock-jock Bubba the Love Sponge.
This was a stupid decision and Carlson said stupid things — which, in case you haven’t listened to shock-jock shows, is exactly what happens when you go on there.
On Sunday, Media Matters for America — the David Brock-founded organization which has made numerous attempts to get Carlson off the air — “unearthed” some of these comments and published them.
It’s obviously created a firestorm online and plenty of calls (yet again) for both sponsors and Fox News to abandon Carlson.
These are the original remarks posted by Media Matters, which we warn you are graphic. Reader discretion is advised.
— Media Matters (@mmfa) March 10, 2019
Instead of the usual tack of apology, however, Carlson decided to sail into the wind. On Sunday, after the comments first surfaced, he said he wasn’t going to “express the usual ritual contrition.”
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) March 11, 2019
On Monday, he addressed the remarks on his TV show without actually rehashing them. Instead, he attacked “the mob” that he said was, as his background graphics put it, engaged in a “crackdown on dissent.”
“The great American outrage machine is a remarkable thing,” Carlson began. “One day you’re having dinner with your family, imagining everything is fine. The next, your phone is exploding with calls from reporters.”
But Carlson made it clear he was not going to “bow to the mob.”
“Why are the people who considered Bill Clinton a hero lecturing me about sexism?” Carlson asked during the monologue, seeming to reference Media Matters’ documented closeness to the Clintons.
“How can the party that demands racial quotas denounce other people as racist? After a while, you begin to think maybe their criticisms aren’t sincere.”
Liberals, he said, treat politics as “war.”
“They’re not interested in abstractions, principles, rules or traditions,” he said. “They seek power. They claim to win it, whatever it takes. If that includes getting you fired or silencing you or threatening your family at home or throwing you in prison, OK.”
(Carlson, unfortunately, was speaking from personal experience about threats to his family.)
As for conservatives, he said it was time for them to get a backbone.
“Republicans in Washington do a fairly credible imitation of an opposition party,” he said. “But on the deepest level, it’s all a pose. In their minds, where it matters, Republican leaders are controlled by the left.
“They know exactly what they’re allowed to say and believe. They know what they rules are. They may understand that those rules are written by the very people who seek their destruction. They ruthlessly enforce them anyway.
“Republicans in Washington police their own with a never-ending enthusiasm. Like trusties at a prison, they dutifully report back to the warden, hoping for perks. Nobody wants to be called names. Nobody wants to be Trump.
“The mob demands a response. Very often, the first people calling for the destruction of that person are Republican leaders,” he added. “You saw it with the Covington Catholic High School kids. You see it all the time. (House Minority Leader) Kevin McCarthy spends half his day telling Republican members not to criticize progressive orthodoxy. (Former Speaker) Paul Ryan did the same before him.”
As for an apology, Carlson reiterated he wasn’t particularly interested in going down that path.
“There’s really not that much you can do to respond,” he said. “It’s pointless to try to explain how the words were spoken in jest or taken out of context or in any case bear no resemblance to what you actually think or would want for the country.
“None of that matters. Nobody cares. You know the role you’re required to play: You are a sinner, begging the forgiveness of Twitter.”
Let’s face facts here: What Carlson said was bad. There’s not a whole lot of disagreement there. It was also, again, on a shock-jock’s radio show, so that has to be taken into context. But the point is that even if he hadn’t made these remarks on an idiotic radio show, the left still wouldn’t like him.
Carlson could be the mildest, most self-effacing conservative in the world. He could say he was sorry for pretty much everything Media Matters disagreed with. They’d still loathe him. Leftists hate Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan as much as they hate Tucker Carlson. They’re probably thankful for the ideological cover the former two give them, but that doesn’t mean the knives won’t come out when the opportunity arises.
So, why try to appease people who’ll hate you no matter what?
Carlson already acknowledged that he “said something naughty on a radio show.” While it goes a bit deeper than that, it’s still not the career-destroying moment Media Matters believes it is.
This “unearthed” material is a decade old. It’s being trotted out now because apparently someone remembered it happened and decided it could score political points.
When Carlson isn’t willing to concede these points, however, the task of making him look monstrous becomes significantly harder.
Perhaps GOP leadership could learn a lesson from this.
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