MSNBC host Tucker Carlson is like that talented kid on the football squad who could tear up all the opponents on the field if he only had the taste for blood. He’s smart, he’s articulate – he’s ditched the bowtie – he should be able to mop up the studio floor with his howling liberal guests. But they often run rings around him.
Compare him to O’Reilly: last week Bill debated Geraldo about a story in which an illegal immigrant teen hit and killed a woman. Things got hot and the two men actually broke out into shouts. Spanish vs Irish tempers flared and they actually screamed, nose-to-nose, for about a minute and a half.
Now, certainly shrieking does not improve the tenor of civil discourse in the media. There’s too much of it already, frankly. The Dems, in particular, are overfond of harsh rhetoric. The Beast has long believed that when your arguments suck you must recourse to emotion to fill in the gaps. It’s kind of like the dimwit playground bully whom nobody dares show up in class else he receive a fistful of knuckles at recess. Challenge the sacred tenets of The Liberal Orthodoxy and you had best be prepared for the hate-hammer blows to come. The point is not to rebut, the point is to scare people into silence so there is no need to rebut. O’Reilly is not scared – he trades punches happily.
O’Reilly, unlike Tucker loves to wrestle in the mud under the swings. Tucker is more Buckleysque – he sidesteps confrontation in favor of cooler, reasoned debate. But unlike Buckley, who was more than happy to tear into an exposed jugular, Tucker rarely, if ever moves in for the kill. Pehaps that’s why he has survived in lefty MSNBC for so long – he’s the house rightie; unthreatening. He provides ideological cover. But that’s also why the Beast doesn’t watch him anymore: the Beast is weary of yelling at the TV screen “Get him! Nail him Tucker! DIG! DIG! DIG!”.
“Aw hell, hit the bench. O’Reilly, get your ass in there!”
Tucker has no passion.
Yesterday The Beast tuned into his show to watch him discuss the Imus “nappy headed ho’s” flap with nationally syndicated radio show host (and self-described “gun-totin’, red meat-eatin’ lefty.”) Ed Schultz. This is the same Schultz who called for Bill Bennett’s scalp over comments he made on Dennis Prager’s radio show in 2005, which Schultz deemed racist. This time around Schultz seemed to see a lot more gray areas in the issue:
SCHULTZ: Personally, I don‘t think the guy should be fired. I think he has sounded very sincere in his apology.
Tucker pounced – or at least he reacted with what for him is the closest he ever comes to pouncing:
CARLSON: I‘m not calling for him to be fired either. I am just struck by the quickness with which the very liberals who attacked George Allen, say, for using the word macaca, are willing to al but forgive Don Imus. Why is that?
Schultz blanched and squirmed beautifully.
SCHULTZ: Well, I think that‘s an interesting point. The fact is that Senator Allen lost in the arena of public opinion. He lost his election. I think he‘d probably like to have that macaca comment back. Now the question is, in the free market, is Don Imus going to pay a price?
For once, Tucker kept up the heat:
CARLSON: Wait, hold on, Ed, with all do respect, you‘re better than that. That‘s a dodge. We‘re not talking about public opinion here. I‘m asking, what the gut reaction — I saw people beat the crap out of George Allen every day; “He‘s a racist.” He was sincere in his apologies too, and yet, those same people are awfully easy on Don Imus. And it seems to me there are two different standards here. I have suspicions about why, but I would like to know your theory.
SCHULTZ: The public rendered judgment on Senator Allen. The public is going to render judgment on Don Imus. We‘ll find out over time whether this is just going to be another incident, or if the public is really going to push back and ignore the guy, and not listen to him or watch him anymore. I mean, he is an arena now where he‘s under a microscope. Is this really what Don Imus thinks about college women basketball players?
CARLSON: Wait a second, so you‘re coming out and, you know, you‘re not being easy on Don Imus. But you‘re saying, look, he is sincere. Is this really what he thinks? He‘s probably not a racist. And yet when George Allen said macaca, I believe, in fact I‘m certain, that you were one of the first to say, you know, he is basically a member of the Klan and he shouldn‘t hold state-wide office, federal office as a result.
SCHULTZ: I didn‘t say that, but I did point out the fact that he had a noose in his office.
CARLSON: OK, well I could point to 15 statements has made over the past 30 years that are just appalling.
SCHULTZ: Absolutely, but the market played out. The people decided they didn‘t want George Allen. Now the people and the listeners are going to decide whether they want Don Imus.
CARLSON: OK, we can take a poll of the people. I want to know what you think, Ed. That‘s why you‘re on the show. I want to why you are applying—not the people out there, who we can‘t see. You specifically are holding Don Imus to a different standard. And I believe it‘s because he‘s rich and famous.
SCHULTZ: I am not holding Don Imus to a different standard. I think it‘s a sad day in America when a guy can‘t apologize for making a mistake. That‘s what I think. And I think that George Allen was sincere that he would like to have that comment back, and maybe he didn‘t mean it, but the free market took place. He lost that election. Personally, I don‘t see a real parallel here.
But I do believe that he offended a lot of people. Nobody in America is out there defending Don Imus. The question is, is it a fireable offense.
CARLSON: Well, actually lots of people are defending Don Imus, in effect, by going on his show. And I‘m not questioning their right to do that. But when people go on his show immediately after something like this, that is, in effect, showing support for him. They have a right to do it.
Again, I‘m not attacking them for doing it, but they‘re essentially defending Don Imus. Yes they are. And they were not defending Trent Lott. They were not defending, as I said, George Allen, or a bunch of other people who clearly misspoke, who‘s words didn‘t represent their hearts, as Bush would say.
SCHULTZ: I think there were a lot of people that defended Trent Lott and that‘s why he didn‘t get fired right away.
CARLSON: Yes, but all these pious liberals didn‘t. They jumped on him like he was the Grand Kleagle.
Tucker did a fine job right up till the end. Then he did what he always does – what Buckley and O’reilly would never do – he passed up the kill!
SCHULTZ: You know, Tucker, this is not a left, right, Republican, Democrat issue with Don Imus. This is about decency and what is acceptable on the air. And every broadcaster in this country is watching to see how this thing is going to play out. Nobody would want his problems right now. But I do think that he has been sincere in his apology. And I also find it very interesting that Al Sharpton is not going after the rappers the same way he is going after Don Imus. I think there‘s a double standard there.
CARLSON: I don‘t think anybody—anybody believes that Al Sharpton is burdened with consistency. We do hold him to different standards. Thanks a lot, Ed. I appreciate your coming on.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
Oh Tucker – a bland dig aimed at Sharpton? How lame.
Back to bench for you.