Tucker Carlson, the massively popular host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News, lies on TV.
In other news, Phoenix is hot in the summer. It rains in Seattle. And the sky is blue. Some things you simply know without having to say them out loud. But Carlson did say the quiet part loud.
This is not me, a frequent Carlson critic, saying that he lies. Or not just me.
This is Carlson, in an interview over the weekend, saying so himself.
Carlson was being interviewed by Dave Rubin on Rubin’s show “The Rubin Report,” which airs on YouTube and BlazeTV. It’s a chummy chat, of the “why are you so great?” variety. It certainly isn’t gotcha journalism. Carlson can’t say he was tricked into saying this.
Rubin was asking Carlson about CNN anchors like Brian Stelter, Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon — he called them “clown people” — who “just lie again and again.”
Here’s what Carlson said:
“I guess I would ask myself, like, I mean, I lie if I’m cornered or something. I lie. I really try not to. I try never to lie on TV. I just don’t — I don’t like lying. I certainly do it, you know, out of weakness or whatever, but to systematically lie like that, without asking yourself, why am I doing this?”
And there you have it. Tucker Carlson lies.
Carlson’s moment of introspection was fleeting, but important
Carlson, the fleeting moment of introspection evidently gone, goes on to say that other anchors lie to protect the system, whatever that is. Fully recovered at this point, he reverts to sanctimonious mode, his default position: “How dare you do that? How dare you use your power to protect and guard the powerful?’
How indeed? There’s no evidence that’s what they’re doing. Unlike Carlson, they certainly haven’t admitted to it.
Now Carlson has.
People have a funny idea about how journalism actually works. I often get emails from readers who believe that either my editors tell me what to write — they don’t, so the blame falls to me — or that some nefarious outfit somewhere pays journalists to write certain stories in certain ways, that we are essentially doing the bidding of political fixers somewhere.
We also aren’t perfect. Journalists, including those who write or broadcast their opinions, sometimes make mistakes. No one is perfect, and no one worth reading or listening to claims to be. We try to be as accurate as possible at all times. When we make mistakes we do our best to fix them.
CNN anchors make mistakes. MSNBC anchors make mistakes. Fox News anchors make mistakes. I make mistakes, too.
News is an on-the-go proposition. Stories change and journalists — reputable ones — report facts as they know them, responsibly and as quickly as they can. It’s far from a perfect system, but overall it works.
Mistakes are bad. Lies are worse
But mistakes are just that: mistakes.
A lie is something different. Mistakes are bad. Lies are worse.
A lie is intentional. Carlson didn’t spell out exactly when he lied, and Rubin wasn’t about to ask him; he seemed too giddy about talking with his pal and trashing CNN for anything like that.
Carlson doesn’t have to spell it out. His admission puts anything he says under suspicion.
We know that he falsely claimed that George Floyd died of a drug overdose after autopsies ruled Floyd’s death a homicide. He claimed there was “meaningful voter fraud” in Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 election. In April he said that maybe the COVID-19 vaccine “doesn’t work, and they’re simply not telling you that.”
These aren’t mistakes. They’re lies. And they’re lies Carlson couches in such a way that he can come back and say something like: Wait, I said “maybe.” I was just repeating a theory some people are saying. I’m just throwing it out there.
Or some such similar hogwash.
If Carlson was a radio host in the middle of some lonely nowhere railing against vaccine efficacy, it still wouldn’t be OK.
But millions of people watch Carlson. They listen to what he has to say. For whatever reason, many of them believe him.
Maybe it’s time they stopped.