The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Irony of Tucker Carlson, Sarah Palin, Mike Tyson, Greta Van Susteren and … Me

Posted on | September 20, 2011 | 70 Comments

Scene from “Daily Caller Downfall”

“In Ohio, which McGovern eventually lost by a slim 19,000 vote margin, his handlers figure perhaps 10,000 of those were directly attributable to his public association with Warren Beatty, who once told a reporter somewhere that he favored legalizing grass. This was picked up by that worthless a–hole Sen. Henry Jackson (D-Wash.) and turned into a major issue.
“So it fairly boggles the mind to think what Humphrey’s people might do with a photo of McGovern shaking hands with a person who once ran for Sheriff of Aspen on the Freak Power ticket, with a platform embracing the use and frequent enjoyment of Mescaline by the Sheriff and all his Deputies at any hour of the day or night that seemed Right.”

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

Guilt-by-association smears are an ever-present danger in political life, and my carefully cultivated bad reputation probably keeps me from scoring some “exclusives” I might otherwise get. But the upside is that there is no one trying to tempt me through the revolving door that separates journalism from politics.

No Republican, not even Herman Cain, could get away with hiring me as a “media consultant” or “communications strategist” or some other type of glorified P.R. gig, so there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that I’ll ever become Jay Carney, and thank God for that.

Nor is it likely that I’ll be invited onto one of Sean Hannity’s “Great American” panels, because the executives at Fox News understand that their on-air choices are seen as officially symbolic of Conservatism, Inc. Every sin committed by Roger Ailes is somehow blamed on the GOP, and so even if I were as telegenic as Megyn Kelly, they’d never invite me to do the pundit gig on Fox. I’d stand a better chance of becoming a regular contributor on Rachel Maddow’s show.

It is therefore highly ironic — indeed, morbidly amusing — to watch Tucker Carlson getting raked over the coals by Greta Van Susteren:

What Tucker can’t seem to bring himself to admit is that about 10 minutes worth of careful editing would have put Jeff Poor’s article into the safety zone where not even the most zealous Palinista, nor even Sarah Palin herself, would have had any cause to complain:

Mike Tyson Targets Sarah Palin
in Obscene Sexual, Racial Rant

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson engaged in a lurid and lengthy sexual rant about Sarah Palin during an interview broadcast on a Las Vegas radio station.
Referring to unsubstantiated claims in a new book that the former Alaska governor once dated former professional basketball player Glenn Rice, Tyson fantasized at length about Palin having sex with another former NBA player, Dennis Rodman. Both Rice and Rodman are black, and Tyson made graphic reference to racial stereotypes as he asked KWWV-AM hosts Paul Howard, Mitch Moss and Seat Williams to “imagine Palin with a big old black stallion.”
Tyson, who was convicted in 1992 of raping a teenage beauty pageant contestant, asserted that Palin “needed” to have sex with a black man, an experience he said “every white girl” desires in order to “get that out of their system.”
“Every uppity white middle class [woman says] . . . ‘Gotta get me a black man before I go prosper in this white world,'” Tyson said during the interview, provoking hysterical laughter from the hosts of the “Gridlock” program on the ESPN Radio affiliate station.
Saying he had read Joe McGinniss’s new “unauthorized biography” of the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, Tyson said, “Isn’t that beautiful to hear Palin [had sex with] a black man? . . . Her and her sister were into that stuff.” . . .

An article written that way might have included a sentence to the effect, “A spokesman for Governor Palin did not respond to a request for comment on Tyson’s remark.” And that kind of article could have led to a discussion of harm that results from such stereotypical attitudes.

Instead, we have Tucker Carlson trying to defend the legitimacy of a bad editorial judgment. And there are multiple layers of irony in the fact that I’m the guy pointing this out. Chief among the several ironies is this: When I was on the national desk at The Washington Times, I was always the “loose cannon” in the newsroom testing the boundaries of what could be printed in our “family-friendly” newspaper. Go ask Ken Hanner, Victor Morton or Geoff Etnyre how many times as an assistant editor I got chewed out for sending to the copy desk articles that got flagged as including language that senior editors disapproved.

Given that background, I can empathize with the predicament that Jeff Poor and Tucker Carlson have found themselves in, but cannot for the life of me understand Carlson’s defense. He seems to have the idea that Greta Van Susteren (and Tammy Bruce and Jedadiah Bila and everyone else who objected to the Tyson article) somehow expected the Daily Caller to ignore this incident. Carlson is pretending that the only way to report the story was the way that Jeff Poor reported it.

Allegations that the article represents an anti-Palin attitude — or a “boys club” environment — at the Daily Caller could be dismissed if Carlson would admit that the article, as originally published, was gratuitously offensive.

Of course, I have at times been accused of writing gratuitously offensive things on my blog, but that’s just me. This blog is not a publishing company into which people were invited to invest millions of dollars to create the “conservative answer to the Huffington Post,” which was Tucker Carlson’s original selling point for the Daily Caller. When I responded to Carlson’s boastful May 2009 announcement by saying that his proposed project “better not suck,” I scarcely expected that by September 2011, the Daily Caller would be accused by Greta Van Susteren of inciting sexual violence against women. Nor did I expect I’d be laughing myself to tears over Richard McEnroe’s “Downfall” parody:

And if you feel an urge to hit the tip jar — hey, don’t fight the feeling!

UPDATE: Ace of Spades:

The original article is neutrally written. There is not a suggestion of the writer’s belief that Mike Tyson is out-of-bounds, not a word of criticism for the ESPN radio hosts for taking the interview here. . . .
Sometimes it’s hard to read tone, but the sense I got from the original piece was that the best jokes were being highlighted. . . .
Locker-room sex stuff. And just in case it isn’t already risque enough, Tyson starts throwing in some weird racial stuff, too.

Which is, I think, perhaps unfair to Jeff Poor. I know Jeff Poor, who did good work for Newsbusters, and don’t believe that he quoted Tyson’s remarks with an idea of derogating Palin.

What I actually think is that a lot of younger people, accustomed to watching Comedy Central where this kind of “humor” is commonplace, take it for granted. And in the Internet age, where everything is just one Google search away, it might seem that there is no harm in repeating whatever is already “out there.” Tucker Carlson is 10 years younger than me, and Jeff Poor is also young, and this is probably the reason why they reacted to the criticism the way they did.

After Dan Riehl brought attention to the Daily Caller article, my response was horror at what Tyson said:

The blog-war aspect of this incident rather dwindles into insignficance when measured against the apparent willingness of a Las Vegas radio station to allow Mike Tyson to spew such filthy and derogatory racial stereotypes.

And I still wish that was the focus of discussion: Why did these radio sports-talk guys raise this Palin question with Mike Tyson, then laugh at his response as if it were the funniest thing they’d ever heard? You don’t have to be a prude or a women’s studies major to be stunned by what Ace euphemistically calls the “weird racial stuff” in Tyson’s diatribe. A thorough discussion of that, however, would require mining another layer of irony I’d rather not deal with this afternoon, so I’ll content myself to quote my original reaction:

Now that I think of it, have we heard from Jill Filipovic, Jessica Valenti, Melissa McEwan or any of the other feminists? Because if Sarah Palin weren’t a Republican, I think they’d probably be outraged by this.

But I guess Sandra Bernhard answered that question three years ago, huh?

UPDATE II: Professor William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection:

The damage to The Daily Caller is enormous. . . . This is a disaster compounded by the folks at The Daily Caller digging while in a hole, and digging even harder when people called them out on it, and doubling down on the digging as it went viral.

Like Professor Jacobson, Bob Belvedere at The Camp of the Saints sees this incident as highly damaging to the Daily Caller.



70 Responses to “The Irony of Tucker Carlson, Sarah Palin, Mike Tyson, Greta Van Susteren and … Me”

  1. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 4:34 am

    Exactly how big is a “modicum”?

  2. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 4:37 am

    Are we really that diabolical? I certainly hope so.

  3. Adjoran
    September 21st, 2011 @ 5:28 am

    Barrett Brown?

  4. alwaysfiredup
    September 21st, 2011 @ 5:39 am

    “anyone can easily see that the story Carlson published is as to Tyson’s rotten statements”

    That wasn’t the impression I got.  I got the distinct impression of linkwhoring along with some locker-room dudez humor. “Heh, did you hear what Tyson said about Palin? Dayum!!”  I did not sense any condemnation at all.  I cannot imagine that being said about any other female public figure in the world without the terms “disgusting” or “crude” anywhere to be found.

  5. alwaysfiredup
    September 21st, 2011 @ 5:41 am

    seriously: wtf?  Where did you do your sociobiology post-doc?

  6. Adjoran
    September 21st, 2011 @ 5:45 am

    I doubt CJ was ever a conservative.  He gained a huge following for being on top of the islamists and then his single contribution to the Rathergate Affair (the animated .gif which made it easy to understand) cemented his place as a leading blog, with a conservative/libertarian leaning readership. 

    But he seemed to develop some sort of mental problem.  It was more than just narcissism, it is serious and affected his whole attitude.

    Carlson has always been a wannabe conservative commentator and opinion maker, and also to be part of the DC cocktail circuit.  He never quite made it as a leading voice, and he’s gotten a bit old to play the up-and-coming card.

    But he can hardly complain about the gigs he’s landed, even with no experience early on, and continuing, considering his lack of either success or popularity.  And a rich guy wants to sink some money on a website and goes with HIM?  A man with that much extra cash could have afforded someone to do a little research first . . .

  7. John Klepper
    September 21st, 2011 @ 5:52 am

    The fact of the matter is, Bill O’Reilly has to put it out there.  Smut.  Young girls, dancing around, sometimes imbibing alcohol.

    This is all illegal of course, and Mr. Bill DOES NOT ENDORSE IT.

    But, he will show it to you.

    Because you, dear viewer (or reader or whatever) simply must see what those other people are putting out there.  

    Bill O’Reilly has a duty to point out to you what people are doing, as vile as it is, so you know what’s really happening. 

    Mr. Bill O doesn’t want to do this.  He has to. It is Bill’s duty to show you the footage so you can see what the hell is going on in this here culture, don’t you know?

  8. Sarah Palin Suddenly Electable? « Truth Before Dishonor
    September 21st, 2011 @ 4:37 am

    […] tying violent rape and Sarah Palin together in a wholly disgusting display — on the radio. And a supposedly sound Conservative blogsite gets in deep water over its inappropriate manner in publicizing […]

  9. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 10:22 am

    A few months ago, I actually e-mailed Jeff Poor, calling him a *ucking *unt or whatever the latest attack was that he amplified re Palin (a mature response, I know), and that’s the last contact I’ve had with The Daily Caller.  If you want, google “daily caller” and Palin an “jeff poor.”  Add in “bachmann” too.

  10. jwallin
    September 21st, 2011 @ 11:02 am

    Although the article, as written, is in bad taste and shows poor judgment it is the interviewers from Gridlock who should be getting the flack. Yet they’re not. What’s up with that?

    This is a tempest in a teapot. It’s effect on the DC will be minimal as their target readership are not the folks complaining but the youngsters like themselves.

    It’s a juice box kinda world these days, the fogies need to get used to it and quit whining like liberals.

  11. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 11:44 am

    Agreed, Johnson was never a conservative; he was one of a handful of liberals who took the jihadi threat seriously after 9/11. For what my opinion is worth, I think the cognitive dissonance of being on the same side as anti-jihadis such as Pam Geller and Robert Spencer finally got to him, and his brain went *spung*.

  12. McGehee
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

    I think it’s two iotas.

    Oh wait — no, I’m thinking of the Toyota Modicum, which was available as a sedan and a hatchback.

  13. Garym
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

    Not sure, but I may have pulled one out of my nose this morning.

  14. JeffS
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

    I’ll bet on one of the Ivy League schools.  Say, Harvard.

  15. JeffS
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

    I wish to point out that the (unwritten) rules of blog etiquette call for you to respond with a link, like thus:

    dailycaller “jeff poor” palin

    A quick perusal of the results does not support your “SCORES of other non-articles in the DC”.  There are a few, yes.  But not scores, and at least one neutral article.

    I say this as an ardent critic of Tucker Carlson.  But I will only criticize him on the facts, so I ask that you supply them, and not empty rhetoric. 

  16. ThePaganTemple
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

    Anamika? Treacher?

  17. Garym
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

    Palin=website hits. Simple as that.
    As Greta said, Chatsworth Osborn Jr. already had a strike against him with his milfistan tweet. That kind of objectivity towards Palin is always going to get you some extra scrutiny.

  18. ImpressedByTexabillies
    September 21st, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

    Since Tucker’s famous self-proclaimed double team public bathroom homosexual beat down, Tucker thinks of himself as a bad-ass of a Mike Tyson level. In reality I guess he’s just a whiney little pussy just like everybody thought.
    Here read about Tucker Carlson Bad-Ass:

    Instead of Greta baggin on Tucker for being a douche, you have Scarborough mocking little dweeb Tucker.

  19. JeffS
    September 21st, 2011 @ 9:45 pm


  20. kryon77
    September 22nd, 2011 @ 12:28 am

    I think a fair way to conclude this debate – agreeable to all sides – is that I’m right you’re wrong. Gee, hope that didn’t violate one of your rules of etiquette.

    You didn’t Google.  You Binged.  And you didn’t include “Bachmann,” as I suggested.  The fundamental point I made was correct; it was systematic.  It was a regular thing, to simply rebroadcast & amplify, outside any news context, vile comments made re Palin (or Bachmann) by Bill Mahr, Mike Tyson, and some less prominent folks.  It was link-whoring; the same kind of conduct found in, e.g., one the Gawker properties.  The REASON why past instances of this  conduct is important is because it tends to refute RSW’s implication that this is just a single editorial screw-up, so Tucker Carlson (and Jeff Poor) are really alright guys.

    I shouldn’t have said “scores.” It’s around 10.  So you win that debater’s point.