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The ghost of comments past

Media | Critics go after Tucker Carlson and threaten to take down free speech in the process
by Mary Jackson
Posted 3/15/19, 06:43 pm

Media Matters for America incited public backlash this week when it published a series of vulgar comments that Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson made as a guest years ago on a shock-jock radio program.

In an admittedly organized effort beginning Sunday against Fox News and its popular political commentator, the liberal media advocacy group published two batches of audio clips that contain remarks Carlson made as a regular caller to The Bubba the Love Sponge Show in Tampa, Fla., between 2006 and 2011, before he worked for Fox News. In the tapes, Carlson, who professed to be a Christian in a 2013 interview with WORLD’s Marvin Olasky, uses sexist and racial slurs, mocks Iraqis and Muslims, and defends convicted child sex abuser Warren Jeffs.

Carlson responded on Twitter that he was caught “saying something naughty,” but he stopped short of an apology. “Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch,” Carlson tweeted. “Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”

He has since accused Media Matters and other liberal groups of trying to silence both Fox News and his show but promised, “We will never bow to the mob.”

In November 2018, a literal mob of about 20 people protested outside Carlson’s home in Washington, D.C., chanting “Tucker Carlson, we will fight. We know where you sleep at night” and spray-painting an anarchy symbol on his driveway. The incident, which Carlson called chilling and upsetting, further evidenced an ongoing campaign by his opponents not just to counter Carlson’s ideas, but also to keep him from expressing them at all.

Media Matters has hinted it will publish more damaging audio of Carlson. The group pushed companies to sever ties with Fox News and admitted it timed the release of the clips with the network’s Wednesday meeting with advertisers, even organizing a small protest outside Fox News headquarters. So far, the bedding company Sheex and pharmaceutical maker Astra Zeneca have pulled ads from the program, according to The Washington Post. Fox News also has lost some advertisers recently because of critical statements host Jeanine Pirro made about U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and her adherence to Muslim teachings. Fox News executives publicly rebuked Pirro, but have stood by Carlson.

“My intention ultimately is to enforce a change of behavior, not to eradicate Fox,” Media Matters President Angelo Carusone said. But he has learned that the outrage machine can turn in both directions: This week, The Daily Caller dug up old blog posts in which Carusone made degrading references to Jews, transgender people, and Bangladeshis. Rather than debating the merits of each other’s ideas, the two sides in the Carlson-Carusone showdown have fixated on the question, “Who is a bigger sinner?” The answer, of course, is neither—or both, as the Bible says, “There is none who does good, not even one” (Psalm 53:3).

National Review’s David French wrote this week that more than Carlson’s and Carusone’s reputations are at stake in the debate. “Our nation cannot maintain its culture of free speech if we continue to reward those who seek to destroy careers rather than rebut ideas,” he wrote, emphasizing that the outrage machine has much more tolerance for liberal pundits than conservative ones. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker agreed, writing that though she disagreed with Carlson’s comments, silencing him was not the solution: “When it comes to free thought and expression, the remedies are always worse than the original offense.”

Associated Press/Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision (file) Associated Press/Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision (file) Lori Loughlin

Crime and punishment

The Hallmark Channel cut ties Thursday with actress Lori Loughlin, who is implicated in a multimillion-dollar college admissions cheating scandal. Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are among more than 30 parents accused of paying bribes to get their children into elite universities such as Yale and Stanford.

Loughlin has starred in a number of Christmas movies and the popular series When Calls the Heart on the Hallmark Channel, known for feel-good, family-friendly shows. But after her she was charged Wednesday for paying her 19-year-old daughter’s way in to the University of Southern California, the channel said it will not work with her anymore. There are also rumors that Netflix plans to drop Loughlin from Fuller House, in which she periodically guest stars to reprise her role as Aunt Becky—wife of John Stamos’ character, Jesse Katsopolis—from the sitcom Full House, which aired on ABC from 1987 to 1995. —Lynde Langdon

Associated Press/Photos by David Banks (file) Associated Press/Photos by David Banks (file) Chance the Rapper (right) and Kirsten Corley at a Chicago Bulls basketball game in November

Down the aisle

Hip-hop star Chance the Rapper, 25, celebrated his marriage to longtime girlfriend Kirsten Corley last weekend. Chance, whose real name is Chancelor Jonathan Bennett, tweeted that he met Corley when he was 9 years old. They have a 3-year-old daughter, Kensli, and a baby due in September.

The couple had a wedding and reception last weekend but have been legally married since Dec. 27, The Chicago Tribune reported. The Grammy-winning artist has been more outspoken about his faith in recent months, posting videos of himself reading Bible passages on Instagram. Last May, he credited Corley with helping him “find God.” —M.J.

Mary Jackson

Mary is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute mid-career course and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and four children. Follow Mary on Twitter @mbjackson77

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  • Laneygirl's picture
    Posted: Sat, 03/16/2019 03:39 pm

    I Hope Hope Hope that Mr. and Mrs. Chance-the-Rapper are genuine believers who will take opportunities to model their change of heart before a watchful public. Many of us never get that chance. Baby 2 apparently being conceived post-marriage makes a great statement! 

    25 years ago our boys snagged Evander Holyfield's Scripture-quoting autograph at the local GA bowling alley. In the ensuing years, Holyfield proceded to father multiple children by various women not his wife. That autograph isn't worth much.

  • Narissara
    Posted: Mon, 03/18/2019 10:47 am

    Whatever happened to, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”? (Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote that in her biography of Voltaire — how ironic).  

    Not only free speech, but freedom of the press is at stake.  News outlets that give in to social media bullies aren’t reporting the news, they’re propaganda machines.  TASS anyone?  

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Fri, 03/22/2019 01:28 am

    The bar is currently very low for conservatives to cause outrage.  Say anything unseemly on Bubba the Love Sponge and your career is over.  And yet find any rocker or celebrity who makes a living spewing hate or portraying untold violence and it is perfectly fine, because eventually contrition will come in the form of a self-promoting charity love fest.