Media Matters has now released clips and transcripts of Tucker Carlson making racist remarks on a shock-jock radio show, a day after exposing Carlson's misogynistic and pro-pedophilia remarks on the same show. But according to conservatives, everything Carlson said should be ignored by the public -- not because the clips and quotes are fake (they aren't), and not because they're out of context (they aren't), but because they were discovered using (gasp!) research.
Here's Mike LaChance at William Jacobson's blog, Legal Insurrection:
These audio clips didn’t just fall out of the sky. The people at Media Matters went looking for them. They sat and combed through hours of audio looking for something to use to target Tucker and his Fox News show.
So these clips are fruits from a poison tree! They should be stricken from the record!
National Review's David French elaborates at length on the moral bankruptcy of using research to illuminate the character of public figures:
I don’t like what Tucker said, but here’s what is far, far worse for our nation and our culture than a pundit saying shocking things to a shock jock: the creation and sustainment of an outrage industry that spends millions of dollars (and countless man-hours) in the quest to destroy the lives and careers of the people it dislikes....
Here’s the way it works. If you’re a conservative or a Republican who attains any kind of prominence at all, then the hunt is on.... People will listen to hundreds of hours of radio shows or podcasts. They’ll watch tapes of cable news until their eyes glaze over. They’ll scan through hundreds of thousands of written words — letting the sum total of the person’s worldview and body of work wash over them — looking for that “gotcha” moment, the word or phrase that proves “the bad man really is bad.”
So no matter what Media Matters finds, we should plug our ears and avert our eyes. Some researcher dug it up! No fair!
Besides, if it's cherry-picked, then it can't be illustrative of character. What about all the hours Ted Bundy spent not killing people?
This isn't the only talking point intended to dissuade us from judging Carlson on his own words. Legal Insurrection's LaChance tells us that Carlson only said those horrible things because he wanted to be polite:
Media Matters released a segment of audio from an appearance Tucker made in 2009 on the “Bubba the Love Sponge” radio show in 2009. In the first part, he plays devil’s advocate in a discussion about the arrest of Warren Jeffs. Media Matters is clearly trying to imply that Carlson supports the sexual exploitation of children, which is absurd.
In the next clip, Tucker plays along with the hosts as they riff and joke at the expense of feminists and the implication is that Tucker is a misogynist.
So when Carlson was saying misogynist things, he was just "play[ing] along with the hosts." He was trying to show good manners. He wanted to be agreeable.
Of course, when his hosts expressed the opinion that Warren Jeffs was a sick pedophile, Carlson chose not to be agreeable -- he played "devil's advocate," according to LaChance. But that was probably also Carlson showing his manners. Good conversation sometimes requires a lively exchange of views, doesn't it? I'm certain Emily Post would agree. In any case, we're assured that nothing Carlson said reflected his own beliefs or opinions in any way.
But the key point is that anything archived should be completely out of bounds. It's just not fair to quote what a public figure said in public on a highly rated satellite radio show. If you had to research it, it doesn't count.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog