Players: Greta Van Susteren a former lawyer, host of On The Record w/Greta Van Susteren and reporter of choice for Palin; Tucker Carlson, editor-in-chief and co-founder of the Daily Caller and conservative colleague of Van Susteren's on the Fox News Channel.
The Opening Serve: Carlson's Daily Caller news site ran a story headlined "Mike Tyson: Sarah Palin met the wombshifter" on Friday which included a barrage of lewd, NSFW (well, depending where you work) Tyson comments on the affair between a young Palin and future NBA player Glen Rice alleged in Joe McGinniss's new book The Rogue. Van Susteren took to her blog on Sunday to voice her displeasure: "I really don’t understand my friend Tucker Carlson," Van Susteren wrote. "He owns the website The Daily Caller and it currently has on its front page the most vile story — referring to a sex act with Governor Sarah Palin as a 'womb shifter'...Do you know what that means? Figure it out [.] It is really vile. It is not just smut…this is violence against women.." Van Susteren continued, "Tucker has daughters and a wife and I would think he in particular would not want to be a purveyer [sic] of smut (and this is actually more, this is violence against women) and allow this to be posted on his website. There is nothing funny about violence against women and repeating what a thug says on a radio show is also not news." Van Susteren said that she e-mailed Carlson about the troublesome story, but it remained on the front page of his site. She added:
In case you have any doubt, there is an easy test as to whether this is deeply wrong. To all you Palin haters out there, ask yourself, would this be ok if this were written about others – eg Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? or Speaker Nancy Pelosi or any other woman leader? or put in the name of your mother….your daughter…your own name…your sister…etc...
By the way….I can’t help but wonder what the women on The Daily Caller think.
I hope Tucker does something about this. For starters, he should pull the posting down and then fire anyone who used this bad judgment and was part of posting it. This is not journalism. It is denigrating women.
The Return Volley: Carlson responded in a Politico article today. "One of the most famous athletes in the world attacks one of the of most famous political figures in the world," he said. "That struck us as news. We didn't endorse what Tyson said, we in fact condemned it. I can’t imagine how any fair reader of our story could conclude that we were anything but disgusted by what Tyson said." Though Van Susteren hasn't responded to Carlson since he spoke to Politico, she foresaw Carlson's news "excuse" in her blog post: "Tucker can’t hide behind 'this is news, it was said by Mike Tyson and we are simply reporting it,' It is not news." She also added, "I keep asking myself, why would Tucker allow this to be posted on his website? I am suspicous [sic] his website is not doing well and this is one quick last breath to create buzz to keep it afloat." The story's last update is time-stamped around 20 minutes after Van Susteren posted on her blog and as of Monday morning the post sports this disclaimer*:
Many of the quotes in this story are offensive, indeed repulsive, and not suitable for younger readers or those who are easily shocked. They are also newsworthy. Had Tyson used this language to attack virtually any other person in public life, he’d be vilified on the front page of the New York Times. But you won’t read these quotes in the Times. We believe they deserve public scrutiny and condemnation.
What They Say They're Fighting About: Sarah Palin and if the article was offensive. Van Susteren lays out some pretty hefty charges about the vulgarity of the article. Carlson and his team seem to agree with Van Susteren with their amended disclaimer--only after Van Susteren's complaint and e-mail.
What They're Really Fighting About: The state of The Daily Caller. Van Susteren sees this as "quick last breath to create buzz to keep it [The Daily Caller] afloat." As appalled as Van Susteren is with Tyson's comments, she seems more disturbed by her "friend's" decision to post the story. Carlson claims that the lewd comments, in all their vulgarity, are newsworthy.
Who's Winning Now: Van Susteren, but possibly both. Van Susteren has strong points--strong enough to make the editors at the Daily Caller add a disclaimer to the story*. But Van Susteren's strong words weren't enough to get the story pulled from the site. In fact, the Tyson story is still one of the most popular stories on the site, garnering a number of social media recommendations and their ensuing page views. Whether those views are viewers there to gawk at Tyson's comments or admonish the website for its judgment, it's the numbers that matter to Carlson--more so if his website is sinking as fast as Van Susteren asserts.
*Update: A Representative of The Daily Caller presented visual evidence that its editor’s note was published on Saturday morning, not Sunday like the time-stamp and Van Susteren’s response indicates.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.