On Wednesday, Media Matters' Simon Maloy noticed another stunning Tucker Carlson contradiction: the Daily Caller founder once adamantly opposed reporting on senators and prostitutes. In recent months, the Daily Caller's major obsession has been on the somewhat discredited story of hookers who claimed -- and maybe retracted -- to have slept with Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
It's not just that Carlson thought reporting on senators who visited hookers was in poor taste, or not in the national interest. It's that he went on multiple over-the-top rants about how reporting on senators visiting hookers was pretty much ruining the country, and that he wished a Democratic senator would get caught with a hooker so he could prove to everyone how committed to this principle he was. As we now know, when Dominican lawyers presented him with that opportunity last fall, he did not take it.
As in last October, when Carlson and the Daily Caller hyped an exclusive 2007 Obama speech it claimed the media and told Fox News' Sean Hannity, "This hasn’t been reported. And I know because I reported it," Sometimes you get the sense that Tucker Carlson is auditioning for The Colbert Report, specifically for the segment "Formidable Opponent," in which Stephen Colbert debates himself.
In 2007, when Louisiana Sen. David Vitter's phone records connected him to Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the D.C. Madam, Carlson was appalled anyone would write about it. Take the July 11, 2007 edition of MSNBC's show Tucker, in which he scolded Michael Rectenwald of Citizens for Legitimate Government, which reported on Vitter and hookers. Carlson's first question was, "How could you justify doing something like this? Why is it your business?" Carlson explained that Rectenwald merely disagreed with Vitter's policy positions, but instead of attacking those, he was attacking his private life. "I don`t know anything about you other than you are holding up this guy`s sex life to public ridicule," Carlson said. "And you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You have no justification." Then both men insisted they would behave the same way if the senator in question were a high-profile Democrat:
CARLSON: If this were Russ Feingold...
RECTENWALD: I don`t care.
CARLSON: I would be up there making the same argument that Russ Feingold`s personal ...
RECTENWALD: So would I.
CARLSON: ...ought to be off limits from creeps and scandal mongers like you...
RECTENWALD: We`re not scandal mongers.
CARLSON: ...who profit from digging into other people`s sex lives. You ought to be ashamed of yourself Mr. Rectenwald.
Carlson didn't let it go! On the July 13, 2007 edition of Tucker, he said the crime was minor:
CARLSON: It`s against the law in the sense that double parking is against the law.
And again, he appealed to a higher power to bring him a Democrat with a hooker problem so he could prove his core principles:
CARLSON: I wish David Vitter were a Democrat. I wish he were a liberal Democrat. I wish he were Russ Feingold, because then I would defend him every bit as zealously as I am defending not what David Vitter did, but his right to be unbothered by the rest of us for something that`s none of our business.
Carlson failed to do what he promised when his wish was granted. On the March 5 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Carlson defended not just pushing the Menendez story, but not being entirely sure it was true. Bill O'Reilly asked him about The Washington Post's report that the hooker in question said she'd been paid to lie about Menendez:
O'REILLY: ...How do you know the woman is telling the truth? I mean I just -- I want to give all Americans the benefit of the doubt and the presumption of innocence.
O'REILLY: And when a journalist parades somebody through, it makes a heinous allegation about a public figure.
O'REILLY: And that person is pretty much protected, they are anonymous. I don't know. It makes me a little queasy, Tucker.
CARLSON: I get it. This is one of the basic conundrums of journalism it's something we deal with every day. People come forward and make allegations. Can you know the metaphysical truths of them?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.