Home / On Tucker Carlson’s Show, Two Conservatives Laugh At “Liberal” Facts About PBS

On Tucker Carlson’s Show, Two Conservatives Laugh At “Liberal” Facts About PBS

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Tucker Carlson clearly wants to come across as thoughtful and independent as host of the new MSNBC show, The Situation.

But Carlson has a nasty habit. He’s a control freak. When presented with facts that don’t fall into his pre-conceived presentation of the news, he gets nervous and a little defensive, tossing out a quip before moving the show along.

You might recall what happened back on CNN’s Crossfire, when Carlson was confronted by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, who told Carlson and co-host Paul Begala that they should “Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America” with their pointless, partisan debates. “(Y)you’re not too rough on them. You’re part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks. …What you do is partisan hackery.”

Carlson unable to handle Stewart not following a script (comedian = funny), made a couple of unfunny quips — “What’s it like to have dinner with you? It must be excruciating.” — and then sent the show to commercial.


And that brings us to Tuesday’s edition of The Situation. The topic was PBS. Carlson discussed it with liberal Rachel Maddow and conservative Charlie Gasparino. What was supposed to be a light discussion — as close as Carlson and Gasparino can come to a stand-up routine — became contentious in a hurry, after Maddow made the mistake of injecting a “fact.”

First, the “comedy routine” of Carlson and Gasparino:

CARLSON: Nickelodeon and PBS want to tell your kids what to eat. Both networks are kicking off campaigns to teach children about healthy foods and exercise. Meanwhile, the Republican plan to slash the budget for the Corporation For Public Broadcasting by 25 percent brought about this dog-and-pony show in Washington.


REP. ED MARKEY (D-MA): Keep your hands off of PBS.


CARLSON: Senator Hillary Clinton and Congressman Ed Markey, alongside some of the characters who will be teaching health tips at a news conference supporting PBS today.

GASPARINO: It takes a village.

CARLSON: I love this.

GASPARINO: It takes a village.

CARLSON: So, PBS is trying to convince people they’re not liberal. So, they’re telling your kids to eat only, I don’t know, organic, free-range, cruelty-free vegan products raised in Seattle?

MADDOW: Oh, come on.

CARLSON: I’m serious.

MADDOW: Come on.

GASPARINO: This is why liberals are so boring.

MADDOW: Are you going to blame Nickelodeon for this, too, that they’re trying to convince people they’re liberal? I mean, children’s TV has always had do-gooder stuff in it.

CARLSON: But it’s a stereotype of — of lifestyle liberalism. Don’t eat this. Do eat that. Stop propagandizing my kids. They’ll eat what I ask them to eat or tell them to eat.

MADDOW: What does this have to do with liberals? Children’s TV always had do-gooder stuff. You grew up in California.

GASPARINO: Why is this do-gooder?

MADDOW: You probably learned Spanish from “Villa Alegre.”


MADDOW: You did.

CARLSON: And I resented every moment of it.

GASPARINO: Why is this do-gooder stuff? I mean, you know…

MADDOW: Go to the dentist, floss your teeth.

GASPARINO: No. They’re asking — they’re asking people to — you know, they’re trying to teach — indoctrinate people into a certain lifestyle.

MADDOW: Indoctrinate kids into going outside and playing and flossing their teeth.

GASPARINO: They have parents for that. They have parents for that.

MADDOW: That’s fine. But, come on. You guys are going to rail and make this some sort of liberal problem.


GASPARINO: Hillary saving the world.

MADDOW: Oh, come on. This is ridiculous. You guys are totally off base.


It’s important that Carlson used the word “propagandazing” and Gasparino used the word “indoctrinate.” Even in a light-hearted conversation, it’s important to use conservative buzz words. You would never hear conservatives use such language in describing their fellow conservatives. In other words, if Cookie Monster becomes a Broccoli Monster, that’s liberal indoctrination. If a program to help teen-age drug abusers, funded by the Bush administration under the Faith-Based and Community Initiative insists that attendees accept Jesus Christ as their savior, regardless of their religious heritage, that’s “helping America’s youth.”


Now, back to The Situation:

Carlson and Gasparino were trying to keep the conversation light-hearted — Carlson had related an unfunny anecdote about how he feared eating white bread — but then Maddow did the unthinkable, and injected a fact into the conversation.

MADDOW: If you’re worried about what is on TV, the chair of the Corporation For Public Broadcasting hired a guy from the American Conservative Union to monitor the political bias in one PBS show.

CARLSON: Can you imagine? A conservative in public broadcasting?

CARLSON: That’s just wrong.

MADDOW: But, but that’s who they hired to monitor the political objectivity of the show. That’s more offensive than don’t eat white bread. Come on.

CARLSON: Well, that show needed it.


CARLSON: Well, coming up …


Carlson and Gasparino had kept their “comedy routine” going for a couple of minutes, but when Maddow injected a fact into the conversation, Carlson shot to a commercial in five seconds. The obvious lesson: Don’t interject facts into a “conservative media” show.


Why the hub-bub over PBS?

The “news” — the video clip that featured Rep. Markey, Sen. Clinton and Clifford the Big Red Dog — was not about PBS characters teaching kids to eat healthy. It was actually news that 16 Democratic senators called on President Bush to remove Kenneth Tomlinson as head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting because of their concerns that he is injecting partisan politics into public radio and television. Separately, Democratic lawmakers joined other supporters of public broadcasting, including children and characters from PBS children’s programs, to protest House Republicans’ proposed cuts in financing for the corporation.

The White House said Bush supports Tomlinson.

The “guy from the American Conservative Union” Maddow referred to was Fred Mann, who some allege was improperly hired by Tomlinson to review the political leanings of Bill Moyers’ Now, which conservatives allege is a liberal show.

Mann, who was paid $14,170 for his work by the taxpayer-financed corporation, rated the guests on the show by such labels as “anti-Bush” or “anti-DeLay,” a reference to Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader. He classified Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska as a “liberal,” even though Mr. Hagel is well-known as a mainstream conservative Republican.

But Tomlinson has always had a funny way of classifying liberals and conservatives.

Tomlinson created two ombudsman positions in April, one which to be filled by a conservative, and the other by a liberal. He appointed former former Reader’s Digest executive editor William Schulz as the “conservative,” and NBC political correspondent Ken Bode as the “liberal,” even though Bode is an adjunct fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute who last year endorsed the Republican candidate in Indiana’s gubernatorial race

It’s that sort of bias classification that is leading conservatives — including ones who admit they don’t regularly watch PBS or listen to NPR — to call on cuts in federal funding for public broadcasting. The House Appropriations Committee less than two weeks ago proposed a 45 percent cut in federal funds to public broadcasters — and the full House of Representatives could vote on the spending bill as early as today.

The House committee has proposed reducing public broadcasting funds from $400 million to $300 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Public broadcasters say additional cuts of more than $130 million from other parts of the proposed federal budget — including elimination of the $23.4 million Ready to Learn program that helps fund such children’s programming as “Sesame Street” and “Between the Lions” — mean their stations could face a 45 percent reduction in federal funding next year.


What do the conservatives’ fear? PBS and NPR have each introduced several “conservative” news shows, including one hosted by Carlson, over the past couple of years. Now has been canceled.

I can only imagine what the “conservative media” thinks when it talks about the shows a generation grew up with, including PBS’ signature show, Sesame Street.

If Carlson and Gasparino can poke fun, then I suppose I can to. How would a famed conservative discuss Sesame Street in order to convince audience that it suffered from “liberal bias” and a need to “indoctrinate.”

FAKE RUSH LIMBAUGH: My friends, I have just received a research report from someone called “Krove,” that I believe illustrates the dire situation at PBS. It mentions various characters from the lib show, Sesame Street.

I’m sitting here thinking, folks, that this is not the same show as the one so many of you watched years ago. I have not seen the show myself — I was graduating high school in Missouri when the show debuted — but I have great confidence in the fact sheet from my good friend, Krove.

This is information that the libs won’t tell you, but here at the EIB, we stand for truth. Thus, let me present you with the facts of what your children see when they watch Sesame Street.

Bert and Ernie: Gay.

Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus: Gay

Telly Monster: Communist. How do we know? Krove reports that Telly told Kofi Annan — yes, that Kofi Annan — that the children should dance the “United Nations way, all together.” This is the sort of indoctrination that happens each day on Sesame Street.

But it’s not just the muppets who are a problem. No, my friends, there are human characters who are designed to indoctrinate your children into using lib-speak.

For example, there’s Maria, a femi-Nazi. Krove reports that we don’t see her husband, Luis, much at all anymore. Instead, Krove says, Maria, a typical lib know-it-all, indoctrinates the children and muppets to learn their ABCs and numbers. And I have to tell you, I think the show’s writers — and this show is, of course, produced in the lib capital, New York City — I have to tell you that it would appear that the show’s writers have modeled Maria after Hillary. …


So maybe that takes “conservative media’s” take on PBS to the absurd. But the level of disinformation provided by Tomlinson and others — the logic behind the proposed funding cuts — is absurd, too.


This article first appeared on Journalists Against Bush’s B.S. (JABBS)

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About David R. Mark

  • One of the better ‘frisks’ on punditry that I’ve read in a long while.

    I watched Carlson the other day, it was painful, I don’t really care for the guy, but wanted to see what his new show was like.

    I was amazed at how exactly the ‘same’ it was as what John Stewart called him a name for. It’s like he just changed networks but is still the same garbage-output that is harming America (like John says). Nothing’s really changed beneath that bowtie, it’s still all garbage.

    I haven’t seen you post here before at BC. I like your style of writing as well as your perspective.

  • This is exactly why all federal funding should be removed from PBS. If you take away the federal funding then you can’t have the government screwing with the programming. Right now federal funding is only a tiny fraction of the total revenues of PBS. They could function fine without it. Just end the farce and set PBS free.


  • This is the MSNBC show, Dave, not the PBS show.

  • Steve — thanks for the compliment. I joined Blogcritics about two weeks ago, and have made just a few posts.

  • Nice job with this piece, David.

    MSNBC is the only cable net that I receive. I find it disturbing that its political news programming is dominated by conservative hosts and panels.

    I actually find Carlson to be mild mannered and generally harmless in the sharky (no offense intended, Shark) world of cable punditry. But it pisses me off that two hours of evening coverage are dominated by Carlson and Scarborough.

    Even Hardball has a penchant for conservative-tilted panels, though this phenomenon hasn’t shown its head as much since the election.

    Why not give a bright, opinionated, TV savvy guy like Eric Alterman his own show? Or at least match him with Scarborough, as has been argued in his (Alterman’s) column…

  • >>This is the MSNBC show, Dave, not the PBS show.< < Yes, I know. But the argument they had shows how stupid having PBS as a government funded organization is. It would never generate any kind of controversy if it were private. >>MSNBC is the only cable net that I receive. I find it disturbing that its political news programming is dominated by conservative hosts and panels. << Are you watching MSNBC while suffering from the paranoid aftereffects of too much weed? MSNBC is relentlessly, laughably left wing. It's so far left that most people can't watch it without bursting out laughing. It gives CBS's late night news shows a run for their money on loony leftist imbalance. They added Tucker Carlson specifically because they were aware of how alienated people were by their one-sided presentation. Dave

  • This has been my complaint for some time — and I’ve written about it quite a bit on JABBS.

    MSNBC decided to become “Fox Lite” at some point. Phil Donahue got ratings, but was dumped in favor of lower-rated Scarborough. Hardball has taken a noticeable shift to the right. Now Carlson has been added to the lineup.

    So, in truth, MSNBC has two hours of conservatives, one hour of Hardball — which I would argue leans right, not left, as conservatives attest — and Keith Olbermann’s left-leaning show.

    Why not give a show to Eric Alterman? It doesn’t fit in with the philosophy of NBC and its parent, GE. And it doesn’t fit in with the gimmick that MSNBC can appeal to Fox News viewers, while still holding onto mainstream viewers who tune in to watch “NBC News.”

  • Wait a minute? Doesn’t Tucker have a show on PBS as well? Oh and by the way, did you know that Tucker Carlson is a favorite among Log Cabin Republicans? Tucker Carlson – an icon in the gay community. That’s as bad as Jerry Falwell being an icon at Planned Parenthood. Oh, but back to the original post…

    I’m with Dave. PBS funding from the government isn’t as great as it used to be. I think PBS has a place on America’s airwaves and the government funding it receives now should be weaned away over a 4 year period. PBS is comprised of plenty of intelligent, creative people who can come up with ways to generate revenue.

    Insofar as conservative criticism of PBS is concerned especially when making fun of Big Bird and Sesame Street, I think that people should check their facts. In particular I would like to address the comments of two Congresspeople.

    Ernest J. Istook, Jr., Republican Congressperson from District 5-OK:“Big Bird and his friends can fly on their own. This will not jeopardize any program or any station because they have ample resources already on hand to make up that difference.”

    Ginny Brown-Waite, Republican Congressperson from District 5-FL pulled out a poster of Big Bird standing before a pile of cash. “What PBS doesn’t want you to know: Big Bird is a billionaire…”

    With all due respect to these esteemed members of Congress but their statements are not telling the entire truth. I have to ask if they or members of their respective staffs actually read the 2004 Annual Report of Sesame Workshop. It’s quite inspiring, folks. Our government is one of many governmental contributors to Sesame Street. It’s time we started breaking out the sound bytes and doing research. That’s my mission for this remaining Congress. Before I am done I will cite a quote from every member of Congress and let’s see where they stack up. Maybe then the voters back in their districts will wise up and start doing their own research to see if they are truly being represented.

  • Tucker does have a show on PBS — part of the current CPB’s efforts to bring on more conservatives.

    There’s nothing wrong with having liberal and conservative on PBS and NPR — and in fact, that’s been the case for years.

    What’s silly is when Tomlinson essentially wants to rid PBS and NPR of any liberal presence. The “unbiased review” from Fred Mann highlights this.

  • David: “MSNBC decided to become “Fox Lite” at some point. Phil Donahue got ratings”

    Donohue was consistently the lowest rated cable show in his time slot. He was losing to reruns of “Eight is Enough” on TVLand. His actual Nielsen number was lower than the statistical error figure in the Nielsen ratings.

    >>So, in truth, MSNBC has two hours of conservatives, one hour of Hardball — which I would argue leans right, not left, as conservatives attest — and Keith Olbermann’s left-leaning show. << I guess I stopped watching MSNBC before its shift to the right. The only show I ever found there worth watching was Matthews and he became more and more irritating the more you watched him. Silas: "Wait a minute? Doesn't Tucker have a show on PBS as well? Oh and by the way, did you know that Tucker Carlson is a favorite among Log Cabin Republicans? Tucker Carlson - an icon in the gay community. " If nothing else Tucker is one damned good looking guy. Nice suits too. "Insofar as conservative criticism of PBS is concerned especially when making fun of Big Bird and Sesame Street, I think that people should check their facts." From the link you gave I note that Sesame Workshop only gets 9% of its funding from the government. That's similar to the overall percentage PBS gets. Sesame gets 68% of their revenue from merchandising, and that's some huge business for them. As I understand it Sesame kicks little or none of their revenue from merchandising to PBS which got them started. In fact, PBS currently pays them to run their programming. Something's screwed up there. Dave

  • I think you’re wrong on the Donahue ratings. I know I’ve read this somewhere. I’ll do some digging and post when I find it.

  • Nice to see your posts here, David!

    (But I think maybe your italics got a bit over the top there…)

    And regardless of where THIS show was aired, Dave Nalle is right – PBS should use viewer donations and endowment funds, not taxpayer dollars. They’re not needed any more.

    (The tax funds, not PBS, that is)

  • The Children’s Television Workshop makes big bucks on licensing Big Bird and the others–but it doesn’t give any of the money to the government. Those shows could easily be, and are, self-supporting.

  • It’s also been aptly demonstratd that there’s an enormous market for quality childrens programming. Look at Noggin and Nickelodeon and the many other kid-oriented cable channels which offer stuff which is at least somewhat educational and often quite PBS like.

    If PBS fans are concerned about government interference in PBS then they are the ones who should be clammoring to take the system private. That’s the only way to preserve it the way they like it.


  • Look at Noggin and Nickelodeon and the many other kid-oriented cable channels which offer stuff which is at least somewhat educational and often quite PBS like.

    We enjoy Noggin, it’s quite good. But those are cable channels, not everybody can afford cable, for some free tv is the only tv, that’s what it’s about for me.

    And technically, Noggin and Nickelodeon are owned and operated by MTV. When you look at the ‘many other’ kid-oriented channels, what you’re really looking at, is just two corporations, Disney or Viacom.

  • PBS has a cable network now, and they plan to add another as well. There’s also FoxKids – which is weak, but in there. And as for the number of channel-owning companies, that’s less relevant than the number of production companies making kids fare which they’re picking up, and there are a zillion of those.


  • David,

    The Blogcritics’ editors liked this one and therefore it’s a pick of the week. Congratulations and thank you. Put the news up proudly on your site. We’ve provided a handy button to do just that at the link below.

    Here’s a link to the rest of this week’s picks and the reasons why.