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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ED MARKEY (D-MA): Keep your hands off of PBS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.”
CARLSON: I did.
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)Powered by Sidelines