Tucker Carlson's ultimate humiliation: Corruption, "journalism" & a flagrant conflict of interest

Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller speaks truth to power -- up to the point that it affects Tucker's bottom line

Published March 18, 2015 5:45PM (EDT)

Tucker Carlson                 (Fox News)
Tucker Carlson (Fox News)

The online world was very lightly jostled late yesterday when longtime internet user Mickey Kaus announced that he had abruptly quit Tucker Carlson’s awful news website, The Daily Caller. Kaus made his career out of being a “liberal” who despises everything about liberals, but of late he’s been singularly focused on his true passion: hating on immigrants and opposing “amnesty.” Up until yesterday, Tucker Carlson happily allowed Kaus to bang his drum against amnesty in the way he saw fit.

But, according to Politico, Kaus tendered his resignation yesterday after unwittingly violating one of The Daily Caller’s ironclad rules for proper journalism: don’t ever criticize people who pay Tucker Carlson.

The blogger Mickey Kaus has quit his job at The Daily Caller after the conservative site's editor-in-chief, Tucker Carlson, pulled a critical column about Fox News from the site, Kaus told the On Media blog on Tuesday.

"It's pretty simple," Kaus said in an interview, "I wrote a piece attacking Fox for not being the opposition on immigration and amnesty -- for filling up the airwaves with reports on ISIS and terrorism, and not fulfilling their responsibility of being the opposition on amnesty and immigration.... I posted it at 6:30 in the morning. When I got up, Tucker had taken it down. He said, 'We can't trash Fox on the site. I work there.'"

Carlson, who co-founded The Daily Caller in 2010, is a conservative contributor to Fox News and the host of its weekend edition of "Fox & Friends."

Kaus says when he told Carlson he needed to be able to write about Fox, Carlson told him it was a hard-and-fast rule, and non-negotiable.

Everything about this is hilarious. Let’s start with the premise of Kaus’ piece: that Fox News – Fox News – has been insufficiently opposed to immigration reform. I suppose if you’re coming from the perspective of Mickey Kaus, who is so far to the right on immigration that he earnestly called Eric Cantor “Mr. Amnesty,” then perhaps that’s a plausible argument. For a normal person, Fox News is a barking mad locus of anti-“amnesty,” anti-immigrant nonsense. But Mickey Kaus has his principles, and if The Daily Caller won’t let him spout nativist gibberish on his own terms, then he’ll take his talents elsewhere.

And then there’s Tucker Carlson. This story gets right to the heart of what makes The Daily Caller’s editor-in-chief the insufferable prat that he is. Say what you will about Kaus, but at least he stands for something. Carlson, on the other hand, will make a big show of standing on principle, and then completely abandon those principles once he’s in a position to profit from it. Back when The Daily Caller first launched back in 2010, Carlson gave an interview to Howard Kurtz, then of the Washington Post, in which he proclaimed that his new website would distinguish itself from the corrupt brand journalism that pays homage to the powerful:

But Carlson insists this won't be a right-wing site: "I don't feel guilty about or ashamed in any way of saying we'll cover the people in power," he says, dismissing the capital's Republicans as "totally powerless."

"Our goal is not to get Republicans elected. Our goal is to explain what your government is doing. We're not going to suck up to people in power, the way so many have. There's been an enormous amount of throne-sniffing," he says, a sly grin beneath the mop of brown hair. "It's disgusting."

So principled! Of course, when the most powerful man in cable news dangled a contract in front of Carlson to be the weekend host of his network’s abysmal morning program, this venal coward was quite content to suck up and sniff that particular throne. Enthusiastic, even! The Daily Caller speaks truth to power, so long as it doesn’t affect Tucker’s bottom line. The silver lining for Carlson is that this story really can’t make him or his website look any worse – whatever journalistic credibility he aspired to has long since been flushed away by a series of embarrassing face plants.

Speaking of Roger Ailes, it will be interesting to see how Fox News handles this story. Howard Kurtz, as you’re probably aware, is now the media reporter for Fox News and host of “MediaBuzz,” the network’s weekly media criticism show. If Kurtz were working anywhere else, he’d almost certainly be covering this story. But Fox News is famously averse to acknowledging any sort of criticism or controversy about the network and enforces strict message discipline on its airwaves. So what will happen? Will Kurtz do the job that he’s technically supposed to do, or will Ailes quash the story from on high?

Whatever happens, don’t expect to read about it in The Daily Caller.

By Simon Maloy

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