Tucker Carlson's sugar daddy: How another hilarious rich person humiliated himself

Foster Friess, funder of Tucker Carlson and Rick Santorum, may be rich -- but he doesn't understand how media works

Published March 31, 2015 2:59PM (EDT)

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

Welcome to another edition of Meet the Hilarious Rich People Who Fund American Politics!

In our last episode we noted how billionaire casino monster Sheldon Adelson was threatening to tank Jeb Bush's White House bid if he continued talking to longtime Bush family friend and perhaps the most seasoned Republican government official of the last 50 years, James Baker. (James Baker is in favor of negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, meaning he wants Israel to be destroyed.)

This latest episode concerns Foster Friess, the hundred-millionaire retired fund manager who throws money at weird projects like Rick Santorum presidential bids and trashy websites run by Tucker Carlson. In both cases Friess' money is responsible for allowing these projects to exist long past their natural expiration dates.

Rick Santorum was happy to accept Friess' checks in 2012, and the partnership appears ready to renew itself for a second season this cycle. Being the beneficiary of a one-man super PAC machine is convenient, but it also means that you don't have any control over what your "sugar daddy" says or does on his own time. Friess has this problem where he says a bunch of inflammatory nonsense and gets Santorum into all sorts of trouble. It's similar to the dynamic in which Rick Santorum himself says a bunch of inflammatory nonsense and gets Rick Santorum into all sorts of trouble.

During the 2012 cycle, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell asked Friess about some of Santorum's previous statements about birth control. (He's not a huge birth control fan.) Friess had some thoughts about this!

“Here we have millions of our fellow Americans unemployed. We have jihadist camps being set up in Latin America, which Rick has been warning about, and people seem to be so preoccupied with sex. I think it says something about our culture," he said. "We maybe need a massive therapy session so we can concentrate on what the real issues are.”

He went on: “On this contraceptive thing, my Gosh it’s such [sic] inexpensive,” he added. “You know, back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”

This week Friess is defending his other project, the Daily Caller, from the scorn of the shallow media. Last Monday the beautifully named Buckley Carlson, brother to Tucker and occasional contributor to the Daily Caller, had a reply-all problem. Tucker had been responding to a (condescending in its own right) request for a correction from Bill de Blasio spokesperson Amy Spitalnick. He bcc'd his brother Buckley on it, for some reason. That led Buckley to reply-all with this unfortunate message:

Great response. Whiny little self-righteous bitch. “Appalling?” And with such an ironic name, too… Spitalnick? Ironic because you just know she has extreme dick-fright; no chance has this girl ever had a pearl necklace. Spoogeneck? I don’t think so. More like LabiaFace.

So everyone vomited and all the media columnists wrote this up. The Washington Post's media blogger, Erik Wemple, sent some questions over to the Daily Caller's money-man, Foster Friess. Friess offered him an interesting response. It's funny, because it bears all the eccentric old-man angry email traits, such as modified ellipses containing considerably more than three periods, and sometimes strings of commas where ellipses should be, before mysteriously transitioning into standard grammatical structure. The response, much like Friess' infamous comments on contraception, also wonders why Erik Wemple is talking about such things when there are concurrent problems in other parts of the world. (Erik Wemple is a media writer, this is what he does.)

“Erik [Wemple Blog], I am embarrassed for you…..why would you take my time and for that matter…………Your time to concern yourself with what some private person says about someone he does not admire when Kurds,,,,,America’s boots on the ground,,,,, are being killed as you read this return email,” wrote Friess.

Then we get into the standard portion, in which Friess tells Wemple to "scrub your story" and presumably write about the Kurds (another of Friess's projects, somehow?) instead:

To expose a private email to the public to gain rankings by highlighting nastiness does not heal our divided world or bring credit to you as a person. Be an encourager and respecter of women. By exposing Buckley Carlson’s nasty email while putting him in a bad light also denigrates Amy Spitalnick.

Scrub your story and lets figure out a way we could reconcile them. There is way too much nastiness and negativity in the world without sensationalizing it. You are too much of a nice guy to indulge in Jerry Springer issues. God bless, Foster***

Wemple notes that neither Carlson has yet to apologize to Spitalnick, which would be the obvious first step in any sort of reconciliation process.

If Rick Santorum runs for president again with Foster Friess' money, he will have to understand, again, that Foster Friess takes up pretty much every media request sent his way and there's nothing you can do to stop him from saying something silly. If he wants to tell "gals" that keeping their legs closed is the best form of contraception, he's gonna say it. If he wants to tell a reporter to kill their story as a response to some questions, that's what he's going to do.

We write about Adelson and Friess because they were the two most prominent "sugar daddies" propping up crappy campaigns in the 2012 primaries. One of the few enjoyable ("enjoyable") things we can look forward to in the next few months is the emergence of new weird rich people trying to get in the game by propping up candidates who cannot exert any control over them. Citizens United was absolutely terrible for the country, but at least the super PAC era provides a colorful cast of characters to lampoon.

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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