Balance of Power with Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox

Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox
Political Journalists
Monday, March 16, 2009; 12:00 PM

Tucker Carlson. Ana Marie Cox. He's conservative. She's liberal. They both write for The Daily Beast, and she's a national correspondent for Air America Radio. They were online Monday, March 16 to offer their analysis of the first weeks of the Obama presidency and other goings-on in the world of politics.

A transcript follows.


Melbourne, Australia: Why is Obama discriminating against men by setting up a sexist "women only" office in the White House ?

Tucker Carlson: Happy Monday.

I'm amazed/impressed that you noticed the creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Few people in this country seemed to. The idea, as Obama explained last week, is to make sure the federal government does something to help American females, who apparently are deeply in trouble.

Except that they're not deeply in trouble, at least when compared to American men. More men than women are getting laid off in this recession. Unemployed men suffer greater stress-related health trauma than women, which may help account for why they die seven years earlier than women in this country. Girls get higher grades than boys in school at every level. They get into more colleges, too, and since 1982, they've graduated at higher rates. Etc, etc .

And good for them. I love females. I live with four of them, and those are just the humans. (We also have two dogs, a cat and a guinea pig, all girls.) But should taxpayers really be paying for this new office? Of course not. It's political payback to the feminists who helped get Obama elected. Fine.

But here's what really annoys me: The heads of major government agencies are, according to the president, required to attend its meetings. So Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates and Tim Geithner - all busy people whose attention to their real jobs America could use at this point - are going to be forced to sit through these stupid meetings? Depressing. I really hoped Obama would start to jettison the silly interest-group politics that have held his party captive for so long. Guess not.


New York: Why do the Repubs keep putting this Cantor guy up as their spokesperson? They seem to think he's Brad Pitt, or something. Not only does he look like one of the sycophant geeky guys from "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying", but his expertise is as a real estate developer. (??) How about Rush Limbaugh on the evils of drug abuse? Get real, GOP.

Tucker Carlson: OK. So who should be the spokesman? Boehner? You see the problem.


Ana Marie Cox: Greetings from Austin Texas and my delayed flight!


Metro D.C.: TC - Do you think the GOP's dislike of Pres. Obama is as great as the Dems' dislike of former Pres. Bush?

AMC - Do you think Pres. Obama can get any movement on the health care reform issue in his first term?

Tucker Carlson: I don't think it's possible to hate a person more than many Democrats hated George W. Bush. I had otherwise sane neighbors who dreamed about dismembering him, literally. So, no, Obama's not even close.

Ana Marie Cox: I think the GOP is more frustrated with Obama than enraged by him.

More when I get off the plane and have a better phone connection...


Falls Church: Tucker: saw you on Reliable Sources talking about Cramer v. Stewart. You know, the whole world is not divided up into the vast left-wing conspiracy and the brave moral right that fights against it.

There are legitimate journalistic questions about the role of a financial channel and how much cheerleading it should do or if the interviewers sometimes treat business leaders like Access Hollywood treats celebrities or if they should be in the business of investigating corrupt businesses and business practices.

But to dismiss those questions as an Obama surrogate hit job... No wonder the majority of the country thinks the right is out of touch with reality.

Tucker Carlson: It's completely legitimate - necessary - to ask those questions, and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. I'm not defending Cramer, CNBC, greedheads on Wall Street, criminally overpaid CEOs or anyone else. I was trying to make two points:

Cramer humiliated himself the other night (and on many previous nights on his own show) but that doesn't mean he and his network are responsible for the meltdown. That's way too simple. In fact it's demagoguery. And by the way, where was Jon Stewart when the bubble was swelling? How many shows did he do on the coming financial collapse? Why didn't he warn us?

Stewart's answer invariably is: I'm a comedian. That's not my job. But that's a dodge, and increasingly unsustainable. In fact, Stewart is a player in the national conversation. He seeks to influence politics and policy, and he succeeds. It's time for him to admit that, and be held to the same standards everyone else at his level (including Jim Cramer) lives by.


Not laughing : Maybe you can help me out here. I just got a notice from my bank saying " insufficient funds ", does that mean me or the bank ?

Tucker Carlson: I'm not sure which would be better.


Yes, Boehner: And not just because I'm a Democrat, but also because I have the maturity of a twelve year old.

Tucker Carlson: I sort of agree with you. Boehner cracks me up. The tan, the smoldering Barclay in his nicotine-stained fingers, the barroom humor. So retro. My kind of guy. Unfortunately, in the sensitive new GOP of Michael Steele (My office is too masculine! he whimpers), he's considered an embarrassment. What a shame. Free Boehner!


San Francisco: Cramer should have had the chance to roll his own clips.

Tucker Carlson: He should have been smart enough not to appear in the first place. It's impossible to win in that environment, with an audience full of trained monkeys laughing on cue and a staff of dozens to pull clips. Cramer never had a chance. But as long as he was there, he never should have put all four paws in the air and extended his neck to Stewart. Appeasement only incites bullies. Didn't his father ever tell him that?


Ana Marie Cox: Sorry for the delay. I am on the world's slowest connection. HOW SLOW IS IT? It's still hopeful for Michael Steele's chances to reinvigorate the GOP.


Anonymous: The balance of power seems a little unbalanced today -- did you send Ana Marie to Austin in some kind of coup or something ?

Ana Marie Cox: It is true that Tucker controls space and time, but I am in Austin on my own accord. For some kind of music/tech/movie festival. A little, out of the way, obscure thing called "Southwest by SUCKS SO HARD TO ACTUALLY GET ANYWHERE."

It was poor planning on my part to time my flight so close to the chat. I apologize.


Alexandria, Va.: I believe that Gov Schwarzenegger has pretty much ruled out another term as Gov of California. Do you think he will end up in the Obama Admin in some capacity when he's done?

PS, Tucker, thank you for refraining from referring to anyone as "yummy".

Tucker Carlson: Hired by Obama? On what grounds? Because he's done such a good job wrecking California?

P.S. Thanks for noticing. I'm trying to remove that word from my public vocabulary. Not that it doesn't occur to me privately from time to time.


Jon Stewart: Methinks Jon does a much better job than the traditional media in holding folks accountable for what they put out there. He is right, he is a comedian - and he tries to show (in my opinion) how easy it is to debunk most of what is presented if one wanted to. Most MSM shows, now that Russert is no longer in the gotcha game, rarely call the so-called experts and politicos on anything. They just listen, over maybe a partial debate and move on. Rather than saying and presenting the facts from their own mouths that say - uh... wait a minute here you're wrong and misleading.

Tucker Carlson: I agree with you to this extent: If a phony like Jon Stewart is conducting the best interviews out there, the mainstream press is in deep trouble.


Grasonville, Md.: Ana Marie, Tucker Carlson did Americans a favor in 1999 when, in a magazine article, he revealed that George W. Bush, when you got beyond his veneer of Christian humility, was really just a plutocratic prep boy. When is a journalist on the Left going to do a similar expose of Barack Obama?

Ana Marie Cox: You mean like prove he did drugs or is the product of a broken home? Obama hasn't really left a lot on the table for people to "reveal."

About the worst I can see happening -- and this is based on no inside information whatsoever, just a guess -- is that the negative half of Obama's positive qualities will start to get more coverage. Like, sure, he's "cool," but that can also seem arrogant. He's composed, but that can seem controlling. He's ambitious but that can seem craven.... these, btw, were all the things the McCain campaign tried desperately to capitalize on and you can see how successful they were with that.


London: Tucker, would you be comfortable with more Senators in the Mathias, Javitz, Heinz, Chafee tradition - socially liberal, financially conservative? (AMC, you may sip your drink during this pause.)

Tucker Carlson: I'd be happy with senators who actually believe what they run on. Tom Coburn and former Sen. John Sununu come to mind on the Republican side, Russ Feingold and the late Paul Wellstone on the Democratic.


New York: I'm a fan of Jon Stewart and a lefty. And I have to say I like that he's challenging the mainstream media and CNBC should be called out for being the PR wing of Wall Street.

But he's wrong when he says CNBC and all the other financial journalists and publications, saw this coming and did nothing. I've worked as a financial journalist for the past dozen years, and can attest to the fact that most financial journalists have little or no experience in business and finance. Very few have been to business school. In fact, years ago I used to write a column giving financial advice to wealthy private jet passengers while at the same time collecting unemployment.

Basically, we write what the companies tell us. We're not so smart that we saw this coming. Believe me, if we did, we'd all be clamoring for the scoop.

Tucker Carlson: Exactly. In other words, the financial media may suck, but not intentionally. Stewart either doesn't grasp this or - more likely - knows it perfectly well, but continues to demagogue because it boosts his ratings.


Green Bay, Wisc.: First off, Tucker we still miss your weekday program on MSNBC. My comment is regarding our current President's apparent dismissal of his predecessors' attendence of the annual "Gridiron" banquet. All "Hell" would have broken out if, by chance, GWB would have declined his chance to sit at the head table and be totally humilated by various so called humorists. Isn't it a cardinal sin to "spit in the face" of the Washington Press Corps? Or will they just ignore this "missing in action" President and continue to act the role of lapdogs as long as we have a Democrat named President Obama in the White House and the "Oh so clever and funny" Robert Gibbs at the podium in the Press room? Just pondering this unique set of circumstances.

Ana Marie Cox: I miss Tucker's program too. The rest of your question... uhm... I guess maybe I was at some different banquets than you (or didn't see the same ones on CSPAN) because there was precisely one that even came close to "humiliating" Bush, and guests at that one didn't laugh too hard.

I think Obama pissed off more MSM journalists by calling on Sam Stein at the first press conference than he will by not going to the Gridiron, which is precisely the kind of even liberal bloggers' panties get all bunched up about: off the record schmoozing done for its own sake. The reason the Gridiron and WHCD exist is not to satirize the president but to make journalists feel like they COULD satirize the president IF THEY WANTED TO.

But I do "like" all of the ways you've "made" certain phrases seem "ironic."


Beallsville, Pa.: Now that conservatives have roundly disowned the Bush administration, why wouldn't they support trying him for war crimes to which he has publicly confessed? Wouldn't holding their own accountable be the best way for Republicans to regain the trust of the American people?

Tucker Carlson: Nuremberg trials seem a little strong. But I do agree that Republicans ought to think long and hard about how they arrived at where they are. I'm all for finger-pointing and recriminations.


North Haven, Conn.: How did you like the Jon Stewart vs. Jim Cramer show?

Ana Marie Cox: I thought it was more satisfying than entertaining -- or informative -- and that Stewart, if anything, pulled punches, even admitting that Cramer himself is not the problem -- the culture of financial journalism (or CNBC) is.

And aside from that I'll let you guys and Tucker continue to play cat and mouse. Just don't ask me who's who.


GOP Spokesman: I still say the GOP cupboard is totally bare except for Huckabee. The man's funny, and he doesn't sound nihilist or crazy. He doesn't sound like that intern character from the 30 Rock Show, and he actually ran a state competently. Who else is there?

Ana Marie Cox: Pawlenty! I never get tired of that guy. And despite his abysmal performance after the non-SOTU, Jindal still has a lot going for him and a huge opportunity to make another first impression. (Bill Clinton's national debut didn't go so hot either, remember?)

Some people say Gov Sanford but I think it's more likely we'll start calling tent cities "Sanfordvilles" before he gets close to national office.


Ana Marie Cox: I am SO sorry about the technical problems and the brevity of today's session. I promise next week will be better. Best to all and thanks, as usual, for coming by.


Silver Spring: Tucker, does your 'history' with Stewart kind of...color your views on the Cramer interview?

It is understandable...I would be hard pressed to speak nicely of anyone after a blow up like the one you two had back in the day.

Tucker Carlson: Obviously I haven't been a big fan since he made that ludicrous scene on Crossfire. (I still have no idea what he was talking about. Honestly.) But if anything, that experience prevented me from criticizing him in public for the past five years. I didn't want to sound bitter, which (and you don't have to believe me) I'm not. But the Cramer exchange was just too phony and annoying, so I lost control of myself and said something.

Thanks for indulging us this week. See you next Monday.


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