Tucker Carlson appears committed to handing his advertisers cause to pull out of his Fox News program. A week ago, Carlson said that immigration makes the United States “dirtier," not to mention poorer and more divided. The next day, Pacific Life, whose advertisement ran after the “dirtier” segment, announced it wouldn’t be advertising on the program pending a reevaluation.
On Monday, Carlson recommitted to the dirt narrative, citing trash left by immigrants near the southern border. Such insistence helped to intensify the campaign against him. At this point, about 20 companies have announced their withdrawal from advertising on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” a list that includes TD Ameritrade, Jaguar Land Rover, Pfizer and Samsung.
Then came last night. Legal eminence Alan M. Dershowitz surfaced on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to talk about the Michael Flynn proceedings. The host set up his guest with these lines: “I read Mike Flynn described as a double agent in The Washington Post. And then I saw the Judge Sullivan yesterday describe him as someone who had committed treason. Is that the crime for which he is facing prison?” asked Carlson.
Dershowitz, as it turned out, had more pressing matters to address: “No, not at all. And I’ll get to that in a second. But Tucker, I just want to make one point. I hope you don’t mind me making it. ... I hate boycotts and attempts — I hope — I hate boycotts and attempts to censor free speech. I’m in favor of complete dialogue. But as such, I feel compelled to tell you I do respect [but] disagree with the way you categorize mass immigration. That’s all. I just want to say that,” said Dershowitz.
After some idle chatter about the importance of speaking your mind, Dershowitz dug in a bit deeper: “I wish you hadn’t used that language. Language like that was used to describe my grandparents and great-grandparents and probably some of yours. So let’s move on,” said Dershowitz.
At which point, Carlson proceeded to rearrange very recent history. He rewound to his Dec. 13 show and tried to add favorable context: “That was in the context of a conversation with an elected official in Tijuana about the filth ... of his city and he was complaining about how dirty it had become, which was a byproduct of the policy decisions pushed by the American left and I noted .... There’s a lesson there perhaps for us. So I’m not — and I would never describe people as inherently dirty. I don’t think that they are. I’m pro-people. That’s one of the reasons I’m against abortion, strongly,” Carlson protested.
Dershowitz thanked him for clarifying. “I think it was clear and I think that the people who are mischaracterizing it are always welcome on the show to talk it through and to hear my side and I will hear their side because, again, this is one of the last forums in America for open conversation,” said Carlson.
Mischaracterizing? The Erik Wemple Blog has asked Fox News just which folks are guilty of this offense. Which journalists have twisted Carlson’s words? Has Fox News had to seek corrections for these infractions? We ask because the Carlson comments from Dec. 13 weren’t terribly complex or context-dependent. Here’s the transcript from the very top of the show:
TUCKER CARLSON- HOST: Good evening and welcome to TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT. Here's a funny thing that we noticed the other day. People debate all the time about mass immigration. What you never hear anybody do is make the economic case for mass immigration. And here's why.Our country’s economy is becoming more automated and tech-centered by the day, it’s obvious that we need more scientists and skilled engineers. But that’s not what we’re getting. Instead, we’re getting waves of people with high school educations or less. Nice people, no one doubts that. But as an economic matter, this is insane.It’s indefensible so nobody even tries to defend it. Instead, our leaders demand that you shut up and accept this. We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poor and dirtier and more divided.
The part about dirt squared with comments that Carlson had made in August: “I actually hate litter, which is one of the reasons I’m so against illegal immigration. Produces a huge amount of litter ... and I mean that with all sincerity.”
Give this much to Carlson: He’s not prone to double-talk or equivocations. He speaks — and writes — with concision and strong, active verbs. It’s a style that leaves little room for mischaracterization. And that’s one of the reasons advertisers are deciding not to associate with his program.