It Appears, And Not For The First Time, That Tucker Carlson And The Daily Caller Do Not Understand This Thing Called “Ethics”

Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson

Conservative blogger Mickey Kaus wrote a piece criticizing Fox News for not meeting its obligation (as Kaus sees it) to take on the role of media opposition on the issues of illegal immigration and amnesty, and instead, as Kaus told Politico, “filling up the airwaves with reports on ISIS and terrorism.”  (Kaus is wrong, but never mind) Kaus posted his commentary on the DC only to discover later that Daily Caller founder and editor Tucker Carlson had taken it down. Carlson’s explanation: “We can’t trash Fox on the site. I work there.'”

Indeed, Carlson, who co-founded The Daily Caller in 2010, is a conservative contributor to Fox News as well as the host of its weekend edition of “Fox & Friends,” on which he has been known to fall asleep on the air. Carlson told Kaus that the ‘no criticizing Fox News, ever’  policy was an unwaivable rule.

Kaus quit, as he should have.

The conflicts of interest on display here, the insensitivity to them, and the lack of any pretense of journalistic fairness or integrity is staggering. Carlson has placed The Daily Caller in the same, discredited ethics no-man’s land of Media Matters,, the Daily Kos and other sites that blatantly distort the news and their commentary on it for specific, ideological and personal agendas, and a personal agenda is the most unethical and cynical conflict of all. Carlson likes his Fox paycheck, apparently. Well, then, his ethical obligation is to have an independent journalist edit his website. In the alternative, he needs to refuse to work for Fox unless the network agrees to allow him full reign to say and write what he believes on his website, and to allow others to do so as well.

We now know that the Daily Caller’s content and commentary is directly linked to what its founder and owner believes is in  his financial and long-term career advantage. What is that? That’s not a news site, and it’s not a legitimate commentary site. A vanity site, perhaps?

Two things are  beyond debate: it’s sure not an ethical site, and Tucker Carlson is not a trustworthy journalist. In fact, he’s a money driven hack. If your conflicts of interest prevent you from being honest about anything, then you can be reasonably trusted to be objective about nothing. This is an ethics cascade: Fox News makes Carlson unethical, which makes the Daily Caller unethical, and by having an unethical journalist posing as an ethical one on its broadcasts, Fox is rendered untrustworthy by Carlson.

That is, it would be so rendered if it hadn’t forfeited all claims of trustworthiness by continuing to employ Bill O’Reilly. I guess Tucker belongs there.


13 thoughts on “It Appears, And Not For The First Time, That Tucker Carlson And The Daily Caller Do Not Understand This Thing Called “Ethics”

  1. The only way I can think of that this would be ethical is if it was part of a public policy of never discussing Fox News to avoid the conflict. E.g. “Our founder’s employment by Fox News creates an irreconcilable conflict of interest, therefore it is our policy never to report or comment on Fox News.”

    This is basically an extension of of the rule that reporters should not be assigned to stories where they have a financial interest. When the owner has the conflict, nobody who works for him can be assigned to the story. Of course this would mean dropping a lot of stories for the Caller.

    I guess another alternative would be to announce that the Daily Caller is an arm of Fox News. Nobody expects the company newsletter to criticize the company.

  2. Wait a second, Jack.
    Let’s re-frame this. I would like to see how you distinguish this.
    My client is a drunk and has several DWIs. My associate says as much.
    I fire my associate lawyer because I work for the client, she can’t trash him like that (by the way, you know it is unethical for her to do so, as well).
    Is Tucker’s situation different because journalistic ethics are defined differently than legal ethics, or what?

    • Says as much to YOU? I assume that’s fine. Says that to others? Flat out violation of legal ethics rules: for the purposes of the rules, your associate can’t do anything you can’t do, including exposing your clients’s secrets. But lawyer’s duties are to their clients, not the public as a whole. Journalists, on the other hand, are obligated to toi the public, and to tell the truth, “what the public has a right to know.”

      Yes, journalism ethics are very, very different from legal ethics, and properly so.

  3. Carlson is heir to the Swanson’s Frozen Foods fortune. Why are so many of the people in front of cameras purporting to be journalists fabulously wealthy children? (See, eg., Eliot Spitzer, Chelsea Clinton, Maria Shriver, Dylan Farrow, etc.) Do the networks sell seats and air time to the highest bidders?

    I doubt Carlson needs the money. He must be in it for purely ego-driven reasons. Doesn’t this result in rampant dilettante-ism? The working stiffs in journalism must get tired of this.

    • I didn’t know that! You mean all those TV dinners I ate as a kid while watching “The Twentieth Century” and “Walt Disney Presents” went into a dividend that Carlson stands to collect on? No wonder he can snore away on TV without a care in the world. And I actually liked those fried chicken ones, too. This impinges on my childhood experience. Drat!

      • “Cultivates the preppy look?” He EMBODIES it!” And by the way, he never went to college.

        Read about him years ago when he first appeared on TV. One of of those “Who on Earth is THIS guy and how did he get that job?” moments. In Wikipedia so it’s got to be true. As that other great mangler of the English Language, Casey Stengel, would say, “You could look it up.”

  4. Media is a profit-driven industry, whether it’s the NY Times or the Hartford Courant or HLN or Fox or CNN. It’s a business and business is not always bright and shiny and pretty. It does what’s in THEIR best interest. Accept that and you won’t get fooled again!

    • Do you not comprehend the mission of this site? I am not “fooled”: the media has ethical standards to meet. Explaining why they breach them isn’t helpful or relevant. The point is that they are obligated not to. Your comment is a lazy shrug.

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