Signature Significance: Tucker Carlson Generously Demonstrates Why He Had To Be Fired

It was really nice of Tucker Carlson, while his former bosses were being condemned and attacked throughout the conservative news media, to go on a podcast and demonstrate exactly why any responsible news organization would be ethically obligated to show him the gate. I’m sure that wasn’t his intent, but the fact that he doesn’t even recognize the implications of his own words is an additional reason why he had to go. He’s irresponsible. He’s untrustworthy. He is a demagogue, and, I suspect, a sociopath. People like Carlson—Father Coughlin, Joe McCarthy, General Edwin Walker, Alex Jones, Robert Welch and so many more—abuse the First Amendment and are, to be blunt, destructive to the nation.

On the podcast of another Fox News exile , Carlson said,

“If you say, like, ‘What actually happened with building 7? Like that is weird, right? It doesn’t—like, what is that?’… If you were to say something like that on television, they’d flip out. They would flip out. So you’d, like, lose your job over that. It’s an attack on my country. Can I ask? I don’t really understand. Do buildings actually collapse? No, they—maybe they do. I don’t know. But, like, why can’t I ask questions about that?”

Why? Carlson is actually asking why a national TV host on a news network shouldn’t speculate on completely unsupported conspiracy theories designed to destroy the public’s faith and trust in all aspects of its government? Why? Because it is wildly irresponsible, that’s why. Because it is unethical for a nationally televised pundit whom millions of people watch and trust to just muse about such things to stir up controversy and ratings. Because it is the broadcasting equivalent of tossing a match into the dry undergrowth of a large forest.

If Carlson wanted to use his show to examine the Truthers’ fantasies, there are responsible ways of doing that. Bring on legitimate researchers who have studied the issue and let them present their evidence, pro and con. Make sure a conspiracy expert is on hand to explain how wildly unlikely it is for a plot as evil, insane and complex as the “Bush and Company intentionally attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to have an excuse to start a war” fantasy to have no leaks for more than two decades. What Carlson said on the podcast, however, and was perfectly capable of saying in his Fox News show, was the equivalent of…

  • “Hey, how do we really know there was a moon landing? Maybe there was. I don’t know.”
  • “Isn’t it possible that Donald Trump was conspiring with Russia to get elected President? Like that was weird, right?”
  • “Could Hitler really have murdered 6 million Jews? Can I ask?  I don’t know. But, like, why can’t I ask questions about that?”
  • “Did LBJ help plot the Kennedy assassination? I don’t really understand. “

An ethical journalist doesn’t make up facts, and an ethical pundit doesn’t base his or her punditry on speculation. Rhetorical questions and “What ifs?” are the age-old tools of power-seeking, chaos-promoting demagogues. Way back in 2010, I wrote about Carlson’s device, wielded by another:

“…I first encountered the device of the unfounded accusatory rhetorical questions when, as a teenager, I became fascinated by the Lincoln assassination conspiracy. A best-seller at the time was “Web of Conspiracy,” an over-heated brief for the theory that Lincoln’s War Secretary, Edwin Stanton and others were in league with John Wilkes Booth. The author, a mystery writer named Theodore Roscoe, was constantly suggesting sinister motives by asking questions like “The sealed records of the official assassination investigation were destroyed in a mysterious fire. Was the War Department afraid of what the documents would prove? Would they have implicated Stanton? We will never know.”  This tactic is on view regularly today, used generously by the purveyors of modern conspiracies, but it is also a regrettably common tool of journalists and historians…. This is just wrong; it is unethical journalism and unfair analysis. There are some questions that shouldn’t be asked until there is enough genuine evidence to begin answering them. Until there is, such questions become their own answers, which is often exactly what the questioner intends.

Carlson’s off-hand comment on the podcast is signature significance for many things—an untrustworthy self-proclaimed “truth-teller,” an irresponsible pundit, and an asshole. There is no smoking gun that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 bombings, but Carlson’s statement is a smoking gun that he is a malign presence on the national scene.

26 thoughts on “Signature Significance: Tucker Carlson Generously Demonstrates Why He Had To Be Fired

  1. I disagree entirely. The government is entirely untrustworthy. Anything they tell you you are not allowed to question should be questioned thoroughly.

    There is no ethical obligation to believe the government is trustworthy.

    • There is no ethical obligation to believe anything. There is an ethical obligation not to plant doubt, fear and suspicion without evidence, particularly if one is a journalist or public figure.

      • The government planted doubt, fear and suspicion all by itself. I don’t need to look any further than the government funding for gain of function research that led to the COVID-19 outbreak to know the US government would absolutely commit atrocities and then cover them up.

        The habit of calling things conspiracy theories to shut down discussion of them needs to be nipped in the bud.

          • You assume the the only people with questions are crazy people and people with bad motives. There are other people with with questions. Sometimes people see the ramblings of the crazy and malicious, and they get confused. They want someone credible to explain to them why it is crazy or malicious rather than possible for something like the building 7 explosion to have been caused by the government. If you treat everyone with questions like they are crazy or malicious, they assume you are the one who is crazy or malicious.

            A calm, logical, and considerate examination of people’s questions will go a lot farther towards convincing them that something is nonsense than rancor, condemnation and insults. There is nothing wrong with asking questions. Refusing to listen to considerate and thoughtful answers is possibly unethical, but asking for them isn’t.

            • No, NP. I assume there is a material difference between rumor-spreading and runor-mongering. What Tucker casually thre into the wind is just as vile and irresponsible as asking if the Holocaust really was a bad as everyone says. It’s neither punditry nor journalism.

              • Now I am going to have to go listen to the stupid podcast to find out what he was talking about. I assume, as Chris states below, that he was talking about being able to freely question authority. Maybe I’m wrong and he was making sinister insinuations. I won’t know unless I go listen to it. Which I was avoiding, because I don’t particularly want to go listen to Tucker Carlson. I only hope he doesn’t make a whole bunch of sense and suck me in.

  2. I don’t agree. Speech is the best way to see where someone stands. Better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and prove it. Yes, I prove on a regular basis, doesn’t make it wrong.

    • A journalist, pundit or elected official is not like a normal member of the public. An extra amount of care and accountability is mandatory. This is the principle Trump seems unable to grasp.

      • True, they get to claim “absence of malice” or that the target is a legitimate public figure, like Nick Sandman(sp?). What about all the truth being revealed about the Wuhan virus that was conspiracy theories for years? Walter Cronkite and the coverage of the Tet offensive. These may be an ethical be it

        • Irrelevant. The issue is THAT claim, not other claims that may have had some evidence, however slight, to justify investigating them. That claim is sui generis—particularly vile, contrived, paranoid, stupid and corrosive.

  3. I am glad I am not the only one who does not agree with Jack’s perspective. The government has earned its reputation as not being always above board. I understood the podcast to be on the topic of being able to freely question authority and not the issue of the government involvement in 9/11.

    If in fact Fox news canned him for asking questions the government didn’t like, then by definition, we have the melding of the power of government and corporate interests. This is illustrative of the Italian form of fascism.

    I for one don’t believe that the Bush regime orchestrated the 9/11 attacks or brought down building 7. But if building 7 was not hit directly then why it collapsed is something to be evaluated on an engineering level, so some questions are in order. I typically give the government the benefit of the doubt but when they try to avoid laying out all the facts as they know them and label others pejoratively as conspiracy theorists then I have to wonder why. The main thing that erodes trust in government is a lack of candor and the use of linguistic techniques to obscure facts that may prove politically embarrassing.

    When government officials begin owning up to their mistakes and operate in a less Machiavellian manner, we can begin to criticize those who question their activities,

    • Chris—address those hypothetical questions, please. The Building 7 theory is not a rational topic. The claim that the government bombed the Twin towers and killed 3000 people isn’t a legitimate topic, any more than the claim that a pizza joint in Dc was conspiring with Hillary to run a child sex ring. Hanlon’s Razor applies: no, it is not rational to blindly trust any bureaucracy like the US government, but believing the Truther theories would mandate a real insurrection…and the theories are just plain stupid. I don’t care why Building 7 collapsed. The US Government, with life-long genuine patriots and dedicated public servants like Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell and Cheney in charge, did not and could not have participated in such a mad and destructive plot. Ever. It didn’t happen. It is more likely that Babe Ruth was really a space alien—at least that’s remotely possible. Carlson is literally trying to cause trouble by raising this crap. I’m disgusted with him. He is officially an ethics corrupter.

      • You can’t win with these theorists. Amiri Baraka the elder not only believed that Israel was behind 9/11, he wrote a poem to that effect, asking why all the Jews stayed home that day. Did he have some special insight into the events of that day? Does any professor and poet anywhere have any special insight into incidents like this? No, he didn’t say this or write this because he had any special insight. He wrote that because, plain and simple, he was an anti-Semite and a black supremacist, and saw a chance to smear a group he hated. He would never admit it, of course, but it’s the truth. The same is true of most of these so-called truthers. None of them have any special insight into 9/11, but most of them either hate the Republican party or hate government generally, and they saw a chance to attack, or didn’t believe that something like that could happen unless the people they hated the most were behind it. Same with the 2016 election, same with the last election. No one is ever going to be able to come up with hard evidence of interference in either, but each side believes with all its heart that it just can never lose and if it loses, something must have been tampered with. No one helps anything by pushing this.

      • Jack,
        I am not arguing that the building 7 collapse was a government plot I was arguing that no one should be punished for asking questions. Once again, you fight conspiracy theories with logic and provable facts. You create distrust when you punish questioners.

        As for the Bush et al this was the group who had us believing in weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I for one believe that they existed but were moved or hidden. But, because I cannot prove this means that I cannot rule out other less legitimate rationales for enriching the military industrial complex.
        If I recall we discussed the issue of shutting down debate as a tactic of the left to advance totalitarianism. I can distinguish between fanciful notions and logical arguments. If others are so easily swayed by conspiracy theories it speaks volumes about our citizenry.

  4. Carlson is engaging in media trolling just like he’s always done.

    Media Trolling: Media that distributes inflammatory propaganda with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response thus getting more attention for their media outlet.

    For Carlson, it’s all about Carlson.

    Carlson is a narcissist just like Trump and I had enough of him long ago.

      • Other Bill wrote, “Either be a journalist/news reader or a provocateur. Can’t be both and skip back and forth.”

        Naaa, he’s shown me that he’s the epitome of a troll, just like Trump, and he’s out for self promotion and if that happens to look like journalism once in a while that just a fluke. As the old saying goes; he laugh’s all the way to the bank.

  5. Stipulated; Carlson is flawed.
    However, he is most certainly and by a wide margin a net positive in the media world, particularly among the MSM talking heads.

      • Obviously I value what he illuminates on air more than you Jack and simply overlook his flaws because he is a valuable and important news resource in contrast to the rest of the MSM. He was popular exactly because he frequently offered a smart challenging perspective within an environment of propaganda. That is invaluable, especially these days.
        Plus, he is good to his wife and family and doesn’t cheat. A man of character.

  6. Footnote: I read most of “Web of Conspiracy.” Stopped when the nth rhetorical question was used to imply a conspiracy or unproven ‘fact.’. The rhetorical question is an interesting device, but not when used as an easy or sloppy way to accuse, attack, or otherwise foster a “fact” without taking the chance of actually doing so.

  7. If you REALLY want to see the “rhetorical question” being abused in rapid-fire fashion, give Ancient Aliens a watch. The whole goddamn show is an exercise in repeatedly saying “Here’s a thing that we thing is odd or hard to explain. Therefore the ONLY POSSIBLE explanation is . . . ALIENS!!!”

    Also, seriously, I can’t stop staring at that guy with the crazy hair.


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