If I told you that Tucker Carlson isn't legally allowed in shoe stores because every time he enters he drops to his knees and starts licking all of the boots, you would understand that I don't mean that literally as this is a comedy website and that is (probably) a joke. Fox News, however, is not a comedy website, and I know this because it has the word News in the title and because when my uncle is watching for hours on end, he is never laughing. So when Tucker Carlson appears on Fox News and says, "Remember the facts of the story, these are undisputed. Two women approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn't give them money. Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion," then you might be inclined to believe that two women were trying to extort Donald Trump.
However, Karen McDougal, one of the women allegedly extorting Donald Trump, is suing Carlson for defamation because, you know, Carlson is full of shit. Again, not literal, although I imagine he is constipated from head to toe. What makes this case so interesting though, is that instead of Fox News and their lawyers standing by Carlson's claim that McDougal extorted Trump, they are saying this:
"What we're talking about here, it's not the front page of The New York Times. It's 'Tucker Carlson Tonight,' which is a commentary show."
And, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a lawyer for Fox News told a New York federal judge on Wednesday that:
"Tucker Carlson doesn't have an obligation to investigate the truth of statements before making them on his show, and his audience doesn't expect him to report facts."
His audience doesn't expect him to report facts. It's an astounding claim for a news channel to make, but the truth of the matter is I would almost agree with them if they were to change one word. Tucker Carlson's audience shouldn't expect him to report the facts. Whether or not they actually do is up to debate. Certainly, anyone who watched Jon Stewart lampoon Carlson on CNN's Crossfire would never again believe a single gaseous, stinky word farted out of Carlson's mouth.
It's exactly as Jon Stewart pointed out all the way back in 2006. What Carlson does is political theater, which is maybe fine, so long as your audience knows it. The problem is that this theater relies on people believing it is real. Even with Fox essentially admitting that it's all bullshit, it doesn't change the fact that when you appear on a station with News in the title and are preceded by reporters, it might give off the impression that your job is to report the news.
So I expect from here on out that Fox will give some sort of disclaimer at the beginning and end of every Tucker Carlson appearance, kind of like they do on South Park. "All Characters, including Tucker Carlson, and events in this show are entirely fictional. The following program contains disingenuous arguments and scurrilous claims and should not be viewed by anyone." That, or they should at least rebrand as Fox Some News But Mostly Bullshit and be done with it.
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