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'No idea how evil': Tucker Carlson's counterpart recalls their forgotten C-SPAN segment
The young journalist looked a bit tired in his tan sport coat and striped bow tie.
It was early on a Saturday, after all — the 8 a.m. hour on New Year's Eve eve of 1995 — and he spoke in soft, sometimes halting tones about trimming government and encouraging tax cuts. He praised the Washington Post's watchdog reporting. He waxed philosophical about legislative processes in a fashion fit for a history professor.
"The founders didn't want, and I don't think we want, any bill or law or idea to breeze through Congress without a vigorous, and for that reason, grubby, debate," then-Weekly Standard staff writer Tucker Carlson told C-SPAN's "Saturday Journal" host Lew Ketcham. "That is the way the system should, and does work."
So it went. No yelling or cursing. No demonizing or demagoguing. When a chipper caller from Salt Lake City mistakenly referred to liberal magazine "Mother Jones" as "Mother Goose" while asking a question about corporate welfare, the malapropism caused 26-year-old Carlson to visibly swallow a sheepish smile.
Observed through the lens of now, the long-forgotten interview and call-in segment — as of today, the online clip of Carlson's C-SPAN debut has just 624 views during the past 27 1/2 years — is preposterous.
The Carlson of 2023 ranks among the most polarizing men in America, perhaps second only to former President Donald Trump — lionized by millions of conservatives for his bombastic Fox News broadcasts that detractors describe as a cesspool of racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. Carlson's anti-vaccine preaching, election conspiracy-promoting, Jan. 6 insurrection-denying shows were also huge business for Fox News — until the network fired him last month amid numerous controversies, including a discrimination lawsuit and revelations of racist text messages.
"I had no idea how evil he would turn out to be. No idea," author and journalist William Saletan, then a Mother Jones reporter who shared the C-SPAN studio with Carlson that morning, recalled to Raw Story. "And I don't think anything in that in that conversation prepared me for that."
William Saletan (l), Tucker Carlson (c) and C-SPAN host Lew Ketcham (r) appear on "Saturday Journal" the morning of Dec. 30, 1995.
Carlson's first C-SPAN interview "was notable for not being notable," Saletan said. "He didn't say anything that that was anything off the kind of standard path for what a mid-1990s conservative magazine writer might say about policy or politics."
So what happened to Carlson during the three ensuing decades, as he hopscotched his way from CNN to PBS to MSNBC to the Daily Caller to Fox News?
Saletan grew biblical.
"I'm kind of an Old Testament guy. I think that nobody makes you evil. You just are. And I'm sorry to say that," he said. "But ... I think somebody like him, he had to have had a core of vice, of viciousness, that he either disguised from others, from himself, from his audience. Maybe he suppressed it because you just couldn't say those kind of things out loud and have a career. But as soon as he could have a career and say those things, he started saying them."
Saletan continued: "Anyone watching him today, there's no way to describe that objectively other than mean, vicious, malignant, hateful. He just loves to humiliate people. He's like the kid in grade school who would find anything that he could pick on about you. And if it was your ethnicity, or your religion, that's what he would choose. That's the way he functions. He's a child. He's just absolutely a mean child with an adult job. He probably he had that in him all along."
Carlson could not be reached for comment. But in a video he posted on Twitter after his firing from Fox News, Carlson held court about the concept of truth.
"When honest people say what's true, calmly and without embarrassment, they become powerful. At the same time, the liars, who have been trying to silence them, shrink and they become weaker. That's the iron law of the universe. True things prevail. Where can you still find Americans saying true things? There aren’t many places left, but there are some. And that’s enough. As long as you can hear the words, there is hope."
Carlson also bemoaned how "undeniably big topics" facing the nation — war, civil liberties, science, demographic changes, corporate power, natural resources — are no longer discussed.
"When was the last time you've heard a legitimate debate about any of those issues? It's been a long time," Carlson said. "Debates like that are not permitted in American media."
Carlson, who last appeared on a C-SPAN-produced program in 2018, must've not checked the network's policy- and issue-heavy schedule lately.
What does Saletan, now a writer with The Bulwark, believe Carlson will do next with himself?
"If he thinks it was all a game, he'll probably sit there and collect his severance or whatever he got from Fox," Saletan said. "On the other hand, if he's sincere about this stuff, he might start his own media operation and say, what the hell? I don't have to answer to Rupert Murdoch or corporate executives any more. So I'm going to talk all the time about how the Muslims and the Mexicans are taking over our country."
Trumpworld out to ruin ex-attorney over 'crazy' revelation of possible obstruction
Donald Trump's advisers are threatening to ruin one of his former attorney's reputations after he revealed infighting among his legal team on the way out the door.
Defense attorney Tim Parlatore appeared earlier this month on CNN, where he discussed the disagreements that led to his departure, and Trump's advisers are furious that he disclosed longtime adviser Boris Epshteyn's role in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents coverup -- which they feel could implicate them, reported The Daily Beast.
“He basically called into question the legal team’s ethical guidelines,” said one source briefed on the situation. “So everyone who stayed…he put everyone in a very bad position.”
Parlatore told CNN that Epshteyn “served as kind of a filter" between the legal team and Trump, and believes he lied to both the attorneys and the former president, and three sources familiar with internal discussions told The Daily Beast this was received back at Mar-a-Lago as a betrayal.
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“He puts himself out there, goes on TV and motherf*cks people,” said one of these sources. “To say Boris is obstructing — who gets hurt there? Trump gets hurt there. That’s a serious, serious, true ethical violation. It’s a f*cked-up thing to do.”
Trump's inner circle wish Parlatore had kept quiet unless he was ordered to testify under oath by federal investigators, who've been questioning the defense team, even if they shared his apparent disregard for Epshteyn.
“I agree that Boris is an assh*le,” said another Trump lawyer. “But I’ve never seen anybody quit and go on TV and discuss attorney-client matters. That’s pretty crazy. Do I think it was completely inappropriate? Of course!”
Parlatore told The Daily Beast that he'd gone after Epshteyn on TV to extinguish rumors that he quit after being targeted by the feds and insisted that he might flip on the former president and turn into a cooperating witness.
“Nobody has discussed this with me, and I hope any professional attorney would beforehand,” Parlatore said. “I am completely and totally confident with the ethics and everything I’ve done in this case – and my departure. I was talking about Boris’ obstruction of other attorneys doing their job. I didn’t implicate anyone in any wrongdoing.”
Trump's presidential campaign called Parlatore's comments "unfounded and categorically false," but some of Trump's confidantes are considering a bar complaint alleging a breach of attorney-client privilege that could drag on behind the scenes at length -- but one lawyer familiar with the situation said that could actually free him from additional attorney-client obligations.
Watch: Fox News smacks down far right Republican complaining he gets just 3 days to read debt ceiling bill
Far-right House Republican Ralph Norman of South Carolina spent a good portion of Tuesday complaining about the debt ceiling bill, legislation that was brokered by President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy to avert a national and global financial meltdown, but even Fox News isn't interested in his complaints.
“It’s an insult, to get a 100-page bill, and be asked to decide on it on the spot,” Congressman Norman lied while at the Freedom Caucus's press conference Tuesday.
"I won't buy a microwave, unless I get it in writing," Rep. Norman said, although it was unclear what "it" is.
That video on social media went viral, with nearly one million views in just six hours.
Congressman Norman previously has claimed children are being aborted after being born while also voting against legislation to protect child sex abuse victims, refused to wear a mask during the hight of COVID because he was "tired" of them, voted for a federal vigilante "Don't Say Gay" bill, denied the January 6 insurrectionists were Trump supporters, and urged the U.S. Supreme Court to declare it legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
Tuesday afternoon he continued his rant about having to vote on the debt ceiling bill while only getting three days to read it, but even Fox News was not putting up with it.
"We were on Memorial Day, and to get a call to come and support a bill, a negotiated bill that we hadn't even read," Norman complained.
"It's like the [Speaker] Pelosi days. You gotta pass it before you can read it," Norman said. For only one bill, the Affordable Care Act, which is 906 pages, and was written and negotiated over the course of more than a year, did Speaker Pelosi say it could only be read after it had been passed.
"But he is giving you 72 hours to consider it," Fox News host John Roberts reminded Norman.
"Pelosi didn't do that," he claimed.
"We ought to have a lot more time," Norman insisted.
"It's only 99 pages," Roberts also reminded Norman.
Norman, who has signaled he will not be voting for the legislation, insisted it's "time to negotiate and go back to the table," which will not happen.
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