The Secular Coalition for America on Monday dubbed Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller "the most unethical news publication," after receiving what it described as "discriminatory and unethical emails" from an employee.
"I've covered all kinds of stories featuring sources I did not agree with. I never once injected my personal opinion into the interviews or an interactions with a source or potential source," communication's director Lauren Anderson Youngblood, who received the emails, told Raw Story.
The emails in question were sent by Christopher Bedford, a conservative columnist at the publication who also serves as an editor.
In response to a press release sent out on July 19, 2012, Bedford wrote to the group's female spokesman, "Here's a Dick pic." Attached to the email was a picture of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
After receiving another press release on May 3, Bedford wrote to Youngblood, "It's nice out. Take a day off from hating God, kids and babies."
Youngblood replied that the email was "extremely offensive."
"On top of hating babies, kids and God, I'm gonna go ahead and add 'being a tattle-tale' and 'being the most sensitive person ever named Youngblood' to your list of offenses," he wrote back. "I'm not sure what y'all believe in beyond annoying America, but if it's what most atheists believe, I hope it comes true: I hope you live a long, happy life surrounded by friends and family, and when, in many years time, it is your turn to rejoin your earth mommy, you become one with her, growing into a majestic and beautiful tree that some hardworking American fells, turns into paper and prints a Bible on."
Contacted by Raw Story, Bedford jokingly brushed off the "award."
"I'm a little honored," he told Raw Story. "I'd like to thank God, my managers, my teachers, and my parents who stuck with me all these years. They got me through and it's a good day."
He said he was just poking fun at Youngblood and the Secular Coalition, something he does with various publications and organizations.
"I used to be a flak," the conservative columnist explained. "It is a lonely, lonely job sending emails out into the Internet void, and it's good to hear back from people, good or bad. And I like to tease them a little bit."
Bedford said he was surprised that Youngblood was offended by his email. He was even more surprised that she copied his publisher Tucker Carlson, his executive editor, and his deputy editor in her reply. Bedford said Secular Coalition executive director Edwina Rogers also emailed Carlson and Carlson's father about the emails, which he described as "demented." Carlson's father had "zero involvement with the Daily Caller" besides his involvement in conceiving Carlson, he mockingly noted.
"Bedford seems to take great pride in his lack of journalistic ethics and even asked me today to send him a PDF version of the press release with our letter head on it. To frame, presumably?" Youngblood told Raw Story.
Youngblood also alleged that when the Daily Caller called her to obtain quotes about the "award," she was asked why she looked at the "dick pic" email.
"Instead of asking why Bedford sent the email, they wanted to know why I looked," she told Raw Story. "Their behavior is the epitome of unprofessional and no matter how any journalist feels personally about our position on church/state separation, religion, science, or anything else, every professional reporter should agree that this behavior is not befitting of the profession."
Carlson also jokingly brushed aside the incident.
"While I understand that many people have strong emotional reactions to the Bush Administration, it's hard to see why there's anything discriminatory or unethical about sending someone a picture of Dick Cheney," he told Raw Story via email.
[Note: Updated after publication]