WKRP's Mr. Carlson vs. CNN's Tucker Carlson

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Blogger Mr. Sun shines a white-hot light on a much-needed comparison between one of TVLand's most genial bumbling fools and Crossfire's bowtied host, ouchingly bitchslapped by Jon Stewart.

Step aside, Goofus & Gallant, there's a new must-read compare-and-contrast bit in town. A sample:

Mr. Carlson: Routinely upstaged by aging hipster who rants incoherently, but is loved for his brutal honesty (Johnny Fever).

Tucker Carlson: Routinely upstaged by aging hipster who rants incoherently, but is loved for his brutal honesty (James Carville).

Details here.

Footage of T. Carlson and Stewart here.

NEXT: If A Man Who Identifies Himself As "The King" Is Not Allowed To Be First Guest On Tonight's Show, You Will Never See Me Again, Alive, Again

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  1. One word: ouch.

  2. goddam.

    whenever i see tucker i think of the preppie frat in animal house.

  3. T.C. is another datum in supporting the theory:

    Never trust a guy who regularly wears a bow tie.

    Funny how this principled conservative winds up with his own weekly show on PBS.

    Other examples:

    The unctuous George Will.

    The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who, as an academic and presidential advisor, often said and wrote valuable and incisive things. Once he ran for, and won, a seat in the Senate he became as predictable a defender of the welfare state as could be imagined.

    U.S. Representative Otis G. Pike. Hey, he was my congresscritter when I was a kid. (D-NY, 1st CD) Elected in 1960, he served through 1978. He chaired the House Select Committee on Intelligence in the late 70’s, the counterpart to the Senate panel Frank Church headed. When he decided not to run again in `78, there were articles in local papers hinting that he had investments in nursing homes that had questionable Medicaid/Medicare billing practices.

    Pee Wee Herman

    Louis Farrakhan

    There are others.

    Kevin

  4. Here’s what I don’t get about the whole thing.

    Stewart’s response to “How are you holding up? Is it hard not to take the attacks personally?” is that he’s a comedian? Is that question funny?

  5. Tucker had to go home and take a few stiff drinks after that beat-down — ouch

  6. Tying a bow tie IS really hard.

  7. Kurt,

    Better to say that he’s a celebrity interviewer, just like all the other celebrity interviewers on all those other talk shows. Speaking as a fan of the Daily Show, he could stand to be more hard-hitting, but it would be better if they’d just scrap the interview segment altogether, as that’s the point where I just stop watching. The world doesn’t need any more celebrity interviewers, and if I wanted to see that sort of thing, I might as well be watching Letterman or Conan.

  8. stewart hiding behind his label is a bit disingenuous, ok? i agree with that.

    what that does not change is that he is absolutely dead-nuts 100% correct about “crossfire” and the entire ilk of tv slime which teaches americans nothing except that politics = confrontation, inflexibility, spin, scripted antipathy and “low intensity warfare”.

    unfortunately, simply observing the problem will not fix it.

  9. If you think Stewart came off looking good, check your meds. Stewart used to be funny before he found a higher vocation as weighty political critic. No one has much use for a clown with deep thoughts. As vacuous as Crossfire is, it’s even more painful to watch a self-righteous scold like Stewart lecture the hosts about their lack of gravitas. Watching Carlson interview Stewart, who decided to come on the show but show his moral superiority by being boorish, reminded me of seeing Letterman interview Madonna years ago. At least Stewart didn’t start babbling about pissing in the shower.

  10. I wasn’t particularly impressed by Jon Stewart either. I don’t watch Crossfire, so I don’t have a very good sense of whether the criticism was justified. But Carlson had a great comeback right at the end that more than made up for any points scored by Stewart. For the most of the interview, Stewart complained that Crossfire was too confrontational. Toward the end of the interview, he complained that the media, including Crossfire, was unwilling to force politicians to give straight answers. Carlson called him on the contradiction, and Stewart just stammered for a couple of seconds until he was mercifully saved by a commercial break.

    As far as I could tell, Jon Stewart didn’t have any particularly insightful point to make, and he certainly wasn’t being funny. Somebody needs to find a way to keep that man’s ego in check. He was much funnier before he started taking himself so seriously.

  11. I never watch ‘Crossfire’, and I do watch ‘The Daily Show’. Sometimes it is really good, and sometimes it is like watching a 527 add that tries to intersect humor.

    From watching that little snippet, I figure I haven’t missed much by not watching ‘Crossfire’. The two hosts seemed to be all about interupting before letting John Stewart make his point. Maybe if they had let him say his piece they could have contradicted him. I don’t know.

  12. Xavier,

    I don’t think that his argument is contradictory. It seems to me that what he’s saying is that Crossfire — and, really, our whole political dialogue — is basically unserious, just a bunch of theater. Yes, Crossfire is clearly confrontational enough in that it has people shouting each other down. But what’s lacking is meaningful debate, because both sides are too busy being OUTRAGED at this Mary Cheney flap, or the SwiftVets thing, or the CBS memos thing, or whatever. And when we do discuss policy? It really is a matter of who’s more effective at shouting the other guy down, because if we were to ask either candidate where they’re gonna get the money for their proposals, they wouldn’t even have a serious answer to give us.

  13. Vidkun Quisling and Xavier must’ve watched the same clip from the link you provided as I did

    To Nick and the rest: stewart bitchslapped carlson in about the same way kerry bitchslapped bush, i.e., purely in the eyes of drinkers of a certain flavor of kool-aid

    the closer we get to this election, the daily show’s about as funny as bill maher’s inaptly named ‘politically incorrect’ or as reason is lately insightful

    i’m sure that for a month after the election the only thing funny about any of you will be the way you’re walking

  14. “I wasn’t particularly impressed by Jon Stewart either. I don’t watch Crossfire, so I don’t have a very good sense of whether the criticism was justified. But Carlson had a great comeback right at the end that more than made up for any points scored by Stewart. For the most of the interview, Stewart complained that Crossfire was too confrontational. Toward the end of the interview, he complained that the media, including Crossfire, was unwilling to force politicians to give straight answers. Carlson called him on the contradiction, and Stewart just stammered for a couple of seconds until he was mercifully saved by a commercial break.”

    you’re on crack — which you really have to be to be taking Tucker Carlson’s side. Stewart was never allowed to make his point really though in his failure he made the others look like shite.

    Crossfire is confrontational without being substantive which is fine except they claim to be substantive. They don’t cause anyone to tell the truth — the format of the show and others like it allow people to sound like charlatons even if they are brilliant because they only have 5 seconds to explain complex arguements.

    Why does a brilliant, articulate guy like Jacob Sullum look like an ass on O’reilly? He has 10 seconds to explain american drug policy and why it should be changed — all O’reilly has to do it say — ‘you want to give crack to five year olds you bastard!’– commercial — O’Reilly wins and then he invites him into the shower…thats another story I’m sure…

    Crossfire hosts are tools that get hacks on their show to argue with each other in 8 sec sound bites, this favors the carnival workers of the world like abe foxman, that blond republican broad and others who would better serve america selling tickets on a ferris wheel — does anyone else laugh when Paul Begalia says ‘and I’m from the left’ — yeah and Chomsky is voting for Bush.

    Stewart’s real victory is that he actually forced his way enough he could make three consecutive sentences in a row without someone interrupting him — he’s right — we need a real confrontational debate and not trite crap like Crossfire allowing the network to say ‘look at crossfire we allow everyone to have their say and hold their feet to the fire.’

    ‘light a man a fire he’ll be warm for a night. Light a man ON fire he’ll be warm the rest of his life’ — some great individual…

    Cheers,
    Spur

  15. Spur,

    Nicely said.

  16. Maybe they could have a pay-per-view, epic talking head bitch-slap. Chris Matthews, Lou Dobbs, Novak, etc., all armed with martinis & going at each other in a big snake pit. Maybe leaven in with a little estrogen and throw Christine Amanpour in there, just for kicks.

  17. I think we’re forgetting that Jon Stewart was criticizing Paul Begala’s show too. Carlson was brave enough to take Stewart on. Mr. Begala said a few critical things, but generally stayed out of the fight.

    I suppose it made Stewart feel good to say “dick” on prime-time t.v. To me, it was just tasteless.

  18. The irony is that as Stewart was criticizing Carlson and Begala for doing “theater” instead of serious political discussion, he turned the show into some of the best theater I’ve ever seen. Clifford Odets vs. The Frat Boy. Stewart had terrific presence, but content-wise it was a draw.

  19. 1. Tucker IS a dick. With all apologies to Kevrob, there is NOTHING principled about his conservatism (yes, there ARE principled conservatives). He’s disingenuous, smarmy and plain foolish. (BTW, you forgot Senator Paul Simon and C. Everett Koop)

    2. Vidkun Quisling & Xavier missed Stewart’s point entirely –

    A:The Daily Show (whether or not YOU think it’s funny) is entertainment, satire and mockery. It is billed as such and appears on a network famous for such. It NEVER pretends to be anything more than that. It creates fake news stories, welcomes (and softballs) interviews from folks on BOTH sides and occassionaly makes a witty and insightful point but as Stewart says in this week’s T.V. Guide never tries to be mean or cruel.

    B. Crossfire and it’s ilk (and Tucker Carlson in particular for this situation) DO pretend to be more than they are. They pretend to be substantive and insightful when in reality they are lame and pointless (and not even THAT entertaining) slapfests where both sides get up and rant at each other with no one holding their feet to the fire on the facts. It’s point and attraction are to see lame attempts on both sides to scream at each other. It’s not debate, it’s entertainment.

    Stewart summed it up best to Begalia’s insistance that they were a debate show. Stewart shot back “that’s like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition.”

    Stewart’s point (from MY humble perspective) is one I see lamented over and over on this and other blog/boards which is that political discourse has become controlled, scripted, stratgized and lacks any sense of responsibility to the public it claims to serves.

    It’s more about personalities and posturing and less about analysis and examination.

  20. I think we’re forgetting that Jon Stewart was criticizing Paul Begala’s show too.

    absolutely — before anyone gets on the tucker-vs-jon tip, begala is a furiously spinning stuffed shirt in every way the same as carlson.

    If you think Stewart came off looking good, check your meds.

    mr quisling, i’ll overlook the irony of your making a gratuitously confrontational comment on this of all threads 🙂 — but i agree that stewart did not look a hero. what he looked was an uncomposed, honestly angry person — angry enough to lose control and call the bow tie a “dick”.

    that does not nullify his point. he’s still 100% correct that newstalk/infotainment like “crossfire” is a deception, inherently facile jabber attempting to confuse info-desperate citizens and market itself as serious discussion and/or debate. akin to CNBC, it is disingenuous and truly comic — 99% noise for 1% signal — and few if any, regardless of how intelligent, can divine the weakly-transmitted information from the mess of shit. you’re as likely to get good political information from used-car salesmen. anyone who thinks they consistently are is arrogantly deluding themselves.

    if stewart, regardless of how he “looked”, drove that point home to even a few percent of the info-desperate who may have been duped and bought into “crossfire” as something educational, then bully for him and for all of us.

  21. The greatest part of this thread for me was going to i-films and looking at some of those free films. Conservative Eye for the Liberal Guy (“under more popular short films”) was a very funny take off of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It is here http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2646423 .

  22. It would be a rather novel idea for a candidate to come on to a show, by himself or perhaps with one support person, and be asked about one or two issues. Like “Why do you think that tax cuts are good for the country, and what mechanisms provide these benefits. Also include negative effects, please.” If guys were forced to do this, by public demand, then maybe we’d get something besides puppets and actors as candidates. Unfortunately, very few people liked essay questions in school, and they don’t like them on TV, so we get the soundbite politics where everything is either pie-in-the-sky promises – “I’ll cut taxes AND spend more AND reduce the deficit!” – or demagoguery of the other candidate. Stewart’s right that the current punditry does not hold politicians ‘feet to the fire’, no matter what their protestations to the contrary. And that lame Tu Quoque argument that Carlson tried about The Daily Show fell absolutely flat.

    I agree with Stewart: we need something different from our political punditry. But we’re never going to get it, because the people paying the bills (viewers, whether you think so or not) don’t want wonky shows. So we get crap, both on TV politics shows and in office.

  23. “To Nick and the rest: stewart bitchslapped carlson in about the same way kerry bitchslapped bush, i.e., purely in the eyes of drinkers of a certain flavor of kool-aid”

    Nick Gillespie, drinker of Kerry Kool Aid. You heard it here first!

  24. “[B]ut i agree that stewart did not look a hero. what he looked was an uncomposed, honestly angry person …”

    With all due respect, he looked self-important and churlish, breaking a basic rule of television hospitality. Let’s stipulate that Crossfire is mindless shouting with minimal content. Stewart was invited on to promote his book, be funny, or whatever, not to unload on the hosts for being what they are and what everyone knows them to be. This was the thrust of Carlson’s remark about what a fun dinner guest Stewart would be. His performance was equivalent to going on Oprah to fearlessly confront her about promoting a confessional victim culture, fearlessly confronting Katie Couric on her show about serving up fluff, or fearlessly confronting Larry King on his show about being a sycophantic celebrity-monger.

    Crossfire is no more responsible for the level of our political discourse than shows like Stewart’s or MTV or the late night shows, which offer politicians a venue to hide with millions watching. Kerry basically refused to take any questions from the press between early August, when the Swift Boat Vets started in on him, and the debates since questions might prove embarrassing. Stewart let him play the game by promenading on The Daily Show, where Kerry was safe. Stewart did ask one question about Christmas in Cambodia as I recall but allowed Kerry to make a joke out of it.

    It’s no defense for Stewart to say “But my show is a comedy show” when he’s offering it to politicians as a vehicle and increasingly using it for propagandizing in one political direction. Both Crossfire and The Daily Show are entertainments (although I don’t find the former entertaining and the latter is increasingly less so). I guess I disagree with Marius basically because I don’t think Stewart’s anger was honest.

  25. I always thought that bumper sticker “kill your TV” was juvenile…Until reading this thread. Now I’m thinking of buying a .357 and pulling an Elvis Presley.

    Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick…how these people can arouse such passions is beyond me.

  26. Stewart let him play the game by promenading on The Daily Show, where Kerry was safe.

    i agree — but stewart made a good point of saying that his show is ultimately judged by whether or not it is funny. (his kerry interview was unsuccessful, as he himself alluded to in other interviews, because it wasn’t particularly funny.)

    a question that should be asked by every viewer, imo, is “what is the success of crossfire judged by?” if one finds oneself answering “by the level of education it conveys”, perhaps one should tune into “fear factor” instead…. 🙂

    anyway, i think we probably agree that there is a fundamental problem in a democracy of how the people are educating themselves at any given time. that either “the daily show” or “crossfire” are really seen as news sources by anyone is a good reason to discount the virtues of mob rule.

  27. Stewart is right, but he does the same thing. That’s all people are willing to put up with from politcians and political television. There is good information for anyone willing to look for it. If you turned Crossfire into “The Economist Hour on CNN,” no one would watch it.

    I read a Karl Rove interview where he said that the undecided voters are accessing huge amounts of information, but that they aren’t retaining any of it. If you made the information more complex, it’s not more likely that more would stick, I don’t think.

  28. 1. Tucker IS a dick. With all apologies to Kevrob, there is NOTHING principled about his conservatism (yes, there ARE principled conservatives). He’s disingenuous, smarmy and plain foolish. (BTW, you forgot Senator Paul Simon and C. Everett Koop. – madpad

    Yes, madpad, I guess I should have used some scare quotes on my description of Tucker. Good catch on those additional Evil Bow Tiesters. Here’s more:

    Gene Shalit
    Gore Vidal
    Charles Osgood

    Kevin

  29. It’ll be worth watching to see if this is something Stewart will get some mileage out of.

    I do have some sympathy for Stewarts position. Tucker to the bait, but he was really casting his net for both of em. I watched a bit of Meet the Press on Sunday, and there was no control. No questions. The answers never addressed the questions. It was a joke.

    Karl Rove’s a weenie. He, just like all political operatives, want the undecideds to stay away, because they represent risk. He won’t mind democrats going to the polls half as much as he does the undecideds.

  30. without lowering myself to your wannabe pseudo intellectual blathering, Vidkun Quisling, i will say this. You are a dick on this message board as much as any other message board. And so is anyone else who would even for a second think of defending someone like Tucker Carlson. And to the people that admit that they don’t watch crossfire but then go on to write multiple paragraphs about what transpires on the show, are you really that stupid? Do you work for the republican party?

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