Following an August 28 segment on MSNBC's Live with Dan Abrams, during which MSNBC host Tucker Carlson admitted to assaulting an individual who "bothered" him in a restroom in Washington, D.C., Abrams, host and MSNBC's general manager, did not mention Carlson's comments on his program the following night, and MSNBC management apparently has not yet made a statement regarding Carlson's comments. Indeed, the cable network has replayed portions of the segment three times, highlighting Carlson's account of having been "bothered" in a restroom, but cropping out the part in which Carlson said, "I went back with someone I knew and grabbed the guy by the -- you know, and grabbed him, and ... [h]it him against the stall with his head." On the August 30 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough also referred to Carlson's claim of having been "bothered" in the men's room, but did not mention that Carlson "went back with someone," even though Scarborough was a guest on Abrams' show when Carlson recounted the alleged high school incident. During the August 28 show, laughter can be heard in the background as Carlson tells Scarborough and Abrams about the incident.
On August 29, Carlson issued the following statement through an MSNBC spokeswoman:
Let me be clear about an incident I referred to on MSNBC last night: In the mid-1980s, while I was a high school student, a man physically grabbed me in a men's room in Washington, DC. I yelled, pulled away from him and ran out of the room. Twenty-five minutes later, a friend of mine and I returned to the men's room. The man was still there, presumably waiting to do to someone else what he had done to me. My friend and I seized the man and held him until a security guard arrived.
Several bloggers have characterized this is a sort of gay bashing. That's absurd, and an insult to anybody who has fought back against an unsolicited sexual attack. I wasn't angry with the man because he was gay. I was angry because he assaulted me.
Media Matters for America has found no statement from MSNBC management regarding either Carlson's claim to having assaulted the man who "bothered" him, or of the apparent laughter of Abrams and Scarborough. The only statement to come from MSNBC was the one Carlson released on August 29, noted above. The New York Post and the New York Daily News both discussed Carlson's initial claims in August 29 and 30 articles, respectively, as well as his subsequent statement, but neither contained an official response from MSNBC.
According to a statement posted on its website, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) "called Abrams' office to discuss NBC News and MSNBC's response to Carlson's behavior" and "Abrams' office responded with an e-mailed statement attributed to Carlson" -- the August 29 statement.
As Media Matters noted, during the August 28 show, Carlson asserted, "Having sex in a public men's room is outrageous. It's also really common. I've been bothered in men's rooms." Carlson continued, "I got bothered in Georgetown Park," in Washington, D.C., "when I was in high school." When Abrams asked how Carlson responded to being "bothered," Carlson stated: "I went back with someone I knew and grabbed the guy by the -- you know, and grabbed him, and ... [h]it him against the stall with his head, actually."
During the August 30 edition of Morning Joe, while transitioning from a discussion of copycat suicide attempts to the upcoming season of ABC's Dancing With the Stars -- on which Carlson once competed -- Scarborough said, "No, of course, I would never talk about Tucker. If I'm talking about Tucker, I'm going to talk about that Georgetown bathroom incident ... but I won't go there right now." While Time.com Washington editor Ana Marie Cox and MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall reacted audibly to Scarborough's comment, no one mentioned that the "Georgetown bathroom incident" involved Carlson's August 28 on-air comments that he assaulted a man who he said "bothered" him in a public restroom.
On August 29, MSNBC re-aired portions of the segment from Live with Dan Abrams at least three times -- during the 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. ET hours -- but none included an official statement from MSNBC regarding Carlson's claim to have assaulted someone. While all three August 29 re-airings did include Carlson's claim that he had been "bothered in men's rooms," none of the broadcasts aired the portion in which Carlson claimed that he "went back with someone" and "[h]it him against the stall with his head." The re-airings did include a portion of the segment in which Carlson said: "I'm not anti-gay in the slightest."
During the 9 a.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live, anchor Amy Robach introduced the Abrams/Carlson clip as follows: "Prominent Republicans have been quick to distance themselves from Idaho Senator Larry Craig following his arrest for lewd behavior in a men's bathroom. ... More than ever, the party of traditional values has to worry about hypocrisy. Dan Abrams talked about it with Tucker Carlson and Joe Scarborough last night on MSNBC." After the clip ended, Robach plugged Abrams' show: "Well, you can catch Live with Dan Abrams weeknights at 9 p.m. Eastern here on MSNBC."
During the subsequent re-airing of the clip during the 11 a.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live, anchor Monica Novotny introduced the video clip by asserting, "Craig's denials are drawing some comparisons to another famous D.C. sex scandal -- the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. Senator Craig had quite a bit to say about that back in the '90s." Novotny added, "Just a word of warning here, you may find out a little more about Tucker, well, than you ever wanted to know," apparently referring to Carlson's assertion that he'd "been bothered in men's rooms." However, despite that reference, the 4-minute and 35-second clip Novotny aired ended before Carlson claimed to have assaulted the person who "bothered" him. Novotny also ended the segment by plugging Abrams' show, asserting, "And you can catch Dan tonight at 9 on Live with Dan Abrams right here on MSNBC." That segment was identical to the one MSNBC Live re-aired during its 1 p.m. ET broadcast.
From the 6 a.m. ET hour of the August 30 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
SCARBOROUGH: Dancing With the Stars -- speaking of sunshine at night. It's happy. Let's go from suicide to Dancing With the Stars, which I've seen, you know, some of the dance routines that made me want to commit suicide.
HALL: Are you talking about Tucker's dance routines?
SCARBOROUGH: No, of course, I would never talk about Tucker. If I'm talking about Tucker, I'm going to talk about that Georgetown bathroom incident --
HALL: Ooh, no.
SCARBOROUGH: -- but I won't go there right now.