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On the November 15 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson claimed he had "never seen any evidence that [Sen.] Trent Lott [R-MS] is a racist" and did not mention Lott's history of public statements and actions that have been attacked as racially insensitive and, in several cases, as indicating support for racist entities. Carlson also opined that if one were to consider Lott a "racist," "you could say the same about every man over 60 ... south of the Mason-Dixon Line." Carlson's comments came during a discussion with radio talk-show host Michael Graham about Lott's recent election as Senate minority whip in the 110th Congress.
Carlson's defense of Lott recalls his dubious defenses of others, examples of which Media Matters for America has also noted:
- On the November 14 edition of Tucker, Carlson appeared to defend drunken driving, despite claiming otherwise, by downplaying President Bush's 1976 drunken-driving arrest. Carlson asserted: "[H]is blood alcohol level -- I'm not defending drunk driving, of course -- but, you know, it's not like he was wasted. He -- he wasn't at all. It was like three beers or something."
- On the October 23 edition of Tucker, Carlson repeatedly attempted to justify the Pentagon's decision, in Carlson's words, to "lie" to the family of former pro football player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman about how Tillman died. Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, but the Defense Department strongly suggested that Tillman had been killed by enemy fire, stating only that he died in combat "when his patrol vehicle came under attack." Carlson said that he "understand[s]" "the lie," because "[t]elling the truth actually is difficult. Look, let me speak on behalf of anyone who has ever told a lie. Telling the truth is really hard."
- On the September 18 edition of Tucker, Carlson appeared to defend Sen. George F. Allen (R-VA) over the "macaca" flap by attacking S.R. Sidarth, a volunteer with the campaign of Sen.-elect James Webb (D-VA), as a "whiny little kid." On August 11, Allen was caught on tape addressing Sidarth as "Macaca" and saying to him: "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Macaca is a genus of monkey and is also reportedly a slur used in Europe and North Africa against people of African descent. Sidarth is of Indian descent, but he was reportedly born and raised in Virginia.
- On the September 1 edition of Tucker, Carlson defended Sen. Conrad Burns's (R-MT) statement that terrorists are a "faceless enemy" who "drive taxicabs in the daytime and kill at night," claiming that "there's probably some truth in" Burns's remarks. Carlson asserted Burns was talking about "cab drivers who are sympathetic to terror," "terrorists," and "not ... all taxi drivers." Carlson added: "I think it's funny. He didn't offend me."
From the November 15 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:
CARLSON: Well, wait, wait, wait. But back to what you said. Trent Lott -- I mean, I've never seen any evidence that Trent Lott is a racist. And what has Trent Lott done --
GRAHAM: Oh, absolutely. I mean, first of all -- wait, wait, wait.
Trent Lott ran and worked on campaigns in the 1960s for openly avowed racists. Not a surprise in America in the 1960s, particularly.
CARLSON: In when? In when?
GRAHAM: In the 1960s. Now, I agree with you. But this is what Trent Lott never did.
CARLSON: Forty-two years ago. OK.
GRAHAM: He never said, "I was wrong." He never said, "You know what? The attitudes I grew up with were the wrong attitudes," which is why he had no defense when he said of [late Sen.] Strom Thurmond [SC] that America would have been better off if this unreconstructed segregationist had been president.
CARLSON: Jeez, I don't know. I mean, you could say the same about every man over 60 in -- you know, south of the Mason-Dixon Line.