Carlson claimed he was "not defending" people who were "spooked" by Muslims praying in airport; then defended them
Research ››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE
Discussing six Muslim men who were removed from an airplane in Minnesota after other passengers saw them praying in the terminal prior to boarding, Tucker Carlson claimed that he was "not defending" the fact that the praying "freaked people out," but then quickly added that "they were doing something other people didn't understand, and it spooked the other people."
On the November 21 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, during a segment about the removal of six Muslim men from an airplane in Minnesota after other passengers saw the men praying in the terminal prior to boarding, host Tucker Carlson claimed that he was "not defending" the fact that the praying "freaked people out," but then quickly added that "they were doing something other people didn't understand, and it spooked the other people." Carlson then asked his guest, Arsalan Iftikhar of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, "don't you understand how that could happen?" As Media Matters for America has noted, Carlson has in numerous instances denied that he was defending someone while making comments in that person's defense. For example, on the November 14 edition of Tucker, while discussing George W. Bush's 1976 arrest for drunken driving, he said: "I'm not defending drunk driving, of course -- but, you know, it's not like he was wasted."
Additionally, on the November 22 edition of Tucker, Carlson repeated a baseless claim he has made before about incoming Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-MS), saying "I don't think Trent Lott -- I don't think there is anything in his record to suggest that he is a racist." Previously, as Media Matters has noted, Carlson claimed he had "never seen any evidence that Trent Lott is a racist." In both cases, Carlson failed to 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.
From the November 21 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:
CARLSON: I feel sorry for these guys, sounds like they didn't do anything wrong. They got caught up in other people's concerns. They were victims. I'll concede that right from the outset. But here's what I don't understand. It's the use of this sad event as a political tool by the organized Islamic community that, I suppose, bothers me. Americans ought to be vigilant. They ought to be reporting things that seem out of the ordinary in airports and on airplanes. That keeps us safe. And I think groups like yours are trying to convince people they have no right to do that.
IFTIKHAR: Well, I think, Tucker, that this incident in Minnesota highlights the racial profiling and "flying while Muslim" phenomenon that we've seen for the last five years, where American Muslims, who are lawful, peaceful, law-abiding citizens of the United States, have been disparately caught up in the fear and stereotyping that unfortunately has become pervasive in our society. And I think that, you know, just like you said, you know, these six imams were not guilty of anything. And I think that it shows the American public that, you know, this is something that we really do need to address. You know, obviously security concerns are a --
CARLSON: I don't know what you're talking about. Wait a second. I know Muslim groups always make it sound like, you know, we live in a fascist country that hates Muslims. Actually, we live in a very tolerant country. I know that it's popular to be anti-American, but the truth is, most Americans are really sort of open-minded and there isn't a lot of racial profiling going on. I don't know what you're talking about. I know you've got a vested interest in claiming there is, but I don't think you're right.
IFTIKHAR: Well, I mean, you know, the concept of racial profiling didn't begin yesterday, Tucker. You know, African-American males have been pulled over disparately more than Caucasian males and, you know, the whole adage of "driving while black" was the racial-profiling adage during the 1980s. And now the millennial version of that has become "flying while brown" or "flying while Muslim."
CARLSON: Oh, what a -- that's such a crock. I mean that is -- I fly -- you know, I fly more than anybody I know, practically. There are always people from south Asia and the Middle East on planes I fly. Nobody says anything. These guys were praying, standing up praying, and it freaked people out. I'm not defending that. I'm merely saying it's not just that they were brown or looked Muslim, they were doing something other people didn't understand, and it spooked the other people. I mean, don't you understand how that could happen?
From the November 22 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:
REV. AL SHARPTON: [Rep.] Alcee Hastings [D-FL] is the ranking member there [on the House Intelligence Committee]. The rules say the ranking member ought to have the committee. He has the expertise. He has the background. He sat on that committee. He is next in line. I think for her to do anything other than that would be to change the rules on how the House is enacted.
CARLSON: But he was impeached and removed from a federal judgeship. Kind of a big deal, or something we should forget?
SHARPTON: And he was -- and after that time there was questions about that impeachment. But after that time he was elected by the people in Florida and re-elected several times and has served admirably. Now, since you want to bring that up, how do you feel about Trent Lott, that said a segregationist should have been president, and had he been elected, we wouldn't have problems anymore, becoming the number two man in the Republican Party in the Senate? Since you're asking questions off the issue, how do you feel about that, Tucker?
CARLSON: Oh, the poor Republican Party. I feel so sorry for them.
SHARPTON: Are you ducking the question, Tucker?
CARLSON: Oh, I'm not ducking the question. I don't -- you know, I don't know if it's politically smart or not. I don't think Trent Lott -- I don't think there is anything in his record to suggest that he is a racist. I think actually --
SHARPTON: What about his statement?
CARLSON: He came out -- he now celebrates Kwanzaa, actually, every year ever since then, just to show he's not a racist.
SHARPTON: But what about his statement? His statement, you would deny, is a racist statement?
CARLSON: No, it was an absurd statement. And I can't believe --
SHARPTON: No, was it racist? Was it racist?
CARLSON: -- anybody would get up in public and say, "I support segregation." I just don't believe that's what he was saying. That's so demented. If he was saying that, then he has no place in public life.
SHARPTON: Well, he said that he wished that [the late Sen.] Strom Thurmond [SC] had won. And he said if he had won, we wouldn't be having these problems today. I guess one of the problems we wouldn't be having is things like Al Sharpton talking to Tucker Carlson.