Tucker Carlson once criticized calling "your opponents ... racists," now uses word to describe Sotomayor

››› ››› NATHAN TABAK

Tucker Carlson has stated that Sonia Sotomayor made a "racist statement" in a 2001 speech and suggested that she might be a "racist kook." On Crossfire in 2002, Carlson stated that "dismissing your opponents by calling them racists and bigots" is "name calling" and "beneath contempt."

Following President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson has stated that Sotomayor made a "racist statement" in a 2001 speech and suggested that she might be a "racist kook." But Carlson previously criticized the use of the term "racist" as an attack against political opponents. On a 2002 broadcast of CNN's Crossfire, Media Matters for America senior researcher Eric Hananoki, before his employment at Media Matters, was in the audience and asked Carlson whether "it hurts conservatives to associate themselves ... with people like Ann Coulter who routinely make bigoted and racist comments." Carlson responded in part by stating that "dismissing your opponents by calling them racists and bigots" -- which he described as "what many Democrats do reflexively" -- is "name calling" and "beneath contempt."

From the June 27, 2002, edition of CNN's Crossfire [transcript from CNN.com]:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. This question is for Mr. Carlson. Do you think it hurts conservatives to associate themselves with women or people actually -- like people like Ann Coulter who routinely make bigoted and racist comments in her column? And my name is Eric Anokee (ph). I'm from Honolulu, Hawaii.

CARLSON: That's great, Eric. I'm not a -- I'm not familiar with the bigoted and racist comments. I do -- that you refer to -- I doubt they exist. But I would say Ann Coulter has one good point. I think she's a little over the top sometimes -- but that dismissing your opponents by calling them racists and bigots, which is what many Democrats do reflexively, that is not argument, that is name calling. I think it's beneath contempt.

CARVILLE: We like name calling on CROSSFIRE.

As Media Matters noted, on the May 26 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk, Carlson distorted a comment Sotomayor made during a 2001 speech at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law, stating that she had said that "because of your race or gender, you're a better or worse judge; that female, Latina judges are likely to render wiser decisions than white male judges." Carlson continued, "That's a racist statement, by any calculation."

Additionally, in a June 1 washingtonpost.com online discussion, Carlson said of Sotomayor's comment, "Sotomayor said something stupid. It might just be easier to apologize for it." After a questioner criticized Carlson for calling Sotomayor's remark "stupid" and stated that Carlson had taken Sotomayor's statement out of context, Carlson responded: "I think 'stupid' was a charitable description, since it suggests her wording was unintentional. If that's precisely what she meant to say, she's a racist kook and ought to step down from the bench right now. But I'm giving her every benefit of every doubt."

From the washingtonpost.com discussion:

Alabama: Tucker, have you now watched or read the remarks of [Supreme Court Justice Samuel] Alito since they were brought to your attention on Fox yesterday? If so, wanna explain the difference?

Tucker Carlson: Of all the talking points partisans are instructed to repeat during nomination fights, this is among the all-time lamest: Alito did it too. First of all, it's false. Alito never claimed that growing up Italian made him a better judge than, say, your average black woman. But even if he had some something that stupid (and I would have opposed seating him if he had) what's the point? That Obama has nominated someone every bit as mediocre as Bush did? Not much of a defense.

Sotomayor said something stupid. It might just be easier to apologize for it.

Happy Monday by the way.

[...]

Sigh...: Mr, Carlson, sigh. After I just commended you for being civil, you now call one of Judge Sotomayor's comments "stupid." Just as the right did with Pastor Wright, you all are taking her quote out of context. She was merely saying that having experienced discrimination herself, that she would have a better perspective on discrimination than white males. She NEVER said she was "better" than white males.

Ana Marie Cox: I'm gonna defend Tucker's right to call her comment "stupid," if only because I think we can all agree that her life would be easier if she had made her point using a different set of words. Words more like yours, Sigh.

That said, I do think what you say here IS what she meant, and the only criticism she deserves for not being especially far-sighted in how her words might be interpreted. Which is, when you think about it, an important skill in a judge.

Tucker Carlson: Have you read her comments? I have, and in context. She said that her "physiology" as a Latina gave her wisdom superior to that of the average white man. Which means....what? Latinas have bigger brains?

I think "stupid" was a charitable description, since it suggests her wording was unintentional. If that's precisely what she meant to say, she's a racist kook and ought to step down from the bench right now. But I'm giving her every benefit of every doubt.

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