Yahoo News' Michael Calderone yesterday reported that Tucker Carlson, editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller, sent phony emails to a Philadelphia journalist in which he pretended to be MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. In the emails, Carlson -- as Olbermann -- insulted MSNBC management and boasted that he "could have [MSNBC president] Phil Griffin fired tomorrow if I felt like it, trust me." After the emails were published, Carlson admitted sending them, telling Calderone: "Could you resist? It was just too funny. The flesh is weak."
Right... who among us hasn't had the urge to jeopardize what journalistic credibility we have by setting up a phony email account to make an ideological opponent look bad? I don't know if the flesh is weak, but the character certainly is.
But what's interesting to me is that Carlson, when not forging emails, fancies himself an arbiter of good journalistic practice. You might recall that The Daily Caller enjoyed a brief moment of near-relevance earlier this year when they published selected excerpts of Ezra Klein's Journolist email listserv. After pumping out a series of misleading and pointless stories alleging a vast left-wing conspiracy, Carlson posted his own thoughts on the Journolist flap, accompanied by perhaps the largest headshot known to man:
There have, however, been two lines of argument that we probably ought to respond to, if only because they may harden into received wisdom if we don't. The first is that our pieces have proved only that liberal journalists have liberal views, and that's hardly news.
To be clear: We're not contesting the right of anyone, journalist or not, to have political opinions. (I, for one, have made a pretty good living expressing mine.) What we object to is partisanship, which is by its nature dishonest, a species of intellectual corruption. Again and again, we discovered members of Journolist working to coordinate talking points on behalf of Democratic politicians, principally Barack Obama. That is not journalism, and those who engage in it are not journalists. They should stop pretending to be. The news organizations they work for should stop pretending, too.
So "partisanship" of the type allegedly shown by the Journolist non-conspirators disqualifies one from being a journalist, but what about sending unflattering emails in someone else's name? I guess that's just human nature -- after all, "could you resist?"
The irony here is that Carlson told Calderone that "he didn't expect the email exchange to be published." I guess now he knows what it's like to be a Journolister.
- Tucker Carlson