Why Did The New York Times Call The Daily Caller “Moderate”?

Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

The New York Times described The Daily Caller, the right-wing website run by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, as “relatively moderate.” If The New York Times believes The Daily Caller to be “relatively moderate,” anti-Semitic, sexist, racist, anti-LGBT commentary must be what passes for moderation in the right-wing media sphere these days.

In a report on the future of Fox’s prime-time lineup, the Times noted that Carlson will take over the 7 p.m. slot once held by Greta Van Susteren’s On The Record. The article labeled Carlson’s website The Daily Caller “a provocative, if relatively moderate, right-leaning website”:

As Fox faces competition from scrappier rivals like Breitbart News, Mr. Carlson, 47, is in some ways a throwback to a more genteel era of conservatism. Preppy and jovial, Mr. Carlson founded The Daily Caller, a provocative, if relatively moderate, right-leaning website, and he has often evinced a mischievous streak; in 2006, he agreed to be a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars,” although he was eliminated in the first round.

Carlson has, both in print and on air, regularly promoted a conservative brand of commentary laced with misogyny, misinformation, and factually inaccurate attacks, which The Daily Caller has reflected.

The Daily Caller once published a piece with a headline so offensive (“Kill All The Jews And When That Is Done Kill Those That Refused To Defend Them”) that Carlson had to blame it on the editor being “hungover” before updating the article with a different headline. This anti-Semitic offense was not an unusual move for the Caller, which has repeatedly quoted a Holocaust denier

One would need to go back only a couple of weeks to find the Caller rewriting a heart-wrenching op-ed about a woman’s decision to terminate a wanted pregnancy after 20 weeks, when she discovered that the developing fetus “was missing half his heart” and “very unlikely [to] survive delivery.” The Caller “edited” it with stigmatizing language to shame the woman for receiving necessary medical care. In one part, it “revised” the woman’s statement about the “well of [her] grief” over the termination to read (emphasis original): “I wanted him to know [before I killed him] how important he was to me, that the well of my grief and love for him would stretch deeper and deeper into the vastness of our family’s small yet limitless life.”

The Daily Caller captioned a video of American Indian Movement protesters hit by a car, “White man overruns indigenous peoples with superior technology” (since changed). It referred to Obama as “wife beater” in another headline because his sleeveless undershirt was visible through his white dress shirt. It published an op-ed praising Russia’s extreme anti-LGBT “gay propaganda” laws, which were condemned by human rights experts for violating international human rights law and essentially criminalizing homosexuality. And the outlet promoted a hoax birther story that former Democratic Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said there was “absolutely no proof at all that [Barack Obama] was born in Hawaii.” Abercrombie did not make those comments.

In 2014, former Daily Caller reporter Patrick Howley launched a series of sexist attacks about “pumping” BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray, for which Carlson had to publicly apologize. The Caller also baselessly claimed that former Miss Universe Alicia Machado was a “porn star campaign[ing] for Hillary Clinton,” even though Machado has never appeared in porn.

The Daily Caller throws climate change denial into its mix of “relatively moderate” coverage (the polar bears are “doing just fine”) and tops it off with an opinion page ripe with conspiracy theories (Is the government planning “to kill 174,000 of the nation’s military and replace them with Department of Homeland Security … forces loyal to the Administration?”). If this is what is considered moderate in right-wing media today, there may be too few lines left to cross.

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