Tucker Carlson (the bow-tied, adolescent-looking dweeb who formerly hosted shows on CNN and MSNBC) has been filling in as the host of Hannity this week. In case you missed it, on Tuesday, he discussed President Obama’s call to Philadelphia Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie in which the President thanked the Eagles organization for signing Michael Vick and giving him a second chance. In regards to Vick’s treatment of dogs, Carlson opined, “I think, personally, he should have been executed for that.”
First, let’s look at Obama’s phone call, which was the basis for Carlson’s off-the-wall proposed death sentence for Vick. I lean towards thinking it wasn’t the best of ideas to be praising the Eagles for allowing Vick back into the NFL, if for no other reason than it causes a ton of unneeded backlash (see video above). But the timing seems completely out of whack. The Eagles gave Vick this second chance about 16 or so months ago; where was President Obama’s call then? It seems odd to wait until the end of his second season with Philadelphia to place a call.
Now onto the “execution” comment from Carlson. I’ve been checking comment boards from various sites that have stories and video of this, and the consensus is that this was a pretty ridiculous statement, and I am without a doubt part of that majority. I see no reason how Vick’s actions warranted the death penalty. The only good that would have come from it would be the Giants probably would have won the NFC East this year.
I’ll give the obligatory, yet sincere disclaimer that I don’t condone what Vick did with those dogs, and if no NFL team chose to sign him after his release from prison I would have been OK with that.
But execution? If that’s really what Carlson wants, then he’d have to rearrange the whole justice system. If killing dogs gets you executed, then parking in a handicap spot might get you six months in jail; jaywalking would be a $10,000 fine; not having exact change at a toll would get you deported. You get the point. It’s over-the-top nonsense coming from a guy who looks more like he should be tearing your movie tickets rather than talking news.
But it’s so crazy that I had to take a step back and think about my good old communication courses that I took at UMass, which taught me to take just about everything I hear and read in the media with a grain of salt. Fox News didn’t become the #1 rated cable news channel by being predictable and boring. Just like a sitcom or drama on TV, ratings are the bottom line for a news channel.
If Tucker Carlson only said he didn’t like the fact that Obama called the Eagles and left it at that, then Carlson is not making news today and I’m not writing about him. That’s some extra attention for Fox News. See, it worked!
Does Carlson really believe that Michael Vick should have been executed? I say no. But by saying what he did, he’s in the news today. It’s basically shock journalism and it gets people watching and talking. Right now he’s a substitute teacher in a way; he doesn’t have his own show, so his ability to stir the pot like this might be appealing for a cable news channel to bring him in full time for his own gig.
I will go as far as saying that Tucker Carlon’s whole persona—the bow tie, the irritating nerdiness, and statements like this—are a calculated move on his part to create a unique niche in the cable news landscape.
So before anyone gets up in arms over what he said about Michael Vick, keep in mind that Fox News is in the business of getting ratings and making money (as is MSNBC, to be fair), so more often than not entertainment value trumps logic.
UPDATE TO ORIGINAL POST: On second viewing of the video clip, I see that Carlson was not wearing his signature bow tie, which puts a couple of holes in my argument. Damn you, Tucker Carlson!