Tucker Carlson sets a new standard!


The dumbest report of all time: We’ve seen a lot of dumb cable “news” segments. Who hasn't?

On Monday evening, Tucker Carlson’s segment on the O’Reilly Factor may have been the dumbest of all time.

This was also Mr. O’s fault, but Tucker took the cake. He was discussing a hapless report at his web site, The Daily Caller, about the workings of Media Matters.

Mr. O established the fact that the whole report was done through unnamed sources. (They’re also unnumbered. Assuming these sources really exist, there may only be two.) At that point, Tucker began to complain about Media Matters. But what was his complaint?
O'REILLY (2/13/12): I just wanted to point out that they are unnamed sources. OK, let's get to the headlines. MSNBC, you say in your reporting, is pretty much taking what Media Matters puts out, and what Media Matters does is propaganda.


O'REILLY: And they're taking it, and they're basically throwing it on NBC's air without any kind of fact-check on whether it's true or not. They just take it and throw it on the air.

CARLSON: The line that we had from someone who worked at Media Matters for a long time was, and I'm quoting now, "We basically write their prime time. Anything we write, particularly anything that pertains to Fox News." And a lot of what Media Matters writes does pertain to Fox News, they run it basically verbatim.
So far, an obvious question hadn’t been asked: Has MSNBC been running reports from Media Matters which turn out to be inaccurate? Claims of “propaganda” to the side, it’s hard to see what the problem is if a news org runs material which is actually accurate.

Why wouldn’t you use a report by Media Matters if the report was accurate? Isn’t this how news works?

So far, the complaint didn’t quite make sense. But uh-oh! As the segment went on and on, Tucker never cited a single report by Media Matters which turned out to be wrong! He named a lot of journalists who were said to be shills for Media Matters. But what had these journalists ever written that turned out to be wrong?

No examples were given. Good grief! Not even one!

Tucker Carlson went on and on with his naming of names. It never seemed to enter his head that he might want to claim that the people he named have been getting things wrong. We sense there’s plenty of room in that head—but this rather basic thought didn’t seem to intrude.

Incredible! Through the lengthy name-naming segment, Carlson never cited a single thing Media Matters ever got wrong! We were somehow supposed to be outraged that the organization exists. In the next segment, Bernie Goldberg's review of this matter made much more sense, though we didn’t even see the ultimate logic in what he said:
GOLDBERG (2/13/12): When mainstream journalists write things that—about you or me or anybody else on this network, if it comes from Media Matters, if it's totally true, then I have no problem. But what about when it's half-true or totally false?


GOLDBERG: You raise an interesting point about is there something on the other side. Look, on the right, there's the Media Research Center. They do God's work when it comes to exposing liberal media bias. Nobody is better. But they do go deaf, dumb and blind when it comes to exposing conservative bias.
Bernie made several sensible points. He doesn’t care if it comes from Media Matters “if it’s totally true,” he said. He failed to note that Carlson had cited no errors by Media Matters—none at all.

Later, Bernie noted that the Media Research Center is ideologically one-sided, much like Media Matters. The MRC goes after the left; Media Matters goes after the right. As he continued, Bernie complained about this arrangement, saying he would like to have a single org which went after the right and the left.

We’d like to find gold coins out in the woods. But if the two different groups did accurate work, this would be a useful system.

So how about it? Does Media Matters do accurate work? (The MRC is often terrible.) In two segments on this topic, not one single error was cited. And no one seemed to notice the fact that this lapse had occurred.

We’ve seen a lot of dumb cable segments. On Monday night, Tucker Carlson may have set a new standard.


  1. Media Matters is somtimes sloppy and/or biased. Here's an example pointed out by liberal blogger Brendan Nyhan.

    IMHO bias may be the greater problem. E.g., MM gives much more attention to false beliefs mostly held by conservatives than to false beliefs mostly held by liberals. E.g., they focus more on "birthers" than on "9/11 truthers". That's OK if one also reads other sites to learn about liberals' false beliefs.

    However, if a TV station picks up MM's reports and not the corresponding conservative reports, their viewers are apt to be misled into thinking that false beliefs are mostly held by conservatives.

    1. Repeating right wing propaganda and lies in an effort to be "balanced" is a problem.

      A lie is never the equivalent of the truth.

      For instance, should Sean Hannity's lie that Obama never wanted to go after OBL be taken seriously?

      No, not when the very same Hannity, during the 2008 campaign, claimed Obama wanted to invade an "ally" when Obama stated his intention to act unilaterally on actionable intelligence concerning OBL if Pakistan wouldn't.

      Thanks to Media Matters for trying to keep the liars honest!

      And thanks to Obama for doing exactly what he said he would despite the contortions of the wingnuts.

    2. I agree that Sean Hannity is not to be taken seriously. MM does deserve credit for debunking Hannity.

      However, Obama didn't always do exactly what he said he would. E.g., he said he would cut the federal deficit to $650 billion, but it remains stuck at around double that figure.

    3. First off, why would anyone assume those advocating for further investigation into 9/11, or even claiming that the government was behind it all are necessarily liberals? I've seen enough "9/11 truther" material on Right-wing Libertarian forums to make that blanket generalization seem like its own fantasy.

      Second, at no time did the 9/11 truth movement receive the level of mainstream media attention or access to a national platform (e.g. - Fox News) that the "birther" nonsense did.

      As false equivalences go, that one's a doozy. Why wouldn't Media Matters have focused more on "birther" BS than the 9/11 truth nuttery in light of those facts?

    4. You're way off topic again, as usual.

      Sean Hannity has the #2 most listened to talk radio program and the #2 most watched show on FOX.

      That's a lot of people watching and listening. You can spend 4 hours a day listening to this right wing propagandist.

      Care to extrapolate a bit about the quality of information his large audience is getting and why any of it should be treated credibly to provide "balance"?

    5. Um, maybe he didn't cut the deficit by that much because that's not how economics works? And maybe he promised more than he could deliver because Americans (especially in the media) are too dumb and incurious to know that?

      It's like that column where Christy Romer remembers the time she was told that she had to publicly say that the Treasury Department works toward a strong dollar, even though she, since she's an economist, knew that the strength of a dollar depended on the market and that a strong dollar isn't always desirable. But instead of educating people, she and the other economists who worked with her chose to just say what people wanted to hear.

      I blame Obama for a lot of promises not kept (like ENDA, still pissed about that one), but the deficit? It's not like Congress wanted to reduce it, or the economy is doing well enough to reduce it through cutting spending, or a tax hike on the rich would actually pass, or the US's trade deficit has been completely closed, etc. Dude's not a dictator.

    6. Hahaha! A Nyhan post from *2005* is the best you could come up with on MM?

      My question is whether anyone has ever found a single instance of a major MM error or falsehood. For all the screaming and yelling about it on the right, and particularly Fox, I've yet to hear of a single thing they've done "wrong" other than target right-wing crapolo for exposure.

      Shall we contrast that to, say, Breitbart or that O'Keefe creature he spawned?

  2. Yes, MMFA does accurate work.
    However, they tend to find fault with every word out of Rush, Faux News, Glenn Beck, etc.
    Some of their criticism is not newsworthy, it is just red meat for liberals.

    It's sort of like the Obamaphobes declaiming that everything that comes from Washington is micromanaged by Barack Obama and is invariably bad for business, bad for the future of the country, and unconstitutional.

    To DinC:

    In a survey taken in July 2010, 18% percent of respondents believed the federal government assisted or took no action to prevent the 9/11 attacks in order to enable the war in the Middle East.
    22% believed a spacecraft from another planet crashed in Roswell, NM in 1947.
    it’s comforting to know that.


  3. While I'm glad he is turning some of his attention to Fox (it's only fair, they're the front runner), he still displays his rather strange soft spot for Bill O'Reilly. Should that "also Mr. O's fault" be "Mostly Mr. O's Fault? Who's show is it? Who's in the position to ask for examples?
    O'Reilly (and I admit, it's been awhile since I watched) ROUTINELY brushes aside example of HORRIBLE conduct on the right ( Coulter on the 9-11 Wives, for instance) by claiming "the left is vicious" leaving the discriminating viewer at home to mummer "examples please" in vain. Thing is, if a lefty said something like jersey girls were glad there husbands got killed in 9-11, said lefty would have no career. But Coulter is invited back on all these shows....
    We see this soft spot emerge in recent weeks when The Daily Howler noted (I would assume correctly) that Mr. O was fair in the matters of Love Story and Love Cannel. But as I recall, during that whole period O'Reilly was demanding Janet Reno indite Gore, on totally absurd grounds.
    It seems to me the late Tony Blankley was at least as fair minded a righty as O'Reilly ever was, yet The Daily Howler wanted O'Donnell's hide for being nice to him for about two minutes. These standards of right wing toleration seem pretty arbitrary.

  4. In my opinion Media Matters primarily offers video clips, radio talk show and interview snippets, as well as a few examples of reporting. Its targets have a hard time claiming they did not say what they actually said.

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