Sunday, March 19, 2006

It's about ethics, Tucker

The headline on Tucker Carlson's latest MSNBC blog post is truly appropriate:
A nasty little propagandist (Tucker Carlson)

Yes, he is.

Oh, but like all good conservatives, it turns out he's projecting, this time in Arianna Huffington's direction:
Liberal columnist Arianna Huffington wrote a blog attacking me for not revealing that my father has given money to Scooter Libby's legal defense fund. Her points were absurd, her tone was nasty. The fact that she dragged a member of my family into it made me red-in-the-face mad. I would have loved the chance to tell her this in person, and we tried. Unfortunately, a few hours ago a woman who identified herself as Arianna's quote, "chief of staff" informed us that Huffington would not be coming on the show tonight. That's a shame.

What's even more of a shame is that Carlson couldn't bring himself to follow the basic ethics of blogging and actually link to Arianna's post so that readers could go see for themselves just what it was Arianna wrote. But no, we're supposed to be content with Tucker's characterization of things:
Arianna could have criticized my views about Scooter Libby. That would have been fair. But she didn't. In fact, she didn't bother even to address them. Instead she went immediately for the most personal of attacks, dragging a member of my family into it. As if my father is responsible for what I believe.

Well, since Tucker won't do it, here's Arianna's post. The basic gist of it, as you can see, is that as a journalist, Carlson has an ethical obligation to explain the potential conflict of interest to his audience. And the involvement of Carlson's father with Lewis Libby's defense rather readily falls into that category, as Arianna explained:
But with all he's had to say about the case, there is one thing that Tucker Carlson has failed to mention: That his father, Richard Carlson, is on the advisory committee of the Libby Legal Defense Trust, the GOP-heavy-hitter-laden group that has so far raised $2 million.

Indeed, Richard Carlson was the Early Money Is Like Yeast of Libby defense fund-raisers, having couriered a check to Libby's home the morning he was indicted.

And Tucker Carlson's connection to Libby's defense fund isn't just familial. A quick scan of the Libby website shows that Scooter's high-powered pals appreciate the things that Richard's boy is saying.

In a section titled "What You Aren't Hearing About Scooter Libby," a cobbled version of Tucker Carlson's "What the hell is this investigation about" quote is prominently displayed, just under pro-Libby blurbs from President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

But while Carlson has mentioned the legal defense fund on the air and on his blog (including chiding Cheney for not donating to it), he hasn't seen fit to offer up an "in the interest of full disclosure" type disclaimer. Speaking of which: In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Richard Carlson for a number of years, and have always found him to be a very charming and gracious man. In fact, he's blogged on the Huffington Post. And if he wants to give his money to Scooter Libby, that's certainly his right.

See, Tucker, transparency is as easy as that.

Of course, I'm not telling Tucker Carlson anything he doesn't already know. In fact, during a recent debate with Eric Alterman at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Carlson said, "[News outlets] should not allow reporters to cover things where their interests are at stake." Their interests? Their fathers' interests? Their children's interests? Bottom line: it's so easy to be above board and up front about these things. And it's so important, especially for someone like Tucker who doesn't just toe the Republican Party line -- including on big issues like the war in Iraq.

Guys like Carlson, who have never been actual working journalists but have sprung, like bowtied Venuses from the warped Rovian half-shell, seemingly whole at birth onto the stage of national political punditry, don't understand such things as journalistic ethics, though.

Carlson might want, every once in awhile, to actually read Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, which might give some clues about the basic standards of behavior of those of us working the craft. Especially these clauses:
Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.

Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.

Disclose unavoidable conflicts.

It's truly amazing how journalists like Carlson, unburdened by the weight of ethics, quickly make themselves out to be martyrs at the hands of those nasty liberals when actually confronted about it.

Unless ethics have suddenly become equated with liberalism, that's not exactly Carlson's problem.

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