Tucker Carlson’s prostitution problem

Tucker Carlson burst onto the CNN airwaves in the mid 1990s. A cherubic fresh-faced conservative whose main purpose seemed to be laying up easy shots for the liberal pundits.

Then Carlson’s star faded with his boyish good looks. His career on CNN came to an abrupt close after Jon Stewart roasted him on Crossfire. By then, the Conservative movement was concentrated on bilking angry white males with overpriced investments in gold coins. The conservative noise machine had no use for the frivolous bow-tie-clad pundit, preferring female shock pundits who were easy on the eye.

Most conservative pundits can rely on ‘wingnut welfare’, the funds that Scaife, the Koch brothers and other billionaires provide to those who sing the praises of parasites like themselves. But Carlson had made himself apostate during the George W. Bush administration. Carlson’s account of Bush mocking the execution of Karla Faye Tucker gave the world a pre-election insight into a sick mind the Bush campaign was desperate to hide.

Tucker Carlson by Gage Skidmore.

Tucker Carlson by Gage Skidmore.

By the end of the Bush administration there was no space left for Carlson in the world of cable news. Too much of a lightweight for CNN and MSNBC, and not quite talented enough to claim a spot as a regular Fox News anchor. With no front-rank anchor seat on offer, Carlson started his own outlet, The Daily Caller, which was originally positioned as a right-leaning alternative to The Huffington Post.

Following the death of conservative activist Andrew Breitbart in March 2012, The Daily Caller made a concerted bid to replace him in the yellow journalism stakes. A few months after Breitbart’s death, Daily Caller “journalist” Neil Munro interrupted the President during a press conference for no apparent reason other than demonstrating his hostility.

It takes more than being rude to grab Brietbart’s crown, however. Last November, the Daily Caller claimed that Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) had slept with three prostitutes while visiting the Dominican Republic. The allegations were repeated ad-nauseam in typical right-wing echo chamber fashion, which some might have considered rather odd given Carlson’s earlier opinion on whether a Senator consorting with prostitutes was a legitimate news story:

CARLSON: I wish David Vitter were a Democrat. I wish he were a liberal Democrat. I wish he were Russ Feingold, because then I would defend him every bit as zealously as I am defending not what David Vitter did, but his right to be unbothered by the rest of us for something that`s none of our business.

Go read the whole thing on Digby. This might count as a dramatic reverse of principles, but Carlson has finally learned that you have to check your principles at the door before the movement conservative club lets you inside.

Now this might have simply remained an example of how the GOP propaganda machine works, but it then became something else entirely as the Daily Caller’s story fell apart.

First one, and then all three, of the prostitutes said that they had been paid to lie about having sex with Menendez. None of the women had even met him. But Carlson stood by his story, refusing to allow it to be spoiled by such a little thing as evidence showing it to be a fraud. And then last week, Melanio Figueroa, the Dominican lawyer at the center of the scandal, not only said that he had paid the women to lie, but claimed that he had been paid $5,000 by the Daily Caller to do so.

Carlson has naturally taken great great offense at the suggestion he would have fabricated the story. There is of course only the word of a self-confessed liar against his. Then again, Carlson does not appear to notice the irony in the fact that for three months he was loudly telling the world that the word of Figueroa, the self-confessed lliar, and three prostitutes was more credible than the word of a US senator. But now that Carlson’s name is being dragged through the mud, suddenly Figueroa’s word is of no account.  Funny how things change.

In the end, the story is about prostitution — just not the type that involves sex.

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