This week, Washington Post media columnist Erik Wemple appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, Tucker Carlson’s Inexplicable Tenth Shot At Hosting A Cable News Show.
The appearance did not go great for Wemple, as you can see here, if you really must:
In a blog post today, Wemple provides background and (righteously) castigates Carlson for, among other things, inviting him on the show under false pretenses, refusing to provide context to passages of Wemple’s work that he quoted, and generally setting up Wemple for an ambush.
Carlson’s line of attack against Wemple—that he’s a lapdog for his employers and scared to criticize the Washington Post—is patently untrue, and, as Wemple points out, rich coming from an ostensible journalist who is on the record forbidding his own reporters and journalists from criticizing Fox News.
Of course, Tucker Carlson knows that. He knows he is being both dishonest and incredibly hypocritical, and that the evidence of his hypocrisy and dishonesty is incredibly easy to find. He also doesn’t care!
Wemple, a smart man who knows how the political media works just about as well as anyone else currently in the business, also understands all of this, and probably knew even before he arrived that he was being set up, even if he didn’t know the specifics of Carlson’s line of attack:
So this was purposely deceptive ambush journalism. So what?! From watching a great deal of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” it’s clear that blindsiding his guests and keeping them from issuing fully formed answers is the official MO. Plus, this blog has been critical of Carlson’s work, both at the Daily Caller and at Fox News. There was no question that he was using the smokescreen of a vague topic to blast away at the Erik Wemple Blog. Deal with it.
Yes, deal with it!
Also, maybe don’t appear on Tucker Carlson’s show in the first place?
If you’re a person who strives to be honest and forthright in your work, and especially if you are a person who is not a trained and experienced professional on-air personality, you are at an immediate disadvantage the moment you agree to be on a cable news show, especially one hosted by someone utterly lacking in shame. You, the ambushee, receive no benefit from agreeing to appear on a bad cable news show as a designated punching bag. You get nothing, unless you’re really excited to get a free ride in a town car to a TV studio. Maybe if you really want someone to apply a lot of pancake makeup to your face but you are too nervous to ask someone at the Macy’s counter, appearing on Fox News to be harangued by a washed-up fraud is worth it.
Otherwise, there’s no upside to this sort of thing, besides maybe, if you’re lucky, a decent, post-show, setting-the-record-straight blog post. No matter how smart and conscientious you are, you are not equipped to fight back effectively, because you are playing a rigged game.
Ideally, no one should ever agree to be on cable news, ever, especially the sort of people who really want to be on cable news, all of whom should be in jail. But normal, decent people should, at the very least, stop agreeing to appear on shows like Tucker Carlson Was Cheaper And Less Likely To Sue For Sexual Harassment Than Most Of The Alternative Host Options For This Slot.
Journalists, bloggers, reporters, random people whose beliefs or appearance can be easily caricatured: Next time that booker emails you, just say “fuck off.”