When blogger Mickey Kaus quit his job at The Daily Caller last month after editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson told him he wasn’t allowed to criticize Fox News, it seemed there had to be more to the story. Perhaps there wasn’t really a blanket policy against criticizing Fox, where Carlson also serves as a weekend host, but rather an objection to the specific story in question.
But no, as Carlson calmly explained in a video interview with RealClearPolitics on Thursday, the “you can’t go after Fox” rule is very real. “Yes, it’s a conflict, for sure,” he said of his dual roles at Fox and The Daily Caller. “But I don’t know what to do about it,” he added admitting that the situation is inherently “unfair” but is “what it is.”
Watch the video below:
But does it have to be that way? The one big, unanswered question that has followed this story around over the last couple of weeks is this: Did Fox give Carlson some kind of mandate that says his site is not allowed to criticize them or is he just afraid that his job with the network will be in jeopardy if it does?
Mediaite has reached out to Fox and they told us explicitly that there has been no mandate whatsoever. Also from what we’ve been able to glean from others inside Fox, no one there really cares whether The Daily Caller criticizes them or not.
As someone like Bernie Goldberg has proven of late, Fox isn’t always afraid to have figures going after them on air and there is no known policy that prohibits employees from criticizing the network elsewhere. Perhaps MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz really was speaking on behalf of Fox when he said recently that Carlson’s policy “helps undercut his site’s independence.”
While Fox has not said definitely whether or not The Daily Caller printing columns critical of Fox would have any bearing on Carlson’s job, all signs point to the conclusion that is would not have any effect.
It’s also illustrative to point out the content of the Mickey Kaus piece that Carlson spiked. Rather than challenge Fox from the left as everyone from Media Matters to Jon Stewart does on a near-daily basis, Kaus was actually arguing that Fox isn’t conservative enough when it comes to the issue of immigration. Particularly, he felt host Megyn Kelly was spending too much time discussing ISIS and not enough time covering perceived threats from the border.
But if Carlson were looking out for Fox’s well-being, he should be encouraging this type of critical piece on his site. Someone on the right arguing that Fox isn’t conservative enough plays directly into the “fair and balanced” reputation they are constantly trying to maintain.
“You don’t criticize your employer, and that’s kind of 101,” Carlson said in the interview released today. But when it comes down to it, all he’s really doing with his “lay off Fox” dictate is make his hallway interactions with colleagues a little less awkward. By blatantly admitting to the admittedly “unfair” policy, Carlson isn’t protecting his career, he’s only making his website look as bad as it did after his brother was busted calling Mayor Bill de Blasio’s spokesperson a “LabiaFace.”
After all, if Fox really wanted a reason to fire Carlson, they have other potential excuses. Such as, for instance, that time he feel asleep on the job.
[Photo via Fox]
Editor’s note: This post has been edited since its original posting – Jon Nicosia, Mgr. Editor
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