Two major gay rights groups -- the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network -- have released statements condemning remarks by MSNBC's Tucker Carlson about assaulting a man who "bothered" him in a men's room.
GLAAD Calls on Tucker Carlson, MSNBC to Apologize for Insensitive Remarks Condoning Violence
August 29, 2007
New York, Wednesday, August 29 - The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) today called on Tucker Carlson, NBC News and MSNBC to apologize for remarks made on Tuesday night that appear to condone violent assault.
On the Tuesday, Aug. 28 edition of "MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams" MSNBC host Tucker Carlson referenced an incident from his past when he was the recipient of an unwanted advance from another man. Carlson told program host (and MSNBC General Manager) Dan Abrams and fellow MSNBC host Joe Scarborough that after being "bothered" by a man in a restroom in a Washington, D.C., mall, Carlson returned "with someone [he] knew and grabbed the guy... and hit him against the stall with his head, actually. And then the cops came and arrested him." Abrams and Scarborough are seen chuckling throughout Carlson's telling of the story.
Earlier today, GLAAD called Abrams' office to discuss NBC News and MSNBC's response to Carlson's behavior. Abrams' office responded with an e-mailed statement attributed to Carlson, which read:
Let me be clear about an incident I referred to on MSNBC last night: In the mid-1980s, while I was a high school student, a man physically grabbed me in a men's room in Washington, DC. I yelled, pulled away from him and ran out of the room. Twenty-five minutes later, a friend of mine and I returned to the men's room. The man was still there, presumably waiting to do to someone else what he had done to me. My friend and I seized the man and held him until a security guard arrived.
Several bloggers have characterized this is a sort of gay bashing. That's absurd, and an insult to anybody who has fought back against an unsolicited sexual attack. I wasn't angry with the man because he was gay. I was angry because he assaulted me.
The statement is not only a failed attempt to justify Carlson's advocacy of violence, but also changes key details of the previous night's on-air story. First, Carlson does not repeat his assertion that he "hit him against the stall with his head," instead changing his story to say that he "seized the man and held him down until a security guard arrived." The security guard element is also newly invented. In his on-air statement, Carlson said that "the cops came and arrested him."
"Carlson's story was difficult to watch on two levels," said GLAAD Senior Director of Media Programs Rashad Robinson. "To see someone brag on national television of returning, with an accomplice, to the scene of an unwanted advance to violently attack the person who made it is incredibly disturbing. But it was also hard to watch because of the sheer absurdity of most of what Carlson was saying."
"Whether Abrams and Scarborough were laughing with Carlson or laughing at him, the fact remains that MSNBC and NBC News have some explaining to do about their standards and practices," Robinson said. "They need to explain whether bragging about physically assaulting a man in response to an unwanted advance is appropriate on-air behavior for one of their employees, and whether laughter by two others is an appropriate on-air response."
PLEASE CONTACT NBC NEWS AND MSNBC TODAY. Ask Tucker Carlson to apologize and ask NBC News and MSNBC if Carlson's on-air comments are reflective of their network's standards and practices.
Senior Vice President of Communications, NBC News
Vice President of Communications, MSNBC
Director of Media Relations, MSNBC
GLSEN Outraged by MSNBC Host Tucker Carlson's Comments About Assaulting Gay Man
GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is outraged and horrified by MSNBC host Tucker Carlson's revelation Tuesday night insinuating that as a high school student he once assaulted a man for a perceived sexual advance. GLSEN is calling on Carlson to issue an apology and disavow violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as reprehensible and unacceptable.
"Tucker Carlson's casual acknowledgment perpetrating such a violent act is shocking and sends a dangerous message to youth that physical assault based on actual or perceived sexual orientation is acceptable," said GLSEN Deputy Executive Director Eliza Byard. "Countless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth are bullied, harassed and assaulted at school every day. MSNBC and Carlson need to make it clear that violence in this case was an unacceptable reaction."
More than a third of LGBT students (37.8%) reported being physically harassed (being pushed, shoved, etc.) at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation in GLSEN's 2005 National School Climate Survey. Additionally, 17.6% of LGBT students reported being physically assaulted (punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
To watch the clip of Carlson's comments or learn more about the incident and others like it, visit Media Matters for America at www.mediamatters.org.
About GLSEN GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on GLSEN's educational resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.