Ever since Scooter Libby was indicted, Tucker Carlson has had a lot to say about the central players in the legal drama, Libby and Patrick Fitzgerald. On his MSNBC show and on his blog, he's been unfailingly supportive of Libby and critical of Fitzgerald.
Here was his takedown of Fitzgerald the day the indictments were announced:
Pat Fitzgerald gave us all a long lecture this afternoon about the grave harm leaks like this do to America. "National security was at stake," he said. But when a reporter asked Fitzgerald how the leak of Valerie Wilson's name had hurt the country, he refused to answer.... If Patrick Fitzgerald believes the leak of Valerie Wilson's name constitutes a crime, he ought to indict someone for it. Otherwise, he ought to spare us the lectures.
A few weeks later, following the post-indictment revelation of Bob Woodward's involvement in the story, Carlson asked:
What else doesn't Pat Fitzgerald know? After two years of investigating the case, he had no idea Woodward was a recipient of the Plame leak (something anybody who lives in Washington would have guessed immediately), and learned only when he was told by an unnamed administration official. Yet Fitzgerald's ignorance didn't prevent him from accusing Libby - falsely and in public - of undermining this country's security. Fitzgerald should apologize, though of course he never will.
When are journalists going to realize that Fitzgerald is their enemy, and the enemy of the public's right to know what its government is doing?
[W]hat the hell is this investigation about anyway? Fitzgerald's original job description was simple: Find out who leaked Valerie Plame's name, and determine whether that leak was a crime. After two years, he seems to have concluded what was obvious right away: No, the leak was not a crime. Yet he has kept his investigation alive, as independent counsels always do. Meanwhile, people's lives are being disrupted and in some cases destroyed. What is the justification for this? I'd love to hear Fitzgerald himself explain.
But when it came to Libby, Carlson's had nothing but love, castigating the White House for telling staffers not to talk to Libby in the wake of his indictment: "It is so offensive to me... not only is this morally wrong -- this is a guy who devoted his whole life to the vice president. He's got little kids. He worked 18 hours every day for five years."
Carlson also slammed the Vice President for a lack of loyalty to his former chief of staff:
You'll notice that Cheney has said next to nothing about Libby since the day he was indicted. He hasn't stood up for him in public. He hasn't raised money for his legal defense fund. He's apparently done nothing to prevent Bush aides from telling White House staffers not to have any further contact with Libby. In other words, Cheney is acting like most politicians: He demands total loyalty, and gives very little in return.
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.
But this seems to be a bit of sore spot for Tucker. In a 1997 column, Howard Kurtz wrote about a dust-up over an article Tucker Carlson had written in The New Republic, in which he slammed Grover Norquist as a "cash-addled, morally malleable lobbyist" for his dealings in the Seychelles islands -- but failed to mention that his father, as U.S. ambassador to the Seychelles, had butted heads with Norquist over those dealings.
At the time, Tucker Carlson told Kurtz that there had been no need for him to run a "disclaimer" because "I didn't talk to my dad about the piece."
I wonder if, nine years later, he'll use the same line to explain away his lack of a Libby disclaimer: "I never talked to my dad about the case."
What do you say, Tucker?