One of the dangers of writing an opinion column too close to the events upon which one is opining is: Circumstances and knowledge change. Fast.
It’s like drinking wine shortly after it’s been stored and trying to tease out where it will land on the poor-to-great vintage scale.
You gotta let it age.
I was too quick off the mark last week in my eagerness to get a litany of people who had a bad week.
Who knew that the Bad Week Grapes would yield Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon just three days later?
I’m not going to pile on the Tucker Carlson professional burial. For starters, he’s only 53 and network executives have a short memory when they’re staring down the barrel of three million dedicated viewers a night.
Second, Carlson has been fired by more networks – CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and of course Fox) than I’ve worked for – zero – so, Mr. Mullings, go sit in the corner and let the grownups discuss this.
Here’s my one Carlson story:
In my Conservative Republican days, I did a Crossfire segment with Carlson and, I believe, Paul Begala as the Right-Left hosts. My Democratic counterpart was Bob Shrum.
The question under discussion was Al Gore’s supposed claim that he had “invented the Internet.”
Tucker Carlson, of course, was hee-hawing like a mule over the insanity of such a statement. Shrum tried to defend Gore. I actually knew what I was talking about – for a change.
I pointed out that Gore, before he was VP and was still in the Senate, had been a champion of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which, among other things, opened the Internet to commercial use.
Prior to this the Internet was reserved for hobbyists and researchers. It had actually been invented by DARPA – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – specifically for researchers to share information.
Not for people to spend hours on TikTok, Facebook, or Twitter while they’re working remotely.
The Internet we know today (and knew that night) was a direct result of Gore’s continuing passion both as an active Senator and as the Vice President. Whether he actually claimed to have “invented” the Internet, he deserved the credit.
You would have thought Tucker was going to swallow his bowtie.
To no one’s surprise, I was never on Crossfire again.
I have been thrown off other shows. One night I disagreed with Bill O’Reilly on how Florida Gov. Jeb Bush should handle rumors of an affair. O’Reilly said he should ignore it, I said he should affirmatively deny it (if you can affirmatively deny anything).
Never invited back.
To say Tucker Carlson and I never much liked one another would be accurate, if understated.
I have wondered, over the years, whether I have been jealous of Tucker having had all those shows on all of those networks. I may have been jealous of some people, but Carlson is not one of them.
In the end, there are approximately 334,233,854 people in the US in 2023. Three million of them watched Tucker Carlson on a typical night. That means approximately 331,233,854 Americans were blissfully ignorant of whatever crap he was spewing on any given night,
The orbit of the Earth around the Sun has not been altered by the firing of Tucker Carlson. Nor, I think, the arc of history
As Eliza Dolittle sang in “My Fair Lady,”
I shall not feel alone without you
I can stand on my own without you
So go back in your shell
I can do bloody well
Don Lemon was also fired.
See you next week.