Last Night, Tucker Carlson admitted to beating up a man who ‘bothered’ him back in high school.
The latest from Media Matters:
During Discussion of Craig’s Arrest, Carlson Admits High School Assault on Man Who “Bothered” Him in Public Restroom
For Video of the Exchange: CLICK HERE
Washington, DC – Last night on MSNBC Live, during a discussion about Sen. Larry Craig’s (R-ID) arrest for “lewd conduct” and eventual guilty plea, MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson described his assault on a man who he said “bothered” him in a Washington, D.C., public restroom.
Carlson asserted, “Having sex in a public men’s room is outrageous. It’s also really common. I’ve been bothered in men’s rooms.” When host Dan Abrams asked how Carlson responded to being “bothered,” Carlson asserted, “I went back with someone I knew and grabbed the guy by the — you know, and grabbed him, and … hit him against the stall with his head, actually. … And then the cops came and arrested him.” Carlson had claimed earlier in the discussion, “I’ve been bothered in Georgetown Park,” in Washington, D.C., “when I was in high school.”
Transcript from the August 28 edition of MSNBC Live at 9 p.m. ET
ABRAMS: But Tucker, your position has long been on these kinds of stories that their personal lives are not our business. Does this case qualify for that, in your mind, as well?
CARLSON: Let me be clear, Dan. I am not gay. I have never been gay. I overreacted and made a poor decision.
SCARBOROUGH: And you love your — you love your wife, Tucker. Let me just say for the record, I am not gay, either.
CARLSON: Let me — let me put it this way. Whether he’s gay or not actually is not our business, and I do think it’s indefensible that the newspaper in Idaho spent a year interviewing 300 people to answer the question, Is he gay? That’s none of your business. Having sex in a public men’s room is outrageous. It’s also really common. I’ve been bothered in men’s rooms. I think people who do –
CARLSON: Yeah, I have. You know what, Let me just say.
SCARBOROUGH: Wait, hold on a second. Dan, hold on a second. I don’t mean to take over, but have you been bothered in public restrooms, Dan? Because I know I haven’t.
CARLSON: I have. I’ve been bothered in Georgetown Park. When I was in high school.
CARLSON: And let me just say, I think —
SCARBOROUGH: That’s something.
CARLSON: — people should knock that off. I’m not anti-gay in the slightest, but that’s really common, and the gay rights groups ought to disavow that kind of crap because, you know, that actually does bother people who didn’t ask for being bothered. So yeah, I think it’s outrageous that he did that. And also, this specter of him getting up there and blaming other people is so Clintonian. You know, if he just said, “I’m not going to talk about it,” that’d be one thing.
ABRAMS: And — and this notion —
CARLSON: But he’s clearly crazy.
ABRAMS: Well, and this notion that he pled guilty, and yet he’s saying, “Oh, you know what? I never should have done that.”
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it’s the newspaper’s fault.
CARLSON: Well it’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous.
ABRAMS: Well it’s the newspaper — it’s everyone’s fault except his own. I mean, I’ve never heard of — I mean, you’re a U.S. senator, and you’re thinking you’re going to make it go away —
SCARBOROUGH: But hold on a second, though, Dan —
ABRAMS: — by pleading guilty after you’re busted in a public bathroom?
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. You have Bill Clinton, who actually went out and did the same exact thing. He showed defiance. He said, “I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” And he continued that line not only for months in the press, but then he went before a grand jury and said the same thing. And it — you know what? Here’s the thing. It worked for Bill Clinton. His wife went on TV and she blamed, remember, the vast right-wing conspiracy that’s been trying to take down her husband.
I don’t dredge this up to knock the Clintons. That is history, and it’s a — ugh — it is a nasty part of our history, and I’m glad it’s behind us. I just bring it up to say, you know what? Deny, deny, deny seems to work.
CARLSON: But it’s also — but it’s evidence, in Larry Craig’s case — I mean, you know, you just watch the press conference, and you see a man who’s not in possession of himself. I mean, there’s something — you know, I’m not a shrink, but there’s clearly something wrong with Larry Craig. He appeared to believe it. This is a guy who’s been accused repeatedly over the years of soliciting sex from men in bathrooms. So the chances that he’s arrested for the same thing accidentally —
ABRAMS: Right, right, right.
CARLSON: What, he’s the unluckiest man and he’s Job?
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Tucker?
CARLSON: You know what I mean? It’s insane!
SCARBOROUGH: Was he the guy in Georgetown, Tucker?
CARLSON: No, actually. I got that — my point is — let me just say —
ABRAMS: Tucker, what did you do, by the way? What did you do when he did that? We got to know.
CARLSON: I went back with someone I knew and grabbed the guy by the — you know, and grabbed him, and — and —
ABRAMS: And did what?
CARLSON: Hit him against the stall with his head, actually!
CARLSON: And then the cops came and arrested him. But let me say that I’m the least anti-gay right-winger you’ll ever meet —
CARLSON: — but I do think doing this in men’s rooms appears to be common. It’s totally wrong, and they should knock it off. I mean that. I think it’s — I can’t bring my son to the men’s room at the park where he plays soccer because of all these creepy guys hanging around in there. I actually think it’s a problem. I’m sorry.
This is more than disturbing, on multiple levels. Tucker Carlson actually admits beating someone up who ‘bothered’ him in a men’s bathroom back when he was in high school.
Yeah, getting prepositioned in a men’s bathroom (if that’s what actually happened–Tucker is vague on the details) is pretty sleazy, but getting a friend and beating the guy up is far, far worse.
And, of course, he has the temerity to say he’s the “least anti-gay right-winger you’ll ever meet.” So not only is he saying that the right wing is inherently anti-gay, but that the least anti-gay right-wing guy you’ll find beats up gay men for ‘bothering’ them.
UPDATED: Pam Spaulding has picked up on this, too.
(Added the question mark to the title because the specifics of what happened are unclear, though they certainly seem to indicate as much.)
UPDATE II: The Huffington Post now has the Media Matters piece in their politics section.
UPDATE III: Atrios has it now.
UPDATE IV: This is all over the place–most of the major left-wing blogs have picked up on it by now. This is getting a lot of attention.
UPDATE V: Media Matters has a response:
UPDATE: Media Matters received the following statement from Tucker Carlson by email from an MSNBC spokeswoman:
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 [sic] 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.
This statement makes no sense.
Now we know what Tucker meant by “bothered”– he was “physically grabbed.” The question is, why did he interpret this as a sexual assault? He provides no information as to how (or where) he was grabbed that would indicate this was some sort of sexual advance (and not, say, a mugging or something similar).
Also, Carlson says he and his friend “seized the man and held him until a security guard arrived.” This contradicts what he said on-air, which was that they bashed the man’s head into the stall.
This just doesn’t make sense. If Carlson was physically attacked and got away, the first thing he should have done is gone to get a police officer or a security guard. Instead, a half-hour later, he and a friend go back, confront the man, hold him down and/or hit his head into the stall.
Sounds like Carlson got a lot of angry feedback from what he said and is now trying to backpedal. Either that or he exaggerated the story on-air to make it sound more impressive. Either way, some serious dishonesty coming from Tucker Carlson.