USA Today

VB The Wise: Tucker had an off night

Doug 'VB' Goudie
March 17, 2017 - 8:38 am

I'll admit it, I love Tucker Carlson and his show on Fox.  And so does POTUS Donald Trump apparently, which is why the President agreed to a sit-down with Tucker that aired on Wednesday night.  That interview had all the makings of a GREAT television interview.  But Tucker missed o this one.  Now, to be fair, it was a GOOD interview; but, I've come to expect GREAT from Tucker on a nightly basis, and this was not.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a Maddow - horrifically overhyped and under-delivered television.  No, it wasn't that, but neither was it a Tucker - rock 'em sock 'em take no prisoners television.  I offer as proof of that the following three problems with the interview:

1.  Tucker's first question was that Trump's tax returns on Maddow's show were "leaked to her potentially by someone in the White House.  Was it?" Good, tough question off the top.  After DJT answered, Tucker then followed up, and here's where he made his first BIG mistake.  Tucker pointed out that Trump paid in taxes in 2005 just under 25%, and he asked "is it fair" that Trump paid that when the average working man paid around 40%.  But this was not the time or place to debate the Buffett rule, no one cares about that right now.  The issue is Trump's taxes.  What Tucker should have asked was "Mr. President, is 25% roughly what you have paid in recent years?  Is it something close to that?"  Because again, IF there is an issue here, it is what has Trump paid in taxes, not whether he pays less than his bellhops.  And if POTUS answered the better question with "well as you know I'm under audit...", Tucker needed only to have said, "of course, but roughly, does 20 or 25% sound about right?"  What Tucker asked as his follow-up is fine, if you're Rachel Maddow, but this is Tucker Carlson we are talking about, I expected better.

2.  When the conversation got to wiretapping, again Tucker went softer than he normally does.  POTUS said to Tucker "I think you are going to discover some very interesting things coming to the forefront over the next two weeks", and that was left there to hang as the show then cut to commercial.  Tucker's focus on the whole wiretap discussion seemed to be more on whether Trump should be tweeting about the wiretapping, and whether Trump has any filters at the White House before he sends out a tweet.  But the question he missed was simple.  "Mr. President, based on your tweet, do you think your predecessor, Barack Obama, committed a crime against you, and if so, what should happen to him?"  The discussion the two had on tweeting was fine, but the overriding issue here is nefarious actions by a sitting President, and Tucker let that slide, uncharacteristically.

3.  Perhaps the most egregious mistake of the entire evening was this, the word "Russia" was not mentioned once during the entire 19 minutes that aired.  Regardless of whether you believe Trump is a Russia puppet, or whether Russia hacked the election, or whether Trump has secret business interests with Russia, Russia is one of the top 3 stories in Washington right now, has been since the election.  Tucker asked fifteen questions of the President in this interview, and not one was about Russia? If nothing else, a simple "Mr. President, on a scale of 1-10, how worried are you about the Congressional investigation going on about links between your administration and Russia?" Or, Tucker could have asked "While many on the left question the wiretapping story because they see no evidence, and yet those same people continue to push a Russia connection story that also seems to lack evidence. Your thoughts."  Instead, "Russia" was not mentioned, not once.  It is hard to believe that in his preparation for this interview Tucker said to himself, "Eh, there's just nothing to ask about Russia", and yet that is what he did.

Look, none of this is to say I didn't like the interview, I did.  The interview was good, but this is Tucker Carlson we're talking about, and good is not where the bar is for Tucker at this point.  I want great.

More wisdom next week.   

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