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Posted by on Mar 18, 2015 in Journalism, Media, Politics | 4 comments

The Daily Caller The Daily Crawler? Mickey Kaus quits Daily Caller after Tucker Carlson pulls critical Fox News column

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It’s not unusual to see an avowedly liberal political website take a passionate swipe at MSNBC over an issue, or for a conservative website take some potshots at Fox News. Each side will say the other doesn’t do that but, in fact, you do see it. The conservative website The Daily Caller has some talented writers, but now it’s losing veteran conservative blogger Mickey Kraus, who quit after site owner Tucker Carlson pulled a column Kraus wrote criticizing Fox News.

Perhaps Mr. Carlson has watched “Citizen Kane” one time too many:

The blogger Mickey Kaus has quit his job at The Daily Caller after the conservative site’s editor-in-chief, Tucker Carlson, pulled a critical column about Fox News from the site, Kaus told the On Media blog on Tuesday.

“It’s pretty simple,” Kaus said in an interview, “I wrote a piece attacking Fox for not being the opposition on immigration and amnesty — for filling up the airwaves with reports on ISIS and terrorism, and not fulfilling their responsibility of being the opposition on amnesty and immigration…. I posted it at 6:30 in the morning. When I got up, Tucker had taken it down. He said, ‘We can’t trash Fox on the site. I work there.”

If correct, that is indeed the epitome of transparency. And it’s also the kind of mind-set that many conservatives would like to attribute to the supposedly and misnamed “liberal media”: an editor from above who censors and controls content.

But a stance on a political issue wasn’t in contention here. It wasn’t Kraus’ position on immigration (which many including yours truly will disagree with). It was about Carlson not wanting to upset his employer — a position that transparently suggested where his loyalties lie.

Which raises the question as well: does this mean that when he’s on Fox News Carlson would ever take a stand on an issue that he perceived as being seriously at odds with the bigwigs at his network? Or a particular big bigwig?

Carlson, who co-founded The Daily Caller in 2010, is a conservative contributor to Fox News and the host of its weekend edition of “Fox & Friends.”

Kaus says when he told Carlson he needed to be able to write about Fox, Carlson told him it was a hard-and-fast rule, and non-negotiable.

“He said it was a rule, and he wouldn’t be able to change that rule. So I told him I quit,” Kaus explained. “I just don’t see how you can put out a publication with that kind of giant no-go area. It’s not like we’re owned by Joe’s Muffler Shop, so we just can’t write about Joe’s Muffler shop.”

Carlson’s response was what many of us former and current employees of big media companies endearingly call “corporate speak”: where a publication that insists on disclosure and information from others as part of its ongoing mission in a crisis issues a “statement” that’s as dry and evasive as the of statement that news gatherers would consider…transparently… an evasion of a straightforward answer to a question:

Reached via email, Carlson told On Media: “Mickey is a great guy, and one of the few truly independent thinkers anywhere. I’m sorry to see him go.”

Well, it’s more effective than a “no comment.”

What’s striking here is a)The Daily Caller’s writers now know there is a taboo: serious criticism of Fox News itself, b) Carlson apparently thinks Fox News would reel in the wake of a column by one conservative columnist, c)Carlson knows where his paycheck is coming from and like employees who’ve worked for employers big and small throughout the ages he doesn’t want to upset the boss.

Carlson was once perceived as representing the wave of the conservative media future: young, bright and articulate. But in recent years he has been mired in controversy (just look up Carlson controversy on Google but there is a lot more). But controversy fuels attention and a brand name so his career and income is most assuredly not in danger by Kraus’ departure. And — to be sure — he has won brownie points at Fox.

Carlson is no longer a symbol of the conservative media’s future but, rather, a symbol of someone whose early potential steadily evaporated by his doing whatever it took to achieve and maintain a prominent big broadcast media profile. His steep journalistic decline is perhaps paralleled by the sharp decline in the journalistic creds of Geraldo Riviera, who in the early 70s was a role model for many young journalists when he was considered an up and coming broadcast investigative journalist.

Many news stories involilng Carlson in the past few years (including the famous John Stewart smackdown on Crossfire) have not cast him in a charitable light, journalistically.

The most charitable thing you could say about Carlson over the past decade is that he finally ditched the bow tie.