“Most speakers hate to be interrupted, but I enjoy it, having spent about 10 years in cable news getting interrupted and yelled at by a large bald man from Louisiana called James Carville. It actually makes me uncomfortable if people don’t scream at me as I speak.”
That was Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson, speaking to an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference three years ago, in a scene that opens Joel Meares’s excellent 2011 profile of Carlson for CJR. The remark, I think, forces a sober reconsideration of the media dust-up of the day, in which Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro interrupted—or, as many accounts have put it, “heckled”—Barack Obama as the president gave a statement on immigration policy at the White House.
To the consternation of established journalists, Carlson has stood by his reporter, couching his defense in brave journo-speak: reporters are supposed to get their questions answered, not just be stenographers to power, etc. But who knows? Maybe that’s simply a pose, and down deep Carlson actually believes that his reporter was being solicitous, helping Obama get comfy as he addressed a politically touchy subject. Either that, or he’s just eager to bring the fine discourse standards of cable news to the Rose Garden.
Update: One of the items linked above is this collection of statements from The Daily Caller, in which both Munro and publisher Neil Patel say the reporter was simply trying to time his question to be first, not to interrupt or heckle Obama. Carlson, by contrast, adopts a pro-heckling-the-president position.Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.