by Sam Hieb
News & Observer reports Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson will be the featured speaker in a distinguished lecture series at the UNC School of Media and Journalism in April and—do I even need to say it?—-the school’s social media accounts have been bombarded with protests:
nnouncement that the conservative Carlson, who hosts the primetime show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News, would deliver the Roy H. Park Lecture on April 12.
“With so many journalists doing admirable work to discover and disseminate truth, you select an unabashed propagandist?” tweeted alumna Anna Hester. “This J-School alum is disappointed and ashamed. You can do better @UNCMJschool”
“This makes me want to turn my diploma around to face the wall,” Leslie Cohig Gura chimed in.
Tracy Wade tweeted, “Shameful and embarrassing. @TuckerCarlson is not even ALMOST a journalist.”
Coming to Carlson’s defense is UNC journalism faculty member and former Greensboro News & Record editor John Robinson. The N&O quotes Robison’s blog post entitled Tucker Carlson will speak at UNC-Chapel Hill, and everything will be all right:
OK, I get the outrage over Carlson. I’m a liberal. My blood pressure goes up with I watch Fox News. Carlson wouldn’t have been my choice to speak to the students, but the university didn’t ask my opinion. I’d have preferred someone who affirmed my journalism values more closely. Or, say, Jon Stewart. As a television talk show host, Carlson says what I consider offensive, ugly and wrong-headed things. Often. (When the Daily Stormer praises you, you’ve got to be doing something wrong.)
And that’s why his visit and speech are valuable. UNC-Chapel Hill is an educational institution. Students are there to learn. Among other things, the journalism school teaches critical thinking and skepticism. If your mama says she loves you check it out. Carlson’s visit provides the perfect opportunity to teach students about the principles of journalism, about truth-telling, fact-checking and bias. About journalistic independence and speaking truth to power.
Good on John Robinson. By the same token, note the dig he gets in on Carlson. The link Robinson provides to the supposedly “offensive, ugly and wrong-headed things” Carlson supposedly says is simply his Twitter feed. I read through it and for the life of me I didn’t see one tweet that any reasonable person could construe as “”offensive, ugly and wrong-headed things.” I also watch Carlson’s show on a semi-regular basis, and while the interviews sometimes get out of hand, it’s simply because he’s trying to get the liberals he invites on the show to explain their positions in a coherent manner.
I often find that critics of Fox News–you guessed it–don’t watch Fox News. Personally speaking I return the favor and click over to MSNBC from time time, and yes my blood pressure goes up, as Robinson’s does when he watches Fox. I guess that’s just the way it is these days. But at least we’re watching.