Dave Levinthal

'Mean, vicious, malignant, hateful': Tucker Carlson’s counterpart recalls their forgotten C-SPAN segment

The young journalist looked a bit tired in his tan sport coat and striped bow tie.

It was early on a Saturday, after all — the 8 a.m. hour on New Year's Eve eve of 1995 — and he spoke in soft, sometimes halting tones about trimming government and encouraging tax cuts. He praised the Washington Post's watchdog reporting. He waxed philosophical about legislative processes in a fashion fit for a history professor.

"The founders didn't want, and I don't think we want, any bill or law or idea to breeze through Congress without a vigorous, and for that reason, grubby, debate," then-Weekly Standard staff writer Tucker Carlson told C-SPAN's "Saturday Journal" host Lew Ketcham. "That is the way the system should, and does work."

So it went. No yelling or cursing. No demonizing or demagoguing. When a chipper caller from Salt Lake City mistakenly referred to liberal magazine "Mother Jones" as "Mother Goose" while asking a question about corporate welfare, the malapropism caused 26-year-old Carlson to visibly swallow a sheepish smile.

Observed through the lens of now, the long-forgotten interview and call-in segment — as of today, the online clip of Carlson's C-SPAN debut has just 624 views during the past 27 1/2 years — is preposterous.

The Carlson of 2023 ranks among the most polarizing men in America, perhaps second only to former President Donald Trump — lionized by millions of conservatives for his bombastic Fox News broadcasts that detractors describe as a cesspool of racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. Carlson's anti-vaccine preaching, election conspiracy-promoting, Jan. 6 insurrection-denying shows were also huge business for Fox News — until the network fired him last month amid numerous controversies, including a discrimination lawsuit and revelations of racist text messages.

"I had no idea how evil he would turn out to be. No idea," author and journalist William Saletan, then a Mother Jones reporter who shared the C-SPAN studio with Carlson that morning, recalled to Raw Story. "And I don't think anything in that conversation prepared me for that."

William Saletan (l), Tucker Carlson (c) and C-SPAN host Lew Ketcham (r) appear on "Saturday Journal" the morning of Dec. 30, 1995.

Carlson's first C-SPAN interview "was notable for not being notable," Saletan said. "He didn't say anything that that was anything off the kind of standard path for what a mid-1990s conservative magazine writer might say about policy or politics."

So what happened to Carlson during the three ensuing decades, as he hopscotched his way from CNN to PBS to MSNBC to the Daily Caller to Fox News?

Saletan grew biblical.

"I'm kind of an Old Testament guy. I think that nobody makes you evil. You just are. And I'm sorry to say that," he said. "But ... I think somebody like him, he had to have had a core of vice, of viciousness, that he either disguised from others, from himself, from his audience. Maybe he suppressed it because you just couldn't say those kind of things out loud and have a career. But as soon as he could have a career and say those things, he started saying them."

Saletan continued: "Anyone watching him today, there's no way to describe that objectively other than mean, vicious, malignant, hateful. He just loves to humiliate people. He's like the kid in grade school who would find anything that he could pick on about you. And if it was your ethnicity, or your religion, that's what he would choose. That's the way he functions. He's a child. He's just absolutely a mean child with an adult job. He probably he had that in him all along."

Carlson could not be reached for comment. But in a video he posted on Twitter after his firing from Fox News, Carlson held court about the concept of truth.

"When honest people say what's true, calmly and without embarrassment, they become powerful. At the same time, the liars, who have been trying to silence them, shrink and they become weaker. That's the iron law of the universe. True things prevail. Where can you still find Americans saying true things? There aren’t many places left, but there are some. And that’s enough. As long as you can hear the words, there is hope."

Carlson also bemoaned how "undeniably big topics" facing the nation — war, civil liberties, science, demographic changes, corporate power, natural resources — are no longer discussed.

"When was the last time you've heard a legitimate debate about any of those issues? It's been a long time," Carlson said. "Debates like that are not permitted in American media."

Carlson, who last appeared on a C-SPAN-produced program in 2018, must've not checked the network's policy- and issue-heavy schedule lately.

What does Saletan, now a writer with The Bulwark, believe Carlson will do next with himself?

"If he thinks it was all a game, he'll probably sit there and collect his severance or whatever he got from Fox," Saletan said. "On the other hand, if he's sincere about this stuff, he might start his own media operation and say, what the hell? I don't have to answer to Rupert Murdoch or corporate executives any more. So I'm going to talk all the time about how the Muslims and the Mexicans are taking over our country."

Rudy Giuliani is still an honored man at these five colleges despite a tsunami of legal scandals

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a central figure during Donald Trump’s presidency, stands accused of sexually assaulting an ex-employee.

He is also accused of offering to sell presidential pardons for $2 million each — he denies wrongdoing.

And that’s just last week.

Giuliani also repeatedly lied about President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, according to the House January 6 Committee.

He actively worked to overturn the 2020 presidential election’s results and is facing a civil defamation suit brought by Georgia election workers.

He rallied Trump supporters to stage a “trial by combat” just before they attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and has advocated bombing Mexico.

He violated professional legal standards, per a D.C. Bar disciplinary committee.

Worse yet for Giuliani, he’s endured the suspension of his law license in New York and Washington, D.C, with a New York court declaring Giuliani’s “conduct immediately threatens the public interest” while he “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign.”

Even Giuliani’s own lawyer is just about through with him.

But at Georgetown University, Syracuse University, St. John Fisher University, Loyola University Maryland and The Citadel, Giuliani remains an honored man.

At present, each school has allowed Giuliani to keep honorary degrees they bestowed on him before his MAGA-era troubles began — despite, in some cases, mounting outrage from students, faculty and alumni.

Any of them could take Giuliani’s degrees back.

“If at any time during the life of an awardee the University becomes aware of documented evidence of criminal, unethical or immoral behavior or activity, the University has the right to rescind the honorary degree,” Georgetown University’s honorary degree revocation policy states.

“In considering any revocation, Georgetown would follow this policy,” the university wrote in a statement to Raw Story in confirming the former mayor “received an honorary degree from Georgetown in 2002 at the Law Center Commencement.”

Georgetown University officials this week refused to say, however, whether the school’s board and administration are actively attempting to strip Giuliani of his degree, and if so, where the process — if there is one — stands.

That’s more than the other four schools were willing to say about Giuliani.

The Citadel spokesman Zachary Watson acknowledged — but did not answer — Raw Story’s questions about the status of the honorary degree Rudy Giuliani received from the South Carolina military school in 2007.

Then-Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani (center) receives an honorary degree of doctor of public administration from Citadel Associate Provost Isaac Metts (right) on May 5, 2007. Stephen Morton/Getty Images

Officials at Syracuse University and St. John Fisher University in New York, as well as Loyola University Maryland, did not respond to repeated phone and email messages.

Their silence stands in stark contrast to the messages three other schools — the University of Rhode Island, Drexel University in Pennsylvania and Middlebury College in Vermont — have sent Giuliani: they’ve already revoked honorary degrees they had awarded him.

“The totality of Mr. Giuliani’s recent actions, which have led to the suspension of his license to practice law, include repeated unfounded claims of widespread election fraud, have significantly contributed to undermining the public’s faith in our democratic institutions and in the integrity of our judicial system, and stand in clear opposition to Drexel’s values,” Drexel wrote in 2021 when it deep-sixed Giuliani’s 2009 honorary doctor of laws degree.

Last year, after the University of Rhode Island Board of Trustees unanimously revoked honorary degrees awarded to both Giuliani and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, school President Marc Parlange said that the men “no longer represent the highest level of our values and standards that were evident when we first bestowed the degree.”

‘It’s just disappointing’

In a text message to Raw Story, Giuliani communications and political adviser Ted Goodman said, "Frankly, we weren't even aware of those decisions, and it's just disappointing, and it says more about the culture of these institutions than anything else."

At Georgetown University, institutional culture is exactly the reason why the school should terminate Giuliani’s honorary degree, one student group argues.

The “ongoing revelations about Mr. Giuliani’s inappropriate behavior and personal corruption represent egregious violations of the Jesuit values that guide Georgetown,” the Georgetown University College Democrats told Raw Story in a statement.

“His behavior has clearly risen to the level of ‘unethical and immoral,’ the university's standards for revoking honorary degrees,” the Georgetown University College Democrats continued. “The University should join its peer institutions across the country by immediately revoking Mr. Giuliani’s honorary degree to preserve the integrity and reputation of the school. A failure to do so would compromise Georgetown’s commitment to its Jesuit mission and the advancement of the common good.”

At St. John Fisher University, a private Catholic College near Rochester, N.Y., legal studies professor James Bowers introduced Giuliani before the former mayor received an honorary degree from the school in 2015. But Bowers has since changed his mind on Giuliani, telling Insider last year that he “clearly no longer represents the values that the Board of Trustees and our president professes that they believe in.”

According to student news organization Cardinal Courier, hundreds of alumni signed a letter asking the school to de-honor Giuliani. But university president Gerard Rooney declared in response: "After consultation with board leadership, the Board of Trustees is not planning to revisit this matter at this time."

Eighty miles east down Interstate 90, Giuliani received his earliest honorary degree in 1989 from Syracuse University’s College of Law. He also delivered Syracuse University’s commencement address in May 2002, eight months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But as Giuliani’s reputation as “America’s mayor” tarnished, David Bruen, president of Syracuse’s student government from 2021 to 2023, worked through the University Senate in an attempt to rescind the honorary degree.

“It was very concerning because earlier that year was January 6 and he played an integral role in disinformation and trying to overturn the result,” Bruen told Raw Story. “Joe Biden has an actual degree from (Syracuse’s) College of Law and Giuliani tried to overturn the election of an actual alum.”

The University Senate, a body of roughly 150 including students, faculty, and staff, passed a resolution to rescind the degree in spring 2022. More than 75% of the members voted in favor.

The matter went to the Board of Trustees, which commissioned a report on honorary degrees at Syracuse. Last November, the trustees passed criteria for rescinding degrees.

The criteria say Syracuse would consider rescinding an honorary degree only “in the most extreme circumstances, based on misconduct that is so egregious or shocking that it brings the character of the recipient into significant disrepute.”

ALSO READ: Trump again pushes back deadline to reveal his finances

Another part of the standard requires “clear and convincing evidence of the recipient’s misconduct, such as a criminal conviction, a finding or sanction by a court or another adjudicating body like a professional association or regulatory agency, or otherwise irrefutable evidence.”

By the end of last year, it appeared Syracuse University was poised to claw Giuliani’s degree back. But as winter turned to spring and the school year ended, Syracuse University officials hadn’t taken action.

The Syracuse University student government filed a petition for revocation with the University Senate’s Honorary Degrees Committee. Bruen, who graduated from Syracuse University earlier this month, said it will probably take a final, conclusive decision to disbar Giuliani for Syracuse to move forward with revocation of the degree.

“I have confidence that if there’s news, they’ll take action,” Bruen said. “I will be watching very closely.”

So will Giuliani.

"It'll be interesting to see who is behind these efforts to attack Mayor Giuliani and if anyone at these schools will inform these students about the basic principles of ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ and if they'll educate these students on the mayor's past as the man who took down the mafia, cleaned up New York and comforted the nation following 9/11," said Goodman, Giuliani’s spokesman.

As First Republic Bank faltered, five members of Congress dumped their personal stock investments

At least five members of Congress in mid-March dumped their personal stock shares in now-defunct First Republic Bank — trades that potentially saved the lawmakers or close family members thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, according to a Raw Story analysis of congressional financial records.

Reps. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), John Curtis (R-UT), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Dan Goldman (D-NY) each sold their shares between March 15 and March 20 as the bank’s credit rating eroded, stock price tumbled and depositors fled.

The lawmakers’ timing of the trades — four of the five bailed out of First Republic Bank stock while share prices still hovered in the $31-to-$35 range down from February highs in the $140s — allowed them to avoid additional losses beyond what they had already experienced. First Republic’s stock traded below $4 a share by the time JPMorgan Chase bought the failing bank earlier this week.

Their trades also coincided with broader bank-related action on Capitol Hill, with Congress fretting over the economic implications of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank imploding and spoolingup investigations into their failures.

While there’s no evidence that the lawmakers used information they obtained through their public service to inform their First Republic stock trades, such stock sales “can erode the public’s faith and confidence in Congress,” said Aaron Scherb, senior director of legislative affairs for Common Cause, a nonpartisan government watchdog organization.

“The perception of corruption can be just as damaging as actual corruption in many cases,” said Scherb, noting that a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers have introduced bills that would ban members of Congress and their immediate family members from trading individual stocks at all.

Why lawmakers sold First Republic shares

Khanna’s stock trade disclosures list the owners of the stock as his wife, Ritu Khanna, and their dependent child.

“Rep. Khanna does not own any individual stocks and is a co-sponsor of the TRUST in Congress Act to ban congressional stock trading,” a spokesperson for the congressman told Raw Story. “His wife has assets prior to marriage in a diversified trust managed by an independent third party, which per OGE rules eliminates any conflict. The periodic transaction reports publicly filed show that the First Republic transactions were very small relative to the portfolio and sold at a loss days after the steep fall. All trades have been disclosed.”

The trades listed as being for a child are from “a diversified trust that the family of Rep. Khanna’s wife set up for their grandchildren over which Rep. Khanna has no involvement or control.” Khanna valued the trades at between $2,002 and $30,000 — lawmakers are only required by law to disclose the value of their stock trades in broad ranges.

Frankel, one of Congress’ more active stock traders over the years, sold between $1,000 to $15,000 on March 16, when the stock price was $34.27.

Less than a week later, according to congressional financial disclosures, Frankel purchased up to $15,000 worth of shares in JPMorgan Chase, the bank that would go on to buy First Republic several weeks later.

“My account is managed independently by a money manager who buys and sells stocks at his discretion,” Frankel told Raw Story through a spokesperson.

Goldman spokesperson Simone Kanter similarly indicated that the freshman congressman, who has also established himself as one of Congress’ most frequent stock traders, had no personal involvement in the decision to sell between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of his First Republic shares. Goldman’s trades are executed by a financial adviser whose name his office declined to release.

“Congressman Goldman does not know why the stock was sold since he has had no contact with his advisor about specific trades since he entered Congress,” said Kanter, noting that Goldman has initiated a process to place his stock assets into what’s known as a qualified blind trust — a congressionally approved financial vehicle where a member of Congress formally cedes control of his or her assets to an independent money manager.

Blumenauer reported the sale of $1,001 to $15,000 in First Republic Bank stock on March 20 as a part of his spouse’s retirement portfolio, according to congressional stock disclosures.

“Congressman Blumenauer and his wife, a long-time successful attorney in Portland, have separate financial accounts. They have both retained a money manager with the power of attorney who makes financial decisions without their input or knowledge,” Hillary Barbour, Blumenauer’s communications director, said in a statement.

“For the Congressman’s spouse, the money manager occasionally engages in non-directed trades, meaning that she neither directs, approves, nor has knowledge beforehand of transactions made on her behalf. Congressman Blumenauer owns no individual stocks and has instructed the money manager to not purchase any stock on his behalf,” Barbour said.

Curtis purchased $1,001 to $15,000 worth of First Republic Bank shares on December 20 and sold stock in that same range on March 16, according to congressional disclosures. Curtis’s office did not respond to Raw Story’s requests for comment.

Push to ban congressional stock trading

During the 117th Congress from 2021 to 2022, at least 78 members of Congress — dozens of Democrats and Republicans alike — were found to have violated the STOCK Act's disclosure provisions, according to a tally maintained by Insider.

This year, Raw Story has identified three additional lawmakers — Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) — who were late disclosing personal stock trades.

Meanwhile, news organizations including the New York Times, Insider, NPR and Sludge have documented rampant financial conflicts of interests among dozens of members of Congress, such as those who bought and sold defense contractor stock while occupying positions on congressional armed services committees or otherwise voting on measures to send such companies billions of federal dollars. The executive and judicial branches are riddled with similar financial conflict issues, too, as the Wall Street Journal hasreported.

A plan to enact a congressional stock-trade ban failed during the 2021-2022 congressional session after Democratic House leaders declined to bring any of several existing bills — including one floated by House leaders themselves — up for a vote.

But this year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), have introduced several similar stock-ban bills in a renewed push to prohibit federal lawmakers and their spouses from trading stocks altogether. Cryptocurrency trades are also a target.

One of these lawmakers says her colleagues’ First Republic Bank trades are additional proof that members of Congress must prohibit themselves from playing the market.

“In the past few weeks, we’ve seen consistent reports of lawmakers — on both sides of the aisle — making suspiciously timed trades in the days surrounding the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic Bank,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), lead sponsor of a bill that would ban members of Congress and their immediate family members from trading stocks, told Raw Story.

“These trades further erode the trust that the American people have in their elected officials, and they reinforce the importance of banning members of Congress — and their spouses — from trading individual stocks,” Spanberger said. “Rather than moving on to the next news cycle, Congress needs to meet this moment with urgency, action, and a willingness to make clear that lawmakers should be serving the people, not their own stock portfolios.”

Koch Brothers: Teach Our Libertarian Claptrap and Get Millions for Your College!

In 2007, when the Charles Koch Foundation considered giving millions of dollars to Florida State University’s economics department, the offer came with strings attached.

Florida State University ranked a distant second behind George Mason University of Virginia as a recipient of Charles Koch Foundation money. In atax document filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the foundation described its Florida State University funding for 2012 as "general support." 

Some schools’ professors and students were aghast at the funding, arguing that such financial support wasn't widely known on their campuses and could threaten schools’ academic freedoms and independence. Others argued that colleges and universities — long bastions of liberal academics — would be well served by more libertarian courses of study.

Separately, Charles Koch is the financial force behind a “curriculum hub” for high school teachers and college professors that criticizes government and promotes free-market economic principles. He’s also funded programs for public school students, and this year, his foundation donated $25 million to the United Negro College Fund.

At Florida State University, Benson noted in a November 2007 memorandum that the Charles Koch Foundation would not just “give us money to hire anyone we want and fund any graduate student that we choose. There are constraints.”

Benson later added in the memo: “Koch cannot tell a university who to hire, but they are going to try to make sure, through contractual terms and monitoring, that people hired are [to] be consistent with ‘donor Intent.’”

A separate email from November 2007 indicates that Benson asked Charles Koch Foundation officials to review his correspondence with Florida State associates about potential Koch funding.

Trice Jacobson, a Charles Koch Foundation representative, did not respond to questions, although Benson and Florida State University spokesman Dennis Schnittker each confirmed that the emails and documents are authentic.

But Benson noted that the documents were meant for internal use and reflect the “early stages of discussion” well ahead of a 2008 funding agreement signed by the university and the foundation.

That agreement, initiated in 2009, has earned Florida State $1 million through April, according to the university. Until it was revised in 2013, an advisory board would consult with the Charles Koch Foundation to select faculty members funded by the foundation's money.

Benson also said that while he continued serving as Florida State’s economics department chairman until 2012, Charles Koch Foundation money wasn’t a factor.

While foundation initially discussed providing money to help fund Benson’s salary, “that idea was taken off the table very early in negotiations,” he said. “I continued as chair because I felt I could still make a valuable contribution to the department.”

The 2008 agreement between the school and the foundation nevertheless faced harsh criticism from some professors and students who argued it indeed gave the foundation too much power over university hiring decisions.

The school and foundation revised their agreement in 2013 “for clarity” and to emphasize the “fact that faculty hires would be consistent with departmental bylaws and university guidelines,” Schnittker said. “Our work with CKF [Charles Koch Foundation] has always upheld university standards.”

Those guidelines, spelled out in a Florida State University statement about the foundation from May, say the money will not compromise “academic integrity” or infringe on the “academic freedom of our faculty.”  

Ralph Wilson, a mathematics doctoral student and member of FSU Progress Coalition, doesn’t buy it.

Florida State University “willfully and knowingly violated the integrity of FSU by accepting funding meant only to further Koch’s free-market agenda,” said Wilson, whose student group works to “combat the corporatization of higher education.”

The Charles Koch Foundation, meanwhile, “is using our universities solely to further their own agenda and plunder the very foundations of academic freedom,” Wilson said.

At the end of 2012, the foundation reported having almost $265.7 million in assets, according to its most recent tax return filed with the Internal Revenue Service. 

In his 2007 memo to colleagues, Benson acknowledged the school’s relationship with the foundation would invite blowback.

“I guess I am trying to say that this is not an effort to transform the whole department or our curriculum,” Benson wrote. “It is an effort to add to the department in order to offer some students some options that they may not feel they have now, and to create (or more accurately, expand) a cluster of faculty with overlapping interests.”

Benson also predicted entering into an agreement with the foundation carried some risk.

“There clearly is a danger in this, of course. For instance, we might be tempted to lower our standards in order to hire people they like,” Benson wrote, in advocating that the university not do so. “We cannot expect them to be willing to give us free reign to hire anyone we might want, however, so the question becomes, can we find faculty who meet our own standards but who are also acceptable to the funding sources?”

The Koch brothers are best known not for their educational efforts but for controlling a constellation of conservative, politically active nonprofit corporations.

For example, this election cycle alone, six nonprofits connected to the Kochs have combined to air about 44,000 television ads in U.S. Senate races through late August, with the ads typically promoting Republicans or criticizing Democrats.

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