The “Tabloidization” Of The Media & Tucker Carlson

There are a whole host of things wrong with modern journalism, which is why it’s widely reviled amongst the American people, but one of the worst faults is what I think of as the “tabloidization of the media.” By that I mean, if it will draw eyeballs, somebody will publish it regardless of the consequences.

The mainstream media in this country will happily publish classified documents that will make it easier for Al-Qaeda to kill Americans, paparazzi ceaselessly hound celebrities and try to take embarrassing pictures of them at every opportunity, and even ordinary people like Richard Jewell and Steven Hatfill have their names drug through the mud as though the public’s “need to know” outweighs their presumption of innocence and right to privacy.

The same effect regularly occurs in the blogosphere. People like Michelle Malkin have had their home address and phone number posted by malicious left-wing blogs, there are gay outing campaigns, detailed investigations into the private lives of people like former reporter Jeff Gannon — & tramps like Jessica Cutler and the random woman who had a one night stand with Keith Olbermann talk about the intimate details not just of their sex lives, but of their partners’ sex lives.

It’s all inappropriate, better left unsaid, and most definitely better left unprinted. But, in war, the aggressor sets the rules and in the media, the lowest common denominator sets the rules. So, the reality is that once it’s out there, it’s out there. If people not only can get away with posting information that should have been left private, but are rewarded for it, trying to be ethical about what you print becomes a fool’s game.

Which brings me to Tucker Carlson and a moronic blogger. Here’s the WAPO summary of the action:

“Potomac Video store clerk Charles Williamson, 28, posted a message on his blog, Freelance Genius, Dec. 23 that described how he set up a movie rental account for MSNBC host Tucker Carlson at the MacArthur Boulevard store the day before.

“I could tell you what he and his ridiculously wasped-out female companion (wife?) rented if you really want to know,” he wrote. “I won’t tell you where he lives, though. That would be wrong and stupid.” Williamson also joked that he wouldn’t send 10,000 copies of Jon Stewart’s best-selling political satire, “America (The Book),” to Carlson’s home; Stewart ridiculed Carlson on “Crossfire” before the 2004 election.

…A week later, Williamson had forgotten all about it, he told us yesterday. That is, until Carlson, 37, reappeared at the video store and, said Williamson, “got pretty aggressive.” According to Williamson, Carlson confronted him about the blog and said he viewed the post as a threat to him and his wife. “He said, ‘If you keep this [expletive] up, I will [expletive] destroy you,’ ” Williamson recalled.

…In a phone interview Thursday, Carlson acknowledged that he approached Williamson in the store and said he was “very aggressive” because he wanted the post removed: “I don’t like to call the police or call his boss. . . . I’m a libertarian. I’m not into that.”

On Monday, Williamson said, his Potomac Video manager called and fired him. Williamson said he was told the company was threatened with legal action “and the owner doesn’t like that.” He re-posted the original Carlson item later that day. Williamson said he later learned that a man who identified himself as a lawyer for Carlson had been in the store and asked Potomac Video employees questions about him.

Carlson told us that he was concerned for the safety of his family, but did not threaten legal action against the company or push to have Williamson, who still has his office-manager day job, fired.

“He implied he was going to come and do something to my house,” Carlson said. “I’ve got four kids at home and I’ve had serious problems with stalkers twice. . . . This guy is threatening to come to my house and I’m on the road all the time. What would you do? This guy is threatening my family.”

Good for Carlson because that blogger deserved to be fired. The guy offered to post what Carlson was renting online and that’s obviously a violation of trust. What video store would want to have someone on their staff who’s threatening to post what customers of the store are watching? He also made a joke about knowing Carlson’s address and pranking him. Again, is that something that you’d want an employee of yours doing? Moreover, is it something that belongs on a blog? No, it doesn’t and it’s great that this guy was turned into a cautionary tale, because it discourages other people from doing the same thing. We’d be much better off as a society if more people paid a price for posting that sort of material.

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