Carlson, With Visions Of Better Ratings, Tries To Bully Guest During Abortion Debate
Do it ever seem that conservative ranters just want to argue -- with no core values other than the need to feel superior?
Tucker Carlson, MSNBC's resident ratings cellar dweller, interviewed Eleanor Smeal last night, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Or maybe bullied is the better word.
The discussion was on abortion rights, following MS Magazine's decision to feature the names of thousands of American women who have had abortions.
Carlson certainly knows his ratings are awful -- MSNBC moved his show out of primetime, and it's been bounced around the schedule in search of softer competition. Maybe that's why he was so unnecessarily confrontational, trying to frame the debate to make it pleasing to conservative ears. It was as if Carlson was desperately trying to appease the Bill O'Reilly-Hannity & Colmes viewers -- on the off chance any of them actually were watching.
Let's take a gander:
CARLSON: Eleanor Smeal, why would women want to brag about having abortions?
SMEAL: Well, they‘re not bragging, they‘re telling their stories. And it‘s about time that we get into the focus of this debate, women‘s lives. Because right now, for example, in the November ballot in South Dakota they‘re considering a ban on abortion. These are times where politicians play into their right wing, are making extreme statements about outlawing abortion, and yet abortion has played a significant role in saving women‘s lives, and they want to tell their stories.
CARLSON: But abortion, even people who support legal abortion recognize that abortion is horrible, it‘s depressing, it‘s awful. That‘s why we want it to be rare, in the famous and phony formulation of President Clinton.
Let's interject for a moment on that statement: "The famous and phony formulation of President Clinton." What does that mean, exactly?
A common misconception pushed by conservative ranters is that favoring abortion rights increases the number of abortions. Statistics show otherwise -- the rate of abortions dropped in the 1990s. (In the current decade, the rate continues to drop, but at a slower pace.)
But we wouldn't want facts to get in the way of a good slam against a Democrat, right Tucker?
Continuing with the interview:
SMEAL: And when it is made illegal, women suffer and die.
CARLSON: But I thought whole — I mean the propaganda is we‘re not for abortion, we‘re pro-choice, we‘re merely for the option. But you‘re basically coming out and saying you‘re for abortion.
Carlson tried several times in the remainder of the interview to frame questions to get Smeal to say she is "for abortion," which is not the same thing as "favoring abortion rights."
It follows another common misconception perpetuated by conservative ranters: that those who favor abortion rights enjoy having abortions. It's the same mindset that suggests that those who favor abortion rights think abortion is a "lifestyle choice," or that they support women coming up with any old reason to have late-term (or as conservatives call it, "partial-birth") abortions. These are great talking points for the right wing, but there's no evidence -- statistical or otherwise -- to back it up.
Smeal addresses this in her response:
SMEAL: ... Because so often the debate is on slogans. It‘s on meaningless conditions that don‘t exist in real lives.