Letter to TIME

To the Editor:

I’m surprised that in talking about his appearance on Crossfire, you replaced Jon Stewart’s reference to Tucker Carlson with “[male appendage].” It seems unnecessarily prim considering that in the same paragraph you left Carlson’s prior namecalling untouched. Perhaps you’d care to explain to your readers what Carlson meant when he called Stewart Kerry’s “butt boy”, and how it’s less of a sexual reference than calling someone a “dick.” And perhaps you could mention Time/Warner’s stake in CNN, Crossfire, and Carlson’s career.

From the October 25, 2004 issue of TIME‘s People section:

Comic Gets Cross, Fires
Usually when the competition’s biggest star is accused of abusive sex talk involving a fibrous sponge (see story, this page), you’ve had a good week. That was before CNN’s Crossfire invited on JON STEWART, below left, of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Hosts Paul Begala and TUCKER CARLSON, below right, expected some light yuks but got a pointed lecture when the fake news anchor likened their political shout-a-thon to “pro wrestling.” There followed one of the most uncomfortable talk-TV showdowns since Harvey Pekar did David Letterman. The audience laughed and applauded as Stewart called the stunned hosts “partisan hacks” who were “hurting America” by dumbing down the political discourse. Carlson countered that Stewart had acted like Senator John Kerry’s “butt boy” by throwing him softball questions. “You’re on CNN,” Stewart said. “The show that leads in to me is puppets making crank phone calls.” “I was just shocked by how sanctimonious he was,” Carlson later told TIME. “I thought, This must be some elaborate routine, and there’s going to be a punch line at the end.” Which there was, sort of. “You’re more fun on your show,” Carlson told the comic. Shot back Stewart: “You’re as big a [male appendage] on your show as you are on any show.” Easy there, guys. That kind of talk can get a TV star sued nowadays.