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The Bowtie Brawler Takes a Beating
April 30, 2002
By Taylor Sias

As a fan of both the "sweet science" and politics, I was drawn to CNN's new Crossfire. The promos run by CNN compared the new format to a prizefight, and even ridiculously dressed the hosts in ring garments. This Tomfoolery aside, a real knockout occurred last Thursday night.

In the middle rounds of an uninspired contest, a stunning KO was delivered. The blow made me reminisce about an invincible Mike Tyson being destroyed by Buster Douglas a decade ago. I wanted to get up, yell at the TV in my best Cosellian imitation, and ejaculate "down goes Carlson, down goes Carlson!"

On this night, Tucker Carlson had his career effectively ended by a hungry, young buck named David Brock.

Going in, there was not much reason to anticipate such an amazing display. David Brock, writer of Blinded By The Right, had in prior public engagements shown restraint in addressing his book. Whether it be on Jon Stewart or Bill Maher, I walked away unquenched by Brock's statements. His book had said enough, but to hear it in his voice would be refreshing.

On Thursday April 25, everything changed. Maybe it was Brock looking at a younger version of his prior self in Tucker Carlson (it was said that in his days with the dark side, Brock wore bowties often to make himself appear more conservative) but he had his shining moment.

In the much-ballyhooed interview, Brock effectively started by landing a few pawing jabs, but had the ammunition ready for a vicious assault. Brock suggested that Carlson was thinking, "Gee, you know, David, I agree with every word in your 'Esquire' piece and I'm just attacking it to make a couple hundred dollars."

Carlson was momentary disconnected from his senses, and all he could utter was "That's a total lie, David. I never said that. I thought your piece was ludicrous then. I think it's ludicrous now. I never said that. And you made it up."

Carlson looked like he had been hit by a young Mike Tyson, and was desperate to hold on. He had not quite gone down yet, but his legs were definitely shaky.

Brock, ready to go for the stoppage, countered by saying "I will look you right in the eye. That is exactly what you told me. Some friends have told me that it sounds just like you". This exchange was much like the first Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield fight, when Holyfield proved he would not be bullied by Tyson. Equipped with the courage to stand up to the monster, the monster turned into something much less.

There is no need to expand on the remainder of the interview. It was classic, with Carville uttering the memorable line "What are we going to tell the children?" in response to Brock's revelation that Solicitor General Ted Olson and Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas both lied under oath. The line was classic Carvillian. As Undisputed 140 Pound World Champion Kostya Tsyzu said after gaining the title by beating Zab Judah, "It's like a boomerang". The same line spoken against Clinton came back to bite the conservatives.

The fight was mercifully stopped after ten minutes, and Carlson was visibly shaken. He was schooled by a better man, who was not afraid of his foul tactics. I get the feeling that Carlson will never be the same again.

We'll see all the signs of a shopworn fighter, such as being afraid to initiate the action. When he pressed the action on this night, he was left open to a bruising attack to the head and body. Carlson will live on to fight another day, as he probably needs the paydays. But gone will be the days of the cocky young punk who felt invincible. What is left is a broken man, who knows exactly the consequences of what happened other night. Debaters will be more confidant to attack the former warrior with a shaky set of whiskers, realizing that armed with the facts they will prevail.

On this night, there was no doubt as to the victor. The truth won. Carlson will be full of excuses, but the levelheaded saw what transpired. Hopefully for safety's sake, Carlson will not turn into the journalistic equivalent of Muhammad Ali.


Taylor Sias is a proud liberal, and news editor for the William T. Dwyer High School newspaper in Jupiter, Florida.

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