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The Week Ahead

Tucker Carlson, Take 2

June 13, 2005|Matea Gold | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Tucker Carlson, the bow-tied conservative known best for his stint on CNN's now-canceled "Crossfire," returns to cable news today with a new prime-time show on rival cable channel MSNBC.

"The Situation With Tucker Carlson" features the commentator and a rotating panel -- for now, Rachel Maddow of Air America and radio talk-show host Jay Severin -- opining on up to 20 stories an hour in a rapid-fire, freewheeling format. The show will air at 9 p.m. weekdays on the East Coast, repeated at 10 p.m. PST.

Although the program will cover politics, Carlson said he will also delve into pop culture and a range of topics that he said did not fit into "Crossfire's" right-left format.

"It will not be a stilted format," said Carlson, who also has a weekly show on PBS that ends this month. "If someone perceived as liberal wants to say something perceived as conservative, amen."

Carlson took a verbal beating in October from comedian Jon Stewart, who used an appearance on "Crossfire" to charge the program with "hurting America" and Carlson and co-host Paul Begala of "partisan hackery."

When CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein decided to cancel the program several months later, he said he agreed with much of Stewart's critique.

Carlson said the comedian's criticism was "lame and kind of sanctimonious" but concurred that cable talk shows could be improved. "The real criticism I believe is that that form of debate can be inauthentic," he said. "It's phony when people argue for a team." On his new show, he added, "you will not see any partisan hackery, ever."

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