Carlson failed to challenge Friedman's false claim that Katrina evacuees were responsible for "20 percent" of homicides in Houston last yearSeptember 20, 2006 10:59 AM EDT ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
On the September 18 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson failed to challenge independent Texas gubernatorial candidate Richard "Kinky" Friedman's false claim that "the [Hurricane Katrina] evacuees have been responsible for 20 percent of the homicides in Houston last year." In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times' reporting on August 21, "police statistics show that one in every five homicides in the city involves a Katrina evacuee as suspect, victim or both." Nonetheless, Carlson responded to Friedman's claim by stating: "That is shocking. That is shocking. That's upsetting -- and good for you for having the brass to talk about it in public. You're winning me over, by the way."
According to a February 6 Washington Post article, between September 1, 2005, and the Post article's publication, more Katrina evacuees were the victims of homicides in Houston than were suspects: "[E]vacuees are believed to have been involved in 26 slayings, or nearly 17 percent of all homicides. The cases, according to Houston police, involved 34 evacuees -- 19 of them victims and 15 of them suspects."
The subject came up when Carlson asked Friedman about his comments that Katrina evacuees in Houston are "thugs and crackheads." According to a September 18 Los Angeles Times article, Friedman said: "The musicians and artists have mostly moved back to New Orleans now. ... The crackheads and the thugs have decided to stay here. They want to stay here. I think they got their hustle on, and we need to get ours." Defending his comments on Tucker, Friedman stated that he was referring only to a "small group" of evacuees, adding, "I'm not a racist. I'm a realist here."
But Friedman made a similar claim on the September 7 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck, alleging that "20 percent of the murder rate is attributable to the [Katrina] evacuees." He added that "the artists and musicians have mostly gone back to New Orleans now, but the crackheads and the thugs -- they like Houston." After Beck laughed at Friedman's remark, Friedman then clarified: "I mean, there are -- there are some good people that are trying to get work."
From the September 18 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:
CARLSON: Now, you referred to Katrina evacuees in Houston as, quote, "thugs and crackheads."
FRIEDMAN: Well --
CARLSON: Now, that's the kind of thing you can say if you're kind of joking around -- and I don't -- I'm not even disagreeing with you --
FRIEDMAN: No, no, I'll stand -
CARLSON: -- but if you're governor, can you say that?
FRIEDMAN: Well, look, I'm a smart guy. There's 250,000 evacuees in Houston.
FRIEDMAN: Surely, surely, I don't think that 250,000 people are thugs and crackheads. There is a small group that came in with them, and that group we have not been able to catch. And they've terrorized the evacuees, as well as the people of Houston. What I'm faulting the governor -- look, I'm not a racist. I'm a realist here.
FRIEDMAN: And what I'm faulting the governor for is not that he brought all these people over but that he didn't -- he invited them to somebody else's house for dinner and he didn't stick around to pick up the tab. We need -- I want to send $100 million bucks to law enforcement in Houston so we can get 1,200 more cops on the street, overtime for all the cops and law enforcement, because the evacuees have been responsible for 20 percent of the homicides in Houston last year.
CARLSON: That is shocking. That is shocking. That's upsetting -- and good for you for having the brass to talk about it in public. You're winning me over, by the way.
From the September 7 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: You are -- you know, the thing I like about you is you're just -- you say it as it is, and there's just not -- there's not a lot of politicians that will do that. So, let's -- let's go through some of them. Let's try -- let's try Houston. Crime rate's up. Katrina evacuees are there. Your solution and your thoughts.
FRIEDMAN: Well, absolutely. The murder rate -- 20 percent of the murder rate is attributable to the evacuees. My thoughts are $100 million bucks for more cops on the street. That would give us 1,000 more cops in Houston, because the artists and musicians have mostly gone back to New Orleans now, but the crackheads and the thugs -- they like Houston. They want to stay there.
BECK: See, this is what -- this is what --
FRIEDMAN: And, I mean, there -- there are some good people there that are trying to get work.
BECK: Right. They're not all crackheads, you'll --
FRIEDMAN: That's right.
BECK: Yeah, OK. Good.