Tucker Carlson on Sen. Burns's comment that terrorists "drive taxicabs in the daytime and kill at night": "I think it's funny. He didn't offend me"September 5, 2006 4:13 PM EDT ››› BRIAN LEVY
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On the September 1 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson said that "there's probably some truth in" Sen. Conrad Burns's (R-MT) statement that terrorists are a "faceless enemy" who "drive taxicabs in the daytime and kill at night." Carlson asserted Burns was talking about "cab drivers who are sympathetic to terror," "terrorists," and "not ... all taxi drivers." Guest Armstrong Williams, a conservative commentator and columnist, called Burns's statement "outrageous" as someone who takes "taxi cabs all the time in our nation's capital." Williams also stated that "unless we have information from our Justice Department or the intelligence community that say that cab drivers go out and drive during the day and commit dastardly acts at night, Burns should apologize." Carlson responded that Williams's judgment was based only on taxi "trips from, say, the train station to the Palm," a restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Carlson prefaced his question to Williams about Burns's comments by stating that Williams is "someone who, you know, spends time thinking about, you know, how America treats its minority groups."
Carlson also claimed during the segment that "[t]here probably are cab drivers who are sympathetic to terror." Later, he asserted that Burns was "attacking terrorists" and not taxicab drivers. Conservative Orlando, Florida, radio host Pat Campbell stated: "Well, I'm not sure who he offended. Did he offend the taxi drivers? Did he offend the terrorists?" But Campbell also called the comments "out of line," "inappropriate for somebody in public office," and something for which Burns "owes an apology." Carlson concluded: "I think it's funny. He didn't offend me."
From the September 1 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:
CARLSON: Well, speaking of hater -- hold on, I want to get to -- there is a Republican, since we've been pounding on this Democrat, who is being accused of hatred, I suppose. Montana Senator Conrad Burns. He's in hot water for comments he rade [sic] recently. We should say this is in the context of a very hotly disputed Senate race. At a fundraiser with Laura Bush, the senator said this country is threatened by what he called, quote, "a faceless enemy" of terrorists who, quote, "drive taxicabs in the daytime and kill at night." So all of a sudden, Laura, he is being called a bigot for saying this. And people are saying, "Well, you know, an outrageous thing to say. It's kind of profiling." I don't know, I think there's probably some truth in what he's saying. I mean, does this offend you?
SCHWARTZ: You know what? I think he needs to keep his mouth shut and his eyes open for the rest of the season --
SCHWARTZ: -- before he loses by double digits.
CARLSON: Wait, why should he keep his mouth shut? There probably are cab drivers who are sympathetic to terror.
SCHWARTZ: This guy -- every time he opens it up, something else comes out. Something else comes out completely outrageous. The "little Guatemalan man," you know, now the taxicab drivers are terrorists. I mean --
CARLSON: No, but what's -- wait, wait, wait slow down, wait, slow down. What's outrageous about it? I don't understand what's outrageous about that at all. What's outrageous about suggesting --
SCHWARTZ: You know the Republican gaffes, the "macaca" with Senator [George] Allen [R-VA], they're all showing that, you know what, they fail to know the value of diversity. And they've made great net gains among minorities, among the Latino --
CARLSON: Diversity? He's attacking -- what, terrorists are part of the diverse tapestry of America now? Look, he's attacking terrorists.
SCHWARTZ: Well, Guatemalan -- I mean everything's -- but what about the -- what about the taxi drivers that come to this country that are legal that are of all different descents? Pakistani, Afghanistan --
CARLSON: Well, he's not attacking all taxi drivers as far as I know, he's just saying --
SCHWARTZ: Well, yes he is, I don't know, it sounded like all of the taxicab drivers are terrorists at night. Come on.
CARLSON: OK, so he lost the taxi driver vote! I mean, come on, let's -- see, this is the problem --
SCHWARTZ: He's not going to get picked up any more on the street, I'll tell you that.
CARLSON: This is the problem. Armstrong Williams, do you see this as a -- an offensive statement? You're someone who, you know, spends time thinking about, you know, how America treats its minority groups. Do you think this is a -- I mean, are you offended when you hear this?
WILLIAMS: Listen, come on Tucker. A, it's an outrageous statement. He's painting everyone with a broad brush. Listen, I am one who take taxicabs all the time in our nation's capital. Most of them are of Muslim descent. We have very engaging conversations, and none of them have ever given me the impression that they would ever do any harm to America. They denounce the silliness of these people who have no value system. They don't value life. You cannot negotiate with them. I think Senator Burns should not -- unless we have information from our Justice Department or intelligence community that say that cab drivers go out and drive during the day and commit dastardly acts at night, he should apologize. And there's nothing to support that.
CARLSON: OK. So what you're saying is because in your trips from, say, the train station to the Palm on 19th Street in D.C. --
WILLIAMS: Only my experiences, Tucker.
CARLSON: -- no cab drivers ever admitted being in Al Qaeda. This is wrong?
WILLIAMS: I don't think our intelligence community has reaffirmed that Carl -- Tucker. Come on now.
CARLSON: OK, "come on now." Hey, Pat, what do you think? Are you offended by this?
CAMPBELL: Well, I'm not sure who he offended. Did he offend the taxi drivers? Did he offend the terrorists? Who should he apologize to? Obviously -- obviously, the comment's out of line. It's totally inappropriate for somebody in public office. He owes an apology. But again, I don't know exactly who he offended.
CARLSON: I think it's funny. He didn't offend me.