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On the May 22 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson attacked Democratic presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (NC) for his January 9, 2006, speech at the University of California-Davis, claiming that Edwards "soak[ed] a public university for $55,000 when he's already worth millions." He then asked: "Why the hell is he doing that? What's the possible justification for that?" However, just five days earlier, Carlson had defended the millions of dollars former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani made on the lecture circuit in recent years, saying: "If I make millions giving speeches, I have to get up and perform. I'm selling my talent." Additionally, Carlson made no mention of the fact that UC-Davis charged admission for Edwards' speech, which, combined with sponsorship of the event, offset Edwards' fee, according to Edwards' campaign.
From the May 22 edition of Tucker:
CARLSON: But -- OK. You may be absolutely right. John Edwards is actually a great speaker -- I agree with you there. He's a great speaker. However, this is a guy whose campaign platform contains all this talk about alleviating poverty, sympathy for the average college student working two jobs to make it through to pay off student loans, et cetera, and he's soaking a public university for $55,000 when he's already worth millions. Why the hell is he doing that? What's the possible justification for that?
However, on the May 17 edition of Tucker, Carlson defended Giuliani for earning money delivering speeches:
PETER BEINART (New Republic editor-at-large): We have a political system in which people hold office and then, in between holding office, they go and find a way very quickly to make a lot of money. That's what happens. Rudy Giuliani did it by the law firms and speeches. He did it with a hedge fund. It's the way things happen.
CARLSON: No, but here's the difference. Here's the difference: If I make millions giving speeches, I have to get up and perform. I'm selling my talent. I'm serious. If you are by -- see, I think the key to this is the hedge fund. It's not that he's rich -- every liberal is rich. They're all rich. They're all -- I'm serious -- they're all a bunch of limousine, private jet people. You know what I mean? They all are.
As Media Matters for America has noted, Giuliani reportedly charged much more per speaking engagement than the amount Edwards received from UC-Davis, including for a speech Giuliani gave in 2006 at Oklahoma State University, which cost his sponsor $100,000 and an additional $47,000 for the use of a private jet.
Moreover, UC-Davis offset at least part of Edwards' fee with proceeds from ticket sales. On the May 22 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley reported that the Edwards campaign claimed "it was a paid speech, but there were tickets for it -- somewhere between $17.50 for students; about $40 for adults. So it paid for itself." According to UC-Davis' Robert & Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, tickets for the speech ranged from $17.50 to $45. A May 21 entry to the San Francisco Chronicle's Politics Blog -- which first disclosed the amount Edwards received for the speech -- noted that he spoke to "a crowd of 1,787," meaning that if everyone paid admission, ticket sales would have brought in anywhere between $31,272 to $80,415.