The organizers of the annual Sinai Forum couldn't have picked a better name or better timing for their first lecture of the 55th season. The forum is now presented by Purdue University North Central.
Tucker Carlson, 39, senior campaign correspondent for MSNBC, will headline the opening talk at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at Elston Middle School, 317 Detroit St., in Michigan City.
I'm told that Carlson's talk will, of course, look at the 2008 presidential election.
Up until March, Carlson was hosting MSNBC's "Tucker," described as "a fast-paced conversation" about the day's developments in news, politics, world issues and pop culture. He had landed at MSNBC in February 2005 after parting ways with his longtime network CNN, where he hosted "Crossfire."
He is actually just as associated with a repuation as a long-time print journalist. In addition to his broadcast resume, he has reported news from around world, most recently from Iraq and Lebanon.
But even if you're not a news hound like I am, pouring through magazines and newspapers and keeping the television and radio news on throughout the day, you're still probably at least a little familar with Carlson.
First of all, beside our own late and great Orville Redenbacher, Carlson has made wearing bowties his wardrobe trademark. (He said he stopped for about a year, just to "give his neck a break.")
But what has made Carlson even more famous is his (gulp!) awkward and uncomfortable 2004 on-air argument with Comedy Central's Jon Stewart. S
tewart was a guest on Carlson's "Crossfire" show to discuss the upcoming presidential election between Sen. John Kerry and President George W. Bush.
Stewart called Carlson a "partisan hack" and asked him to "stop hurting America" with what Stewart deemed slanted journalism.
Carlson countered by criticizing Stewart's July 2004 interview with Kerry and accusing him of "sniffing Kerry's throne" and "not asking tough questions."
STEWART: If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome to. I didn't realize that -- and maybe this explains quite a bit -- the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity.
CARLSON: ... I think you're a good comedian. I think your lectures are boring...
STEWART: Now, this is theater. It's obvious. How old are you?
STEWART: And you wear a bow tie. Now, listen, I'm not suggesting that you're not a smart guy, because those are not easy to tie. You're doing theater, when you should be doing debate...
CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?
STEWART: Absolutely.You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. What is wrong with you? (APPLAUSE)
CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.
STEWART: You need to go to one. The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...
CARLSON: I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.
STEWART: No. I'm not going to be your monkey.
CARLSON: We're going to take a quick break.
Shortly after the Stewart interview, CNN announced they were ending their relationship with Carlson, canceling his "Crossfire" show.
However, Carlson has maintained that he knew his "Crossfire" contract wasn't going to be renewed and that he had resigned from CNN many months before Stewart had even been booked on his show.
In August 2006, Carlson appeared on ABC's popular "Dancing with the Stars" and was eleminated after just a few episodes, even though Las Vegas oddsmakers touted talk show host Jerry Springer would be removed long before Carlson.
Carlson later blamed his travel and journalism responsibilities from keeping him from the needed dance rehearsals.
Carlson, who is originally from San Francisco, and his wife Susan Andrews, share four children: Lillie, Hope, Dorothy and Buckley II.
Tickets for Carlson's talk are available by calling (219) 785-5697 or sinaiforum.org.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 219.852.4327.
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