An Open Letter to Tucker Carlson
By Jesse J Rogers
Dear Mr. Carlson,
I write you this open letter as a fellow citizen taking up in good faith your challenge to “always tell the truth”. I seek not to diminish you but uplift and encourage both you and your audience.
Nevertheless, for me to tell the truth it is necessary to challenge parts of your commentary where I don’t believe you’ve been either fair or accurate.
In particular, today I want to respond to this video which, in less than a week, has been watched more than 6.7 million times.
Now, I do like your initial comments. You state that if after all the questions have been answered it becomes clear that Joe Biden is the legitimate winner of the election then you will accept the results. As you put it, “we’re Americans first, and want what is best for this country”.
I appreciate and share those sentiments. As I wrote before the election:
In 2016, I congratulated President Trump and expressed my hope that America would flourish under his leadership. In 2020, I am prepared to do so again if that is what voters decide.
But there is much you go on to say which I find quite unfortunate, especially since I take you at your word that your intention is sincerely to lower the temperature on the tensions our nation is experiencing. Below are the four items I want to address.
“They Apparently Rose From Their Graves to Vote”
You cite a handful of votes from dead people in a sea of millions of votes as an important question about the legitimacy of the vote which needs to be answered. Yet surely you must realize that this happens every election. The same day that your video aired, FactCheck.org released this entry which addresses so much of what you seem perplexed about.
This excerpt from Robert Farley’s piece may be particularly helpful to you.
“Yes, every once in a while, it turns out that someone votes in the name of someone who’s passed away,” Justin Levitt, a law professor at Loyola Law School and a voter fraud expert, told us via email. “A handful of votes in a sea of millions. It’s not OK, but it doesn’t swing results.”
Moreover, the conclusion of the article is typical of most of the expert commentary I’ve read.
Levitt said he sees claims about widespread cases of dead people voting every election season, but upon closer inspection, “Far more frequently, the claims collapse. Over and over and over and over. … [F]rom past experience, I’d bet that administrative error and list-matching problems explain the vast majority of whatever’s here.”
Richard Hasen, a law and political science professor at the University of California, Irvine and a nationally recognized election law expert, agreed.
“I have not yet seen any evidence showing dead people voting in Pennsylvania, a very common allegation that seldom pans out,” Hasen told us via email. “But even if a few cases were found, it would not invalidate the election. One would have to show, at minimum, more illegal votes than the margin between the candidates. That would be quite an extreme scale of fraud. Let’s see what the evidence is.”
“Let’s see what the evidence is” strikes me as a very far cry from what you say at “telling voters to shut up is never enough.” (2 minutes and 4 seconds into the video). Or at 4:51 “so much for those claims that voter fraud never happens. Of course it happens. They knew it happened when they told us it would never happen because they’re liars.”
Who, exactly, are these liars?
Unless you can back this up with specific examples of experts claiming that “voter fraud never happens”, then your commentary here appears to be a severe misrepresentation of how authorities and media have been communicating to the public.
Indeed, your own segment showing the Georgia official who prepared the public by acknowledging “we’re going to find illegal ballots” in and of itself blows up the case you’re trying to present. As far as I can tell, “shut up, there is never any voter fraud” doesn’t appear to be the position that any Democrats, election officials, or mainstream media, let alone all of them, are taking.
If you can’t cite examples of officials and journalists talking this way, then your “because they’re liars” narrative seems deeply irresponsible as well as false.
“Fraud Took Place, and That Should Horrify Us”
You clarify at the outset that changing the election results is not the whole point of what you’re trying to do. “The real point is that fraud took place, and that should horrify us.” (5:15)
“You can’t have fraud in elections, because then no one will believe in elections.”
This reminds me of the primary message of Black Lives Matter, a movement that you’ve been very critical of. What they have been trying to convey is that you can’t have abuse of power by police because then no one will trust the police.
Neither of these beliefs strikes me as absurd, at least in spirit. We Americans obviously want our votes to be accurately counted and our decisions upheld by the system. We also want to be able to trust that our police follow the very laws which they are enforcing.
But is it reasonable to expect that no police officer in the country will ever violate a law, abuse the rights of a citizen, or wrongly kill someone?
Of course not. There’s always room for improvement and we should listen to each other in order to take those opportunities, but we have to evaluate our police forces against the standard of reality, not some fictional perfection. That might come as little comfort to me if I or my loved one were on the receiving end of police brutality. But intellectually I understand that this is a rare event in America compared to what it is in many other nations that are not so fortunate as us. My disposition towards the police is primarily one of gratitude for the difficult job they overwhelmingly do with honor and integrity. Not suspicion.
Similarly, as discussed earlier, some amount of voter fraud is always to be expected. We do not exist in a perfect world, populated exclusively by perfect people. Maybe that would come as little comfort if my vote happened to be one that was illegally discarded, or if it was diluted by a significant number of fraudulent ballots. But again, I understand that the integrity of our imperfect election system is a monument to human achievement, second to none, and is something to be proud of. My disposition towards the volunteers whose heroic efforts underwrite the legitimacy of our elections is also primarily one of gratitude, not suspicion.
“Accept Joe Biden Now or You’ll Never Work Again”
At 5:50, you develop the idea that bosses will retaliate against people who don’t accept Joe Biden as president.
Your caricature of Michelle Obama’s tweet strikes me as particularly strange so I’ll address that first.
This single image is profoundly contradictory. So much so that it is what compelled me to take the time to write this.
You quote the first sentence of her tweet and then say “endquote”… but that quite obviously wasn’t the end of the quote. We can see it with our own eyes! You go on to speculate about her meaning by suggesting “that’s the unity message. Let’s remember who disobeyed. Let’s hurt them.”
That is in complete contradiction to what she actually followed up her first sentence with. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to reach out to these folks in the years ahead and connect with them on what unites us.” I frankly don’t know how you’re taking that sentence and coming away with the interpretation “let’s remember who disobeyed. Let’s hurt them.”
You at least read the full quote for Mr. Tapper, but I think you took him out of context.
Jake Tapper is, by my reading, offering practical advice to countrymen who are in an emotionally vulnerable place.
I personally know some Democrats who have said extreme things on social media in emotional moments. Those rants are not representative of the fullness of who these people really are, but it can cause lasting damage to a person’s reputation no matter their political affiliation.
This isn’t about taking sides. Even though I’m at times highly critical of the president, as an employer I frankly don’t want to hire employees who can’t maintain control over their Trump Derangement Syndrome. I don’t want my staff belittling valued customers that walk in wearing MAGA hats. Political extremism and lack of emotional control is generally bad for business.
Why present everything as an ominous threat when there are far more generous interpretations possible?
“If You Can’t Keep Your Emotions in Check… You’re a Child, Go Do Something Else”
At 10:30, immediately after Don Lemon’s joyful expression of relief and happiness, you make the above statement.
I find that stance quite odd, given your unaired yet virally famous exchange with guest Rutger Bregman. Don Lemon’s emotional outburst humanizes him, nothing about that was offensive. By contrast, your rudeness towards a guest was wrong even by your own admission.
Emotion isn’t a deadly sin. “Facts don’t care about feelings” I’ve heard it said. Maybe not. But perhaps people should care about one another’s feelings a bit more than we sometimes do.
Our faith in America is regularly tested. It’s a big country, a lot of things happen, and a lot of those things are bad. But that doesn’t mean our country is bad. I appreciated your reminder of that on your show yesterday.
“Don’t let cable news fool you; don’t let us fool you. This is a profoundly nice country, the nicest in the world.”
Other than the metric system, which we’ll have to talk about another time, I agreed with all your commentary on that segment.
In moments of frustration and disappointment, I remember how well Winston Churchill summed us up when said, “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they have tried everything else.” It is a hilarious punchline, but also a dear compliment. After all, “Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Having exhausted all other possibilities, I have faith that when the time comes President Trump will accept defeat gracefully. Soon, the half of America that wants renewal and the half that wants transformation will work together to build a future we can all be proud of. It won’t be perfect. There’s a lot to negotiate. We’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way.
But as one of America’s greatest visionaries told us, “we must learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools.”
So as the next chapter of the American story begins, may we all choose wisely, drawing from the lesson of Abraham Lincon that “the best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.”