Media reporter for 'The Hill' Joe Concha weighs in on the Jussie Smollett hate crime controversy on Wednesday's 'Tucker Carlson Tonight.'
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: It's looking increasingly possible that the attack you just heard about may not have been the attempted lynching it has been hyped as. But it doesn't matter. It's too late now. To those who only casually follow the news, they will hear only the press' initial breathless coverage which treated the incident as an obvious hate crime, yet another consequence of Donald Trump's America, another Trump voter bashing someone on the street.
Some parts of the media are still treating the story that way despite what we have learned in the last two weeks. A recent piece in the online website, apparently, "Daily Beast" argued that we should believe Smollett on the basis of his skin color. That sort of openly racist politically motivated journalism is increasingly the norm.
Covington worked the same way. Supposedly we could tell that a few high school boys were evil because of the way they looked and the way they smiled and the way their parents presumably voted.
Well, take a look at BuzzFeed's supposed smoking gun of the President ordering his lawyer to lie to Congress. There was no proof it was true. There never was any proof of it, but because it matched an established narrative, everybody knew what to call it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It would be certainly a bombshell information.
JIM SCIUTTO, ANCHOR, CNN: BuzFeed's latest bombshell report.
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: White House is slamming a bombshell report by BuzzFeed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And in a bombshell report from BuzzFeed.
CHUCK TODD, ANCHOR, MSNBC: If the BuzzFeed bombshell is true.
ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR, CNN: The bombshell report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Thesaurus, please. Dumb people have a weakness for news cliches, it's unbelievable. Stuff like that happens every couple of weeks. But nobody in the press ever seems to learn or change? Why is that? Joe Concha writes about this stuff for a living for "The Hill" newspaper and he joins us tonight.
So, Joe, I'm recognizing a repetitive pattern of behavior where people who are supposed to soberly digest the facts and bring them to the public are instead jumping to wild conclusions that comport with their political beliefs and then not apologizing or changing that. Why is that?
JOE CONCHA, MEDIA REPORTER, THE HILL: Because Tucker, how do you learn from when you are a little kid all the way through when you're an adult with a career? You learn by being held accountable for things.
So if you make a major mistake and it's funny because we talked about this, the mistakes are never made, let's put it this way. When was the last time you saw a major mistake in any big journalism piece any big outlet against a Democratic lawmaker.
But when mistakes are made, there is never almost with exceptions ramifications, suspensions, actual firings, so if you know you can get away with something, you just keep doing it.
But one thing I'm noticing with this story here, Tucker, if you google Jussie Smollett and attack, almost every headline I see says "attack." There is no word, and it's very key here before it alleged attack. When you take "alleged" out, it becomes fact. Like Pearl Harbor was attacked. When you take "alleged" out, suddenly it becomes absolute truth.
So, in this case let's put it this way, if I'm a journalist, I remove the noise here. I remove the fact that Smollett is a celebrity. I remove the fact that he is anti-Trump. You know, that's not a big surprise. I remove the fact that these were pro-Trump alleged attackers that went after him and I want to find evidence to support the claim. How do you find the evidence?
Smollett said he was on the phone during the attack with his manager. All right, so a man says he was attacked by two men, right? So if he is on the phone, then, therefore, he should turn over his phone records. When he does, he heavily redacts them and his excuse is that he doesn't want the Chicago Police to see his contacts?
Okay, how about the manager? Has he turned over his phone? Reportedly, he hasn't. So when you take that evidence out of this story, you have to question it.
So when I watch that interview tomorrow with Robin Roberts on ABC, she better press him on that point. Why wouldn't you turn over the only evidence that's available if we haven't seen this on camera?
CARLSON: She is not going to press him on the point. You can be sure about that. But let me ask you this, so I almost feel -- I mean, it looks to me like maybe this guy got over his skis, made up the story. We have seen this a lot. Maybe it's real. I mean, I don't know.
But I do know that two sitting U.S. senators, Harris and Booker both immediately shoot statements calling this a lynching. Now, that scares people. It divides the country. It's racially inflammatory. If it turns out this isn't real, should they be forced to apologize for doing that?
CONCHA: And the only way they will apologize, Tucker, is if the press presses them on that.
CARLSON: Exactly, that's right.
CONCHA: You made this comment. You read back the comment. Now, we have learned and, again, we don't know, but let's say we do learn, what do you have to say now? You know that's not going to happen.
And, look, it's that theme that we talked about over and over again. All Trump stories - not all, almost all come from a foundation of guilty. Whether that's yes, Trump must have collusion with the Russians, therefore, he is guilty. The Covington kids must have attacked the Native American, therefore, he is guilty.
When you come from that foundation, of course, these are the conclusions that are going to be drawn, Tucker.
CARLSON: That's exactly right. I mean, we have known this for generations. Any good editor makes certain that his reporters are honest enough not to act like this. But nobody cares anymore. No one does. Joe Concha, charges thank you. Great to see you.