Do our words matter?
If the answer to that question is yes — and I believe it is — then Tucker Carlson should apologize.
On Sunday night, the popular Fox News host found himself at the center of a social media firestorm after the left-leaning Media Matters for America published years-old audio revealing “misogynistic and perverted comments” made by Carlson between 2006 and 2011.
— Media Matters (@mmfa) March 10, 2019
Sure, this was several years ago and Carlson was calling into a shock jock radio host’s show and was potentially playing to an audience, but at 40 years old, it’s not like he was a teenager. Carlson should have known better than to call into a show called “Bubba the Love Sponge.”
And regardless of where he made the comments or who found them, they are wrong. It’s objectively wrong to call women “whores” and “c***y” and it’s unjustifiable to defend — jokingly or not — the crimes of a Mormon fundamentalist, Warren Jeffs, who orchestrated and enabled child marriage and sexually abused underage victims.
Just a few weeks ago, both conservatives and liberals wanted Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to resign after unearthed college photos showed him to either be dressed in blackface or wearing a KKK robe – actions that happened during his youth.
If it matters for Northam, it matters for Carlson.
On Sunday night, I was asked who the Fox News host owes the apology to, given he made the grotesque comments a decade ago on a radio program. My answer was simple: He owes the public an apology.
Carlson didn’t physically hurt anyone and he didn’t commit a crime, his words are many years old and they were published by MMFA, a liberal group with an unmistakable agenda. All of that can be — and is — true. But that doesn’t make his words any less wrong.
Why should he apologize?
Carlson should apologize for the same reason Northam should apologize: it is the biblically right thing to do.
Our words and our actions speak volumes about who we are and what we believe. In Ephesians 4:29, the apostle Paul wrote, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Carlson’s words — uttered in public when he was a public figure — are certainly not edifying in any way, but are instead dismissive and mean-spirited.
On Sunday night, though, when he released his initial response, Carlson refused to apologize for his “naughty” words, inviting any critics to come on his nightly show to discuss their issues with his record.
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) March 11, 2019
The reality is this: The words MMFA revealed are, in fact, Carlson’s words. Regardless of the source or the time, they are his comments, and offensive language doesn’t come with an expiration date.
Can he change? Absolutely. Do I think Carlson should lose his job? No. Do I think he should publicly admit he was wrong? Yes, because James 5:16 encourages Christians to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
Public confession has deep spiritual value; it’s not an admission for admission’s sake. The public confession of wrongdoing is both humiliating and liberating, and God promises to meet us in that space.
James 4:10 calls us to humble ourselves before God and he will lift us up. And in Proverbs 3:34, Solomon wrote that God “shows favor to the humble and oppressed.”
We all make mistakes. Carlson is no better or worse than any of us; he just got caught. Authentic contrition for corrupt language should be met with genuine forgiveness.
Rather than burn the man’s career to the ground, he — like Northam — should be given the chance to apologize and then we, as a collective society, should forgive him.