Mike Carlson is best known on these shores for his affable, informative and occasionally eccentric coverage of American football. He inspires the reverence of an entire army of British NFL fans who have spent decades listening to, and learning from him.
He was once described by fellow broadcaster and former colleague Colin Murray as “Part college professor, part quirky uncle”.
A penchant for Hawaiian shirts and a love of professional wrestling are points of note, if not trade marks. Don’t be fooled, though. Carlson can speak intelligently and articulately on…. well…. pretty much anything. I was delighted, then, that he found time (between podcast recordings and requests from Al-Jazeera) to speak with me about the impending US election.
Ive written on the roots of the crooked Hillary script for Newstalk Ireland… https://t.co/XTrd2SmVff
— Michael Carlson (@Carlsonsports) November 6, 2016
Our conversation starts with his explanation of “the false equivalency offered by the media”: the idea that two events or actions that are not comparable are given the same coverage and the same implied significance by news outlets which, in turn, influences the public’s perception.
“There is no equivalency between the email story (of Hillary) and the literally dozens of stories of corruption behind Donald Trump.”
Carlson believes Donald Trump’s insistence on calling his rival ‘Crooked Hillary’ and the mainstream media’s relentless coverage of it has allowed the public to believe that Clinton is on a par with or perhaps worse than the Republican candidate.
“[So] Hillary Clinton, who is not a particularly likeable candidate in the first place, is now considered by a large part of the electorate as a criminal who should be in jail. That is actually a frightening prospect.”
Wow, Crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an "angel" without checking her past, which is terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016
Carlson sees similarities with the debate over the UK’s EU referendum coverage.
“Every factual statement from 10 experts on one side would be given the same time as someone interviewed on the other side even though their preponderance of facts were leaning clearly one way.”
His open support for Bernie Sanders means that he is more than willing to offer his opinion on Donald J Trump. Put simply, the billionaire tycoon’s candidacy is, he says, “mind-boggling”. Carlson was quick to point out that this was “not an aberration” though.
“It was only a couple of years ago that the Republican Party thought Sarah Palin was a proper person to be standing one step away from the White House.”
Carlson also concedes that there may be a “rightwing misogyny” that has carried over from the times of the often slated First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. Franklin D. Roosevelt was unpopular with the right wing press and his wife was singled out for criticism that has otherwise been reserved for Mrs Clinton.
What is certain is that Carlson has never experienced a time when both candidates have generated such ill feeling among the American people. “One candidate, certainly [but not both]”
We have never seen an election like it. Many will not want to see another like it again.