A brief history of every time Fox News didn't fire Tucker Carlson

Joe Sommerlad@JoeSommerlad
Wednesday 13 March 2019 08:15
Celebrities

Fox News anchor and Donald Trump cheerleader Tucker Carlson is currently under fire after a string of ugly comments he made between 2006 and 2011 resurfaced online.

Left-wing non-profit organisation Media Matters recirculated a series of offensive remarks made by the broadcaster on Todd Clem's Bubba the Love Sponge radio show on WWBA out of Tampa, Florida, which were misogynistic or racist in nature or made light of sexual abuse.

Among the "highlights" of the selection was his comparing women to dogs: "They’re extremely primitive, they’re basic, they’re not that hard to understand. And one of the things they hate more than anything is weakness in a man."

In a similar vain, Carlson said of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan: "I feel sorry for unattractive women. I mean it’s nothing they did." He likewise described publisher Ariana Huffington as a "pig" and TV personality Alexis Stewart as "extremely c***y".

Sexual experimentation among schoolgirls? “If it weren’t my daughter, I would love that scenario,” he enthused.

As for Iraq, it's "a crappy place filled with a bunch of semi-literate primitive monkeys".

In a clip from 2009, he is heard defending Warren Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a polygamy cult known for arranging marriages between adult men and underage girls.

“He’s not accused of touching anybody; he is accused of facilitating a marriage between a 16-year-old girl and a 27-year-old man," Carlson is heard to say. "That’s the accusation. That’s what they’re calling felony rape... That’s bulls***. I’m sorry. Now this guy may be... may be a child rapist, I’m just telling you that arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old and a 27-year-old is not the same as pulling a stranger off the street and raping her.”

Jeffs was convicted on two counts of child sexual assault and sent to prison for life in 2011.

But rather than apologise, Tucker Carlson took to the air to attack the "great American outrage machine".

"It’s pointless to try to explain how the words were spoken in jest or taken out of context or in any case bear no resemblance to what you actually think or would want for the country. None of that matters. Nobody cares. You know the role you’re required to play: You are a sinner, begging the forgiveness of Twitter," he frothed on Tucker Carlson Tonight.

His belligerence was applauded by Donald Trump Jr, the president's son.

Trump Sr, incidentally, tweeted Carlson's thoughts on the decline of "fake news" outlets The New Yorker and The Washington Post as recently as 5 March.

Of his employers, the TV host had nothing but praise for their refusal to condemn his remarks:

Fox News is behind us, as they have been since the very first day... Toughness is a rare quality in a TV network, and we’re grateful for that.

The right-wing broadcaster has so far stood by their man but this scandal is only the latest Tucker Carlson has brought upon himself.

He first joined the channel from MSNBC in 2009 - at the height of his association with Bubba the Love Sponge - appearing as a panellist, covering for Sean Hannity and hosting weekend episodes of Fox and Friends before being given his own show in November 2016.

Tucker Carlson Tonight opened with 3.7m viewers, higher ratings than recent episodes of the programme it replaced, On the Record. It grew in prominence when Tonight was rescheduled to replace Megyn Kelly's show in January 2017 and again when it was moved to replace The O'Reilly Factor. The loss of Kelly and Bill O'Reilly, the latter the subject of sexual harassment allegations along with former boss Roger Ailes, left Tucker Carlson among Fox's most popular faces.

Under the Trump administration, Fox has been accused of acting as the propaganda arm of the White House by The New Yorker and as the home of "white anxiety" by CNN.

Carlson has thrived in this environment but has often sailed close to the wind in entertaining white nationalist sentiments and, arguably, been lucky to escape dismissal.

On 22 February, for instance, he chuckled along with Canadian right-wing cultural commentator Mark Steyn, who said on his show African-Americans needed to "move on" from slavery: “The reparations thing, eventually, as the decades go by, becomes ridiculous.”

Two days earlier he had gotten into a heated argument with Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, the star of this year's World Economic Forum in Davos when he called out billionaires engaged in tax evasion.

The author of Utopia for Realists was invited on and dared to criticise Fox's conservative agenda and asked why President Trump had failed to release his tax returns.

“What the Murdochs basically want you to do is to scapegoat immigrants instead of talking about tax avoidance,“ Bregman told the presenter.

You are a millionaire funded by billionaires. You’re not part of the solution Mr Carlson. You’re part of the problem actually.

Infuriated, Carlson said: “Why don’t you go f*** yourself, you tiny brain? And I hope this gets picked up, because you’re a moron... I tried to give you a fair hearing, but you were too f***ing annoying.”

The interview was canned by Fox but Bregman had his own recording and leaked it, much to the embarrassment of Carlson and Fox. He's clearly enjoying the current furore too:

In December, Carlson's contention the US had become a "dirtier" country due to its acceptance of immigrants caused at least 20 major advertisers to pull their commercials from Fox.

“We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our country poorer and dirtier and more divided,” he said, joining in with the same anti-asylum seeker scaremongering the president has used to justify the construction of his much promised US-Mexico border wall.

Personal finance website NerdWallet, insurance company Pacific Life, online design marketplace Minted and fitness training brand Bowflex were among those to desert the channel.

On that occasion, Carlson again told his viewers he was the real victim: "The enforcers scream 'Racist!' on Twitter until everybody gets intimidated and changes the subject to the Russia investigation or some other distraction."

In September, he was criticised for running a feature critical of multiculturalism. "How precisely is diversity our strength?" he asked. "Can you think of other institutions, such as marriage or military units, in which the less people have in common, the more cohesive they are?"

And in August, he featured a segment on his show warning of the South African government seizing land from white farmers, which inspired President Trump to issue a tweet ordering his secretary of state Mike Pompeo to investigate.

Carlson had accused Pompeo of ignoring an issue that "should be getting worldwide attention". In reality, there was little evidence to support the conservative nightmare of Boers being targeted in a spirit of post-apartheid retribution and the president has conspicuously not returned to the subject.

In March, another feature addressed a National Geographic article on demographic change in the town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, which has seen an influx of Hispanic citizens since the millennium. "Most immigrants are nice... [but] this is more change than human beings are designed to digest,” Carlson suggested to his prime-time audience.

The list goes on.

Ultimately, as Vox has noted, Tucker Carlson's idea of the America he would like to live in was revealed in an interview with American Conservative, in which he said how much he liked living in the affluent Washington suburb of Kent: "We have wonderful neighbours, and we love it. And what’s not to love? Our neighbourhood looks exactly like it did in 1955."

More: Tucker Carlson defends convicted sex abuser and calls women ‘primitive’ in unearthed recording

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