The Right defends Tucker Carlson amid calls for boycott

Tucker Carlson speaking at the 2012 CPAC. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Tucker Carlson, controversial Fox News host, finds himself once again defending against calls for boycotts of his advertisers.

Sunday evening, Media Matters published newly discovered recordings of Carlson’s calls in to a shock-jock radio show hosted by “Bubba the Love Sponge”. Carlson spent about an hour a week from 2006 -2011 calling into the show to discuss political and cultural topics with the hosts. Tucker worked for MSNBC for part of that time and then moved to Fox.

In the recordings, Tucker takes controversial positions, at times even shocking the shock-jock hosts.

  • Tucker questioned Warren Jeffs’ being charged with felony child rape, saying that underage marriage is not “the same thing exactly as pulling a child from a bus stop and sexually assaulting that child. … The rapist in this case has made a lifelong commitment to live and take care of the person so it is a little different.”
  • He also called the charges against Jeffs “bullshit” because “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.”
  • While discussing a teacher who had molested a 13 year-old male student, Carlson said that the teachers who have sex with male students “are doing a service to all 13-year-old girls by taking the pressure off. They are a pressure relief valve, like the kind you have on your furnace.”
  • In that same discussion, he asked Bubba if he took his hat off to the student for having sex with his teacher 28 times in one week. When Bubba said, “This kid should get like a Noble Peace Prize”, Carlson replied, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom anyway.”
  • In a discussion about teen-age girls experimenting sexually while talking about Tucker’s 14 year-old daughter going to boarding school, he said, “If it weren’t my daughter I would love that scenario.”
  • Carlson called for the elimination of rape shield laws, saying, “Women seem to be adults to me. I mean, in other words, if you are grievously injured by another person, it’s not your fault. I don’t understand why, if you’re an adult, you just can’t get up and say, “This is what the person did to me.”
  • Tucker agreed with the host when Bubba called Martha Stewart’s daughter, Allison, a vulgar name, then repeated it, saying, “She seems extremely cunty.” He then repeated that comment again, “She does seem a little cunty,” and continues, “I mean you said it; I’m just agreeing with you. I don’t use that word because it’s offensive –“
  • In that same 2006 discussion, he agreed with Bubba’s description of Allison Stewart, “She’s got real big fucking Dumbo teacup for ears,” saying, “I don’t normally laugh at girls’ appearances, just because I think it’s mean. But she — I’m bending the rule for her.”
  • In 2010, Tucker opined about Elena Kagan’s looks, saying “But I do feel sorry for her in that way. I feel sorry for unattractive women. I mean it’s nothing they did. You know, she didn’t. Nobody deserves that. And men are just mean.” He continued, “No, it’s just absolutely fundamental — physically, the problems with her are fundamental. She’s never going to be an attractive woman.” 
  • Carlson called Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears “the biggest white whores in America”, Arianna Huffington a “pig”, Hillary Clinton “anti-penis”, and Oprah Winfrey “anti-man”.
  • He said that what really “gets women going” is to be told “you just need to be quiet and kind of do what you’re told.”
  • He said that women are “extremely primitive, they’re basic, they’re not that hard to understand.”
  • He said that “there is no Canadian woman that you’d want to pay to have sex with.”
  • He said, of a debate with Michael Moore, “I spanked Michael Moore like a bad little girl.” 

Critics of Tucker Carlson have called for a boycott of his remaining advertisers. Tucker weathered another controversy when he said that immigrants make our country “poorer and dirtier and more divided” on his show in December. He lost several advertisers including Pacific Life, IHOP, Ancestry.com, Landrover, and Just For Men in the outrage following those comments.

Tucker responded late Sunday evening, after the Media Matters report came out.

Tucker’s supporters on the right rushed to his defense.

Why It Matters

When one faces a scandal born of one’s own words, the essential question is how one faces it. One can face such a situation with ownership and contrition or dissembling and a refusal to accept responsibility.

To that end, Tucker’s defense that going back a decade and using his own words against him is unfair seems a bit disingenuous in light of his own tactics against his political foes.

No one forced Tucker to call in to Bubba the Love Sponge and say “naughty” and crude things about young girls and boys who have been sexually assaulted, use vulgarity, call women names, laugh at women’s looks, opine about teen-age girls’ sexual experimentation in a conversation about his own daughter, and question the meaning of felony child rape. Furthermore, one could argue that Tucker knew using the C-word was unacceptable even in the moment, because he immediately tried to claim he was simply repeating what the host said.

If one goes on a shock-jock radio program and not only laughs at the shocking things they say but joins in and says things that shock even the shock-jocks, one needs to be prepared to own their own conduct.

Even 13 years later. Even in 2019 when, seemingly, anything goes.

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*Principle above party * Politically Homeless * Ex GOP * Tribalism is stupid* NeverTrump ≠ Pro Hillary. Anti-GOP ≠ Pro Dem. Disagreeing with you ≠ Liberal.