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Television

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson faces backlash after vulgar audio recordings resurface

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Fox News’ Tucker Carlson is under fire over offensive remarks he previously made.
(Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times)

Unearthed recordings of Tucker Carlson making vulgar and sexist remarks, defending statutory rape and repeatedly using a crude reference to female genitals have led to calls for Fox News to fire the evening host.

Fueled by the hashtag #FireTuckerCarlson, the backlash comes as the conservative network is taking heat for comments made by another of its top hosts, Jeanine Pirro, which led to a rare rebuke of talent by Fox News.

On Sunday, the watchdog group Media Matters for America, which is devoted to correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media, resurfaced numerous call-in appearances Carlson made on the shock-jock radio show “The Bubba the Love Sponge Show” between 2006 and 2011.

Transcripts and a montage of the audio recordings feature Carlson degrading women based on their looks and sex appeal. He also slurs several prominent women, including Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, Martha Stewart’s daughter Alexis Stewart, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, socialite Paris Hilton and singer Britney Spears.

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He also talks about sex workers, trophy wives and praises a 13-year-old who was molested by a teacher. (Warning: this link to the recording contains offensive language.)

The recordings mostly hail from the time Carlson was a conservative political commentator for MSNBC, where he worked from 2005 to 2008. In 2009, he joined Fox News, on which he hosts “Tucker Carlson Tonight” live five nights a week.

As #FireTuckerCarlson gained traction Sunday night, Carlson took to Twitter to address the recordings. But rather than “express the usual ritual of contrition,” he advised people to watch his show and invited anyone who disagrees with his views “to come on and explain why.”

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Representatives for Fox News did not respond to The Times’ request for comment on Carlson.

Carlson came under fire in late 2018 after he made on-air comments that described mass immigration as making the country “poorer and dirtier and more divided.” Advertisers such as Lexus, Pfizer, Takeda, Voya, IHOP, Jaguar, Pacific Life, Ancestry and SodaStream publicly said they removed their advertisements from his show. The network stood by him then.

Though Fox News has not yet commented on Carlson, it condemned Pirro, who drew criticism over the weekend for her remarks about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s hijab and whether the Minnesota Democrat’s religious beliefs opposed the Constitution.

“We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar,” the network said in a statement to The Times. “They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”

Omar thanked Fox News for its response on Monday, tweeting: “No one’s commitment to our constitution should be questioned because of their faith or country of birth.”

Pirro responded to the controversy in a separate statement provided by the network, and invited Omar to appear on her show, “Justice With Judge Jeanine.”

“I’ve seen a lot of comments about my opening statement from Saturday night’s show and I did not call Rep. Omar un-American,” Pirro said. “My intention was to ask a question and start a debate, but of course because one is Muslim does not mean you don’t support the Constitution. I invite Rep. Omar to come on my show any time to discuss all of the important issues facing America today.”

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Twitter: @NardineSaad


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