Tucker Carlson’s legacy of racist, misogynist and anti-LGBTQ commentary

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Tucker Carlson, the highest-rated cable news anchor on TV, was fired without notice on Monday. The firing sent shockwaves through both media and politics as Carlson was a potent force in both spheres. While pundits raced to comment and news media tried to pinpoint a reason, women, LGBTQ people, and people of color celebrated. 

Carlson was notorious for relentless attacks on gay and trans people and for his dismissive and misogynist commentary about women. Among Carlson’s most consistent targets was Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who he attacked so often there are a series of YouTube videos with Buttigieg’s rebuttals. Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was another Carlson target, most recently over the near-fatal assault on her husband Paul, in which he sustained two skull fractures and other injuries. 

Carlson was also a main promoter of the false gays-as-groomers narrative and hosted both Libs of Tik Tok’s Chaya Raichik and the head of Gays Against Groomers, Jaimee Michell, on his show. Carlson was also outspoken on drag shows, calling for Fox News viewers to arm themselves against Drag Queen Story Hours. Carlson also blamed and attacked LGBTQ people in the wake of the Club Q shooting.

Why Tucker Carlson was fired is perhaps less important than looking at his years at “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News from 2016 to 2023 and noting all the times he wasn’t fired. While he hosted the top-rated show on cable news, averaging 2.6 million viewers, there were a myriad of things Carlson wasn’t fired for that included a plethora of homophobic, transphobic and misogynist commentary as well as racist, xenophobic and ableist statements and editorials. 

It also included the many lies he told about the 2020 election being stolen and fraudulent and his constant falsehoods about Dominion voting machines that led to Fox News’s historic settlement last week of $787.5 million for defamation. 

The defamation suit no doubt played a role in his firing, for which Carlson was disallowed the chance of a final “goodbye” show. He ended his last broadcast on Friday, April 21, wishing viewers the “best weekend” and telling them he’d see them Monday. 

But it wasn’t just the Dominion lawsuit. It was what it revealed about Carlson’s behavior at Fox— which dovetailed with other lawsuits against Fox News in which Carlson was a central figure.

Carlson is being sued by Abby Grossberg, his former senior booking producer. Grossberg has filed two separate lawsuits, accusing Carlson and Fox of sexism, harassment and a hostile work environment. As texts in the Dominion case uncovered, Carlson called former Donald Trump attorney Sidney Powell Carlson the c-word in a text message that was made public as part of the Dominion Voting Systems’s lawsuit against Fox News, saying, “That c**t. I hope she’s punished.” It is this language about women that Grossberg cites as part of her lawsuit.

Joan Walsh, a long-time columnist for The Nation and the former editor-in-chief of Salon, wrote in a column after Carlson was fired that he had called her the c word several times. Walsh also notes in her detailed reminder of Carlson’s gross, extreme misogyny and toxic masculinity and the role they may have played in his ouster, that at Fox News, Carlson was known for “saying the c-word all the time.”

According to various sources, Carlson’s “repeated use of the c-word” was “a key factor” in his termination. 

Yet for that time between 2016 and 2023, after Carlson took over the slot formerly held by Megyn Kelly, Carlson built his brand on egregious racist rants and grotesque depictions of LGBTQ people. Throughout the midterm elections in 2022, Carlson made trans girls and women in sports a focal point. But back in 2019, in a statement to The Daily Beast, Carlson wrote, “Probably because I have three daughters, it’s painful to watch biological men steal athletic opportunities from girls. And it’s completely bewildering to watch so-called progressives cheer it on. They should be ashamed.” 

Carlson has said that trans people are a “cancer on the country” and that teachers who discuss sexual orientation and gender identity with students should “get beaten up.”  

On his news website, The Daily Caller, and on the Fox News site, Carlson has written recently about trans people. After the mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Carlson wrote that “the trans movement is targeting Christians,” because the shooter, who had attended the school, identified as a trans man. Carlson said throughout the column that being trans conferred perks and elite status, noting, “Identifying as trans, whatever, again, its downsides, does convey status in this country, which is why so many young people now do.” He also claimed, “Trans ideology claims dominion over nature itself.”

On Good Friday, Carlson said in a different column, “Transgenderism is the most dangerous extremist movement in the United States.” In this column Carlson attacks the Biden administration and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, an out lesbian. He also asserts, “Transgenderism is the most dangerous extremist movement in the United States….This is a group that has for years been committing acts of violence at rates much higher than you would expect across a cross-section of the population. To give a few examples, last year, a trans girl tried to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh at his home. Then a self-described nonbinary shooter, also a member of the cult, murdered five people at her Colorado nightclub. In 2019, a trans teenager shot nine people in a high school, killing one, that was in Denver. In 2018, a mentally ill transgenderist shot up a Rite Aid distribution center in Aberdeen, Maryland. That massacre killed four.” 

There have been more than 160 mass shootings this year alone, yet Carlson mentioned three in three separate years as evidence of a wave of trans violence. 

It’s also important to remember how crucial Carlson’s commentary on race has been in the so-called culture wars where he has made a point of linking people of color — Black men and teens and immigrants in particular — to crime in the U.S. Carlson has also repeatedly thugified Black victims of police violence, no matter how young. And he has made the GOP bugaboo of Critical Race Theory an obsessive line of rhetoric

Carlson also has dismissed slavery as not that big a deal, while also being a prime rhetoritician of the “Great Replacement Theory” of white supremacy and promoted a white ethno-state. 

As for racial bias, Carlson said, “The problem is there aren’t that many hate crimes occurring in the country.” 

Carlson’s racism is legendary. He’s said immigration “makes our own country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided.” He’s called white supremacy a “hoax.” He claims racist and other hate speech is “a made-up category designed to gut the First Amendment and shut you up.”

Carlson’s final show highlighted his new special, “Let Them Eat Bugs” in which he claims “global elites” want to force people to replace meat with insects. He said, “It’s part of a larger agenda.”

Carlson, who had two more years left on his contract, has retained an attorney, but at press time had yet to issue a statement about his firing. Neither Carlson nor Fox News responded to PGN’s request for comment.

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