Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson (born May 16, 1969) is an American conservative political commentator for Fox News. Carlson is also co-founder and former editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller website and formerly hosted MSNBC's Tucker and co-hosted CNN's Crossfire. Carlson hosts Tucker Carlson Tonight, which moved from 9 p.m. ET to 8 p.m., Fox News Channel's number one prime time spot where previously The O'Reilly Factor aired.
Tucker McNear Carlson|
May 16, 1969
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Education||St. George's School|
|Alma mater||Trinity College (BA)|
|Occupation||News anchor, commentator, pundit, and columnist|
|Spouse(s)||Susan Andrews (m. 1991)|
Lisa McNear Lombardi
Carlson was born in San Francisco, California, the elder son of Richard Warner Carlson, a former Los Angeles news anchor and U.S. ambassador to the Seychelles, who was also president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and director of Voice of America. His mother is the former Lisa McNear Lombardi, and his stepmother is the former Patricia Caroline Swanson, an heiress to the Swanson frozen-food fortune (daughter of Gilbert Carl Swanson and granddaughter of Carl A. Swanson) and a niece of Senator J. William Fulbright.
Carlson has a brother, Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson. According to a profile in People magazine, "Tucker and younger brother Buckley were raised in La Jolla, California, by their father and stepmother, Patricia, after their mother left home when Tucker was 6." While living in La Jolla, Tucker briefly attended La Jolla Country Day School before relocating to the East Coast.
He attended St. George's School, a boarding school in Middletown, Rhode Island. After graduation, he studied at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he graduated in 1992 with a B.A. in history.
Carlson began his journalism career as a member of the editorial staff of Policy Review, a national conservative journal then published by The Heritage Foundation, and since acquired by the Hoover Institution. He later worked as a reporter at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper in Little Rock, Arkansas, and at The Weekly Standard.
As a magazine and newspaper journalist, Carlson has reported from around the world. He has been a columnist for New York and Reader's Digest. He has also written for Esquire, The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, and The Daily Beast.
Carlson joined CNN as its youngest anchor ever at the time, remaining at the network until February 2005. Carlson got his television start in 2000 as co-host of The Spin Room opposite Bill Press.
In 2001 Carlson was appointed co-host of Crossfire, where he represented the political right. During the same period, he also hosted a weekly public affairs program on PBS, Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered.
One of Carlson's most memorable appearances on Crossfire was his October 2004 heated exchange with Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, prior to the 2004 presidential election. After their televised confrontation, Carlson recalls, Stewart stayed at CNN several hours after the show to discuss the issues that he raised on the air. "It was heartfelt," Carlson said, "He [Stewart] needed to do this."
In January 2005, CNN suddenly announced they were ending their relationship with Carlson and would soon cancel Crossfire. CNN chief Jonathan Klein told Carlson on January 4, 2005, that the network had decided not to renew his contract. Carlson has said that he had already resigned from CNN and Crossfire long before Stewart was booked as a guest, telling host Patricia Duff: "I resigned from Crossfire in April , many months before Jon Stewart came on our show, because I didn't like the partisanship, and I thought in some ways it was kind of a pointless conversation ... each side coming out, you know, 'Here's my argument', and no one listening to anyone else. [CNN] was a frustrating place to work."
Carlson's early evening show, Tucker (originally titled The Situation With Tucker Carlson), premiered on June 13, 2005, on MSNBC.
Carlson also hosted a late afternoon weekday wrap-up for MSNBC during the 2006 Winter Olympics, during which he attempted to learn how to play various Olympic sports. In July 2006, he reported live for Tucker from Haifa, Israel, during the 2006 Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. While in the Middle East, he also hosted MSNBC Special Report: Mideast Crisis. He appeared regularly on Verdict with Dan Abrams as a panelist in political discussions.
Tucker lasted fewer than three full seasons. The network announced its cancellation due to low ratings on March 10, 2008, and the final episode aired on March 14, 2008. Brian Stelter of The New York Times noted that "during Mr. Carlson's tenure, MSNBC's evening programming moved gradually to the left. His former time slots, 6 and 9 p.m., were then occupied by two liberals, Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow." Carlson stated that the network had changed a lot and "they didn't have a role for me."
In May 2009, Fox News announced that Carlson was being hired as a Fox News contributor. He was a frequent guest panelist on Fox's late-night satire show Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld, made frequent appearances on the All-Star Panel segment of Special Report with Bret Baier, was a substitute host of Hannity in Sean Hannity's absence, and produced a Fox News special titled Fighting for Our Children's Minds.
In March 2013, it was announced that Carlson was tapped to co-host the weekend editions of Fox & Friends; he had been a contributor and frequent guest host on the program. He replaced Dave Briggs, who left the news channel to join the NBC Sports Network in January 2013. Beginning in April, Carlson officially joined co-hosts Alisyn Camerota and Clayton Morris on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
On November 14, 2016, Carlson started hosting a new show on Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, which debuted as "the network's most watched telecast of the year in the time slot". Carlson replaced Brit Hume, who hosted the show On the Record on an interim basis at 7 p.m. ET when longtime host Greta Van Susteren departed the Fox News broadcast in September 2016.
The broadcast aired at 7 p.m. ET each weeknight until January 9, 2017, when Carlson's show replaced Megyn Kelly at the 9 p.m. ET time slot after she left Fox News. In March 2017, Tucker Carlson Tonight was the most watched cable program in the 9 p.m. time slot. On April 19, 2017, it was announced that Tucker Carlson Tonight would take over Fox News' 8 p.m. timeslot following the cancellation of The O'Reilly Factor, following over sexual harassment allegations against Bill O'Reilly.
Neoconservative pundit Bill Kristol described the views Carlson expressed on his show as "close now to racism, white — I mean, I don't know if it's racism exactly — but ethno-nationalism of some kind, let's call it." Carlson responded that Kristol "discredited himself years ago."
Carlson reportedly took four-hour-a-day ballroom dance classes in preparation for the competition, and mourned "missed classes" during an MSNBC assignment in Lebanon. "It's hard for me to remember the moves", he stated. Asked why he accepted ABC's invitation to perform, Carlson responded, "I'm not defending it as the smartest choice, but I think it's the most interesting. I think if you sat back and tried to plan my career, you might not choose this. But my only criterion is the interest level. I want to lead an interesting life." He concluded, "I'm 37. I've got four kids. I have a steady job. I don't do things that I'm not good at very often. I'm psyched to get to do that."
Carlson was the first contestant eliminated, on September 13, 2006.
On January 11, 2010, Carlson and former vice president Dick Cheney aide Neil Patel launched a political news website titled The Daily Caller. Carlson served as editor-in-chief, and occasionally wrote opinion pieces with Patel. By February The Daily Caller was part of the White House rotating press pool.
In an interview with The Politico, Carlson said that The Daily Caller would not be tied to ideology but rather will be "breaking stories of importance". In a Washington Post article, Carlson added, "We're not enforcing any kind of ideological orthodoxy on anyone." Columnist Mickey Kaus quit after Carlson refused to run a column critical of Fox News's coverage of the immigration policy debate.
I liked McCain. And I would have voted for McCain for president happily, not because I agree with his politics; I never took McCain's politics seriously enough even to have strong feelings about them. I don't think McCain has very strong politics. He's interested in ideas almost as little as George W. Bush is. McCain isn't intellectual, and doesn't have a strong ideology at all. He's wound up sort of as a liberal Republican because he's mad at other Republicans, not because he's a liberal.
Carlson has stated that former U.S. president George W. Bush is not a true conservative. In an August 27, 2004, Washington Post interview, Carlson expressed his "displeasure with Bush". Carlson asked: "Why do so many antiwar liberals give [John] Kerry a pass when he adopts the Bush view on Iraq, as he has? The amount of team-playing on the left depresses me." Carlson did not vote in the 2004 election, citing his disgust with the Iraq War and his disillusionment with the once small-government Republican Party. He would go on to say:
I don't know what you consider conservative, but I'm not much of a liberal, at least as the word is currently defined. For instance, I'm utterly opposed to abortion, which I think is horrible and cruel. I think affirmative action is wrong. I'd like to slow immigration pretty dramatically. I hate all nanny state regulations, such as seat belt laws and smoking bans. I'm not for big government. I think the U.S. ought to hesitate before intervening abroad. I think these are conservative impulses. So by my criteria, Bush isn't much of a conservative.
Carlson has been accused of demonizing immigrants, both legal and undocumented. He has opposed demographic changes in the United States in the form of a declining share of whites and increasing share of hispanics, saying that this "makes societies volatile". He has said that the demographic change seen in Hazleton, Pa., which saw hispanics go from a small minority to a majority over a 15-year period is "more change than human beings are designed to digest." He argued that Democrats have been "plotting, in effect, a coup" by supporting immigration. After President Trump casted doubt on the US intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election at the July 2018 Helsinki Summit with Putin, Carlson said that "many countries" try to interfere in US affairs and that Mexico does it "more successfully" than Russia by "routinely interfering in our elections by packing our electorate."
Carlson said in an interview with The Washington Post that he thinks "that the U.S. ought to hesitate before intervening abroad." According to Justin Raimondo from Antiwar.com, Tucker comes pretty close to being an anti-interventionist. He has also been considered to have a record of being skeptical of foreign intervention.
Carlson supported the U.S. war with Iraq during its first year. After a year, however, he began criticizing the war, telling the New York Observer, "I think it's a total nightmare and disaster, and I'm ashamed that I went against my own instincts in supporting it. It's something I'll never do again. Never. I got convinced by a friend of mine who's smarter than I am, and I shouldn't have done that. No. I want things to work out, but I'm enraged by it, actually."
Carlson has said he does not consider Russia a serious threat. Carlson has called for the United States to work with Russia in the Syrian Civil War. He opposes overthrowing Bashar al-Assad. Peter Beinart of the Atlantic said that Carlson has been an "apologist for Donald Trump on the Russia scandal". Carlson described the controversy in the wake of revelation that Donald Trump Jr. was willing to accept anti-Clinton information from a Russian government official as a "new level of hysteria" and said that Trump Jr. had only been “gossiping with foreigners.”
In April 2018, Carlson questioned whether Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was responsible for a chemical attack that occurred the same month and killed dozens. Carlson suggested that a similar attack that occurred the year before (the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack), which was widely attributed to Assad's forces, was a false flag attack perpetrated to falsely implicate the Assad regime.
Carlson voted for Ron Paul in 1988 when he was running as the Libertarian Party presidential candidate. On November 26, 2007, it was reported that Carlson lobbied Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof to support Paul's candidacy. Carlson said, "Dennis Hof is a good friend of mine, so when we got to Nevada, I decided to call him up and see if he wanted to come check this guy out."
On September 2, 2008, Carlson participated in Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty Rally for the Republic in Minneapolis, as the first speaker to introduce the rally and also acted as the MC by introducing nearly every guest speaker. On February 23, 2009, Carlson was introduced as a senior fellow for the Cato Institute; he is no longer a senior fellow there.
Carlson endorsed controversial comments made by his brother, Buckley, about a spokeswoman for New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio. The spokesperson had asked for corrections to a story, and Buckley called her a "whiny little self-righteous bitch" and made sexually derogatory remarks. Tucker wrote that Buckley "meant it in the nicest way." Former speaker of the New York City Council Christine Quinn called on both Carlsons to apologize for the "offensive" and "sexist" comments.
Carlson was known for wearing bow ties. In 2005 on the season-five episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, "The Bowtie", a character refers to Larry David as "Tucker Carlson" for wearing one. On April 11, 2006, Carlson announced on his MSNBC show that he would no longer be wearing a bow-tie, adding, "I just decided I wanted to give my neck a break. A little change is good once in a while, and I feel better already." He now wears long neckties on the air, and on the February 28, 2014, edition of The Alex Jones Show, while talking about his reasons for returning to wearing a long necktie, Carlson said that "if you wear a bow tie, it's like [wearing] a middle finger around your neck; you're just inviting scorn and ridicule ... the number of people screaming the F-word at me ... it wore me down after a while so I gave in and became conventional."
According to The New Yorker, Carlson quit drinking alcohol in 2002, "having decided that neither the pleasant nights nor the unpleasant mornings were improving his life". Years earlier, he had quit smoking, replacing it with nicotine gum, a product he buys in bulk from New Zealand and "chews constantly".
In 2003, Carlson authored an autobiography, Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News, about his television news experiences; the publisher was Warner Books. One of the book's revelations was Carlson's description of how he was falsely accused of raping a woman he did not know, someone suffering from severe mental illness and displaying stalker-like behavior. Carlson wrote in the book that the incident was emotionally traumatic.
Well, if you watched this show before you may have noticed that I look different tonight. I'm not wearing a bow tie. This is odd for me. I have worn a bow tie on television every night for the past six years and for 15 years off air before that, since I was in 10th grade. I like bow ties, and I certainly spent a lot of time defending them. But from now on I'm going without: no ties at all. I didn't lose a bet. It is not a political statement. I didn't ditch the bow tie in protest or in solidarity with any oppressed group. It's not a ratings ploy but decided. I just decided I wanted to give my neck a break. A little change is good once in awhile [sic], and I feel better already. So to all three of you who watch this show for the bow tie, I'm sorry. For the rest of you who don't take a position on neckwear one way or the other we now returned to our regularly scheduled programming