Fox News host Tucker Carlson offered an apology Wednesday for mocking Joe Biden after complaints from women that the former vice president made unwelcome contact with them. But Carlson’s remarks took a sketchy turn.
Biden, a potential Democratic candidate for president, tweeted a video message earlier on Wednesday pledging to be “more mindful about respecting personal space in the future.”
“There is something sad, pathetic really, about watching a 76-year-old man apologize for not understanding selfie culture,” Carlson said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” as seen in the clip below. “You would hope your own golden years would be a little more dignified than that. But Biden’s a politician and he had no choice. They drove him to it. And so did we. And that’s the point of tonight’s apology.”
Carlson’s veiled mea culpa then veered into more awkward terrain, with him appearing to minimize the claims of Biden’s accusers.
“When the story first broke that Biden had been passing out Eskimo kisses and sniffing other people’s hair, it was irresistible and you couldn’t not laugh at it, and we heartily did,” Carlson said. “We mocked Joe Biden as a compulsive hugger, a cuddler run amok. It was too amusing.
“What we should have said every bit as loudly and what we apologize now for not saying is that hugging is not sexual assault,” he continued. “Eskimo kisses aren’t rape. That used to be obvious. It’s not obvious anymore. And so we are sorry for helping to blur the distinction between human affection and coercive immoral behavior. The last thing this country needs is more aggrieved people who think they are assaulted because a senior citizen hugs them wrong. And so we apologize for adding to that nonsense.”
Biden’s accusers have made clear that he did not assault them. Still, some experts have pointed out that the behavior was sexist and harmful.