Media Matter for America uncovered dozens of incidents in which Carlson, appearing weekly on the shock-jock radio program “The Bubba the Love Sponge Show” from 2006 to 2011, made incendiary statements. The commentary included Carlson referring to women as “extremely primitive,” questioning President Barack Obama’s race and saying Iraq was filled with “semiliterate primitive monkeys.”
All of that was simply made in “jest,” Carlson said Monday. He did not apologize.
“As anyone who’s ever been caught in its gears can tell you, the great American outrage machine is a remarkable thing,” Carlson said at the start of his Fox News show Monday evening, the first since Media Matters uncovered the old radio footage. “There’s really not that much you can do to respond. It’s pointless to try to explain how the words were spoken in jest, or taken out of context or in any case bear no resemblance to what you actually think or would want for the country. None of that matters. Nobody cares.”
Carlson said at the end of his opening monologue that Fox News was “behind us” and had been “since the very first day.” HuffPost has reached out to the network for comment.
“How many times have you seen it happen? Some conservative figure will say something stupid, or incomplete or too far outside the bounds of received wisdom for the moral guardians of cable news. Twitter goes bonkers. The mob demands a response,” the host said Monday. “This is a system built on deceit and enforced silence. Hypocrisy is its hallmark.”
The latest scandal has prompted a renewed effort to get advertisers to boycott “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Several companies said they had ended their spots on the program earlier this year and said they had no plans to air any ads in the future, including Outback Steakhouse and AstraZeneca. But others, including Mitsubishi, said they foresaw no such fallout.
A controversy last fall in which Carlson said immigrants made the U.S. “dirtier” prompted a far-reaching reprisal, with 20 advertisers withdrawing their involvement from the show at the time.
Shortly after Media Matters published the first batch of audio recordings — during which Carlson can also be heard calling Paris Hilton and Britney Spears “two of the biggest white whores in America” and saying a teacher sleeping with an underage male student was “doing a service to all 13-year-old girls” — he issued a brief admission that he made the remarks.
“Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago,” Carlson said. “Rather than express the usual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch.”
Indeed, Carlson’s 8 p.m. Eastern slot on Fox News is one of the highest-rated on prime-time television. So far this year, his program averages nearly 3 million viewers an episode, far outstripping any other show in the time slot across all of cable, according to The Wrap.
“The left’s main goal, in case you haven’t noticed, is controlling what you think,” Carlson declared on his program. “One of the only places left in the United States where independent thoughts are allowed is right here, the opinion hours on this network. Just a few hours in a sea of television programming. It’s not much, relatively speaking. For the left, it’s unacceptable. They demand total conformity.”