WHO IS: Tucker Carlson? Narrated by Samm Levine

Here's how one lie helped Tucker Carlson become a cable news sensation, and eventually a hero to white nationalists everywhere.

Tucker Carlson is a Fox News anchor, anti-immigration propagandist, hero to white supremacists, and the first eliminated contestant from season three of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’

Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson was born in San Francisco in 1969 to Dick, an established television anchor turned ambassador to the Seychelles, and to Lisa, Tucker’s mother who left for France when hewas just six. He never saw her again. And the rest of the Carlsons’ stay in San Francisco didn’t last much longer either—they packed up and left too, but with each other.

After Lisa left the family, Carlson’s father married Patricia Swanson, heiress of the frozen TV dinner empire: Swansons. The wealthy couple raised Tucker and his brother Buckley in La Jolla, California before sending Tucker out to the east coast.

A Passion for Arguing

When Tucker was 14, he was sent to the prestigious, ridiculously expensive Rhode Island boarding school, St. George’s. It was here that a young, teenage Tucker started sporting a bow tie and arguing for the Republican ideology. The school held after-dinner debates, and Tucker couldn’t get enough of them. His study habits quickly took a backseat to organized teenage arguments. When senior year rolled around, he had failed to make a name for himself outside of the debating circle.

Universities weren’t sold on him, but lucky for Tucker, he was dating the headmaster’s daughter who eventually convinced the expensive Trinity School in Connecticut to take on the young, bow-tied Republican.

Carlson’s love for debate continued at the school his soon-to-be wife’s dad got him into. He also had a newfound love: drinking. He reportedly spent most of his days at Trinity wasted—and it’s unclear whether or not he was present when the following took place: The CIA once came to campus to recruit some graduating seniors. Liberal students held protests, which ended in a school debate. After those who were anti-CIA made their points, Tucker was asked to speak for the pro-CIA side. And so eloquently, he did, “Honestly, what I really think is you’re all a bunch of greasy chicken-fuckers.” That’s all he said before walking out.

Carlson graduated with a bachelors in History from Trinity in 1992.

Upon graduation, he tried to get a job working for the C.I.A., but unfortunately, the federal agency didn’t want him— even if he did call the agency’s critics “greasy chicken-fuckers.” His dad said he should try his hand at journalism because “they’ll take anybody.”

Off to Journalism He Goes

He was right. Carlson landed at Policy Review as a fact checker. “I ended up working for this magazine because the standards are so low,” Carlson told the Columbia Journalism Review.

From there, he went on to work for The Arkansas Democrat Gazette. He wrote a number of articles and even a book called ‘People vs. Crime: How Citizens Can Restore Order To America’s Streets.’ But after finding out he didn’t know how to restore order to America’s streets, he reimbursed the publisher’s advance and cancelled the book deal. If only there was a book to teach him.

In 1995, he went on to write for the Weekly Standard. While Carlson did pen articles on the political climate of the late nineties, he also spent a lot of his time writing articles about squirrels pissing on his roof, how he did all the drugs from Fear and Loathing, and another surely no one clicked on just titled: “Tater Tots.”

A Star is Born… Thanks to O.J. Simpson

Through the late nineties, Carlson started popping up on various news broadcasts. His transition to television was handed to him because he was in the right place at the right time. In his 2003 book Carlson writes, “I was heading back to my desk with a take-out hot dog one afternoon when I ran into the receptionist. She asked me what I knew about the O.J. trial. My instinct was to answer honestly (“just about nothing”), but for some reason I caught myself. I asked her why she wanted to know. Well, she explained, Dan Rather’s booker just called looking for an O.J. expert to go on 48 Hours tonight. Everyone else is still at lunch. Can you do it?”

He must’ve killed it because after putting his hot dog down to become an “OJ expert,”Carlson was a regular on television. He once joked that if OJ Simpson didn’t murder his wife, he wouldn’t have a career in TV. But because OJ, according to Carlson, did murder his wife, Tucker landed a job at CNN. After co-hosting The Spin Room, a show canceled within months, Carlson co-hosted Crossfire, a debate show. A few short years after taking the job, comedian Jon Stewart came on the program and called Carlson a dick and accused him of hurting America.

“It’s not so much that it’s bad, as it’s hurting America. So I wanted to come here today- here’s just want I wanted to tell you guys: Stop,” said Stewart.

The show was canceled shortly after Jon Stewart’s intervention. Jon Klein, CNN’s President at the time said, “I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart’s premise.”

But MSNBC didn’t. Carlson went on to host a show of his very own creatively called “Tucker,” where he revealed what is on his mind 24/7, which featured statements like:

“But you’re aware that the average man has a porno movie on a continuous loop going on in his brain at all times.”

The network canceled the show due to low ratings in 2008.

Fox News Comes Knockin’

In May 2009, Fox News just couldn’t resist Carlson’s past record of consistently getting canceled and decided to give him a shot. First, as a contributor, then as a substitute guest host for Sean Hannity’s show. Unlike everywhere else Carlson had been up to this point — including Dancing with the Stars — Fox News saw something in him.

On the side, he continued to build up his resume. In 2010, he launched the site, The Daily Caller. The website is home to headlines like “Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Cleavage: A History” and “13 Syrian Refugees We’d Take Immediately,” which is just a list of photos featuring “Syria-sly hot” women.

In 2015, Daily Caller staffers got into an argument with the spokeswoman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio after they ran a piece on him. The mayor’s spokeswoman, Amy Spitalnick had requested a correction to the piece. Carlson, angry with her request, fired back:

“Outside of New York City, adults generally write polite, cheerful emails to one another, even when asking for corrections. Something to keep in mind the next time you communicate with people who don’t live on your island,” said Carlson.

For some reason, Carlson’s brother Buckley got in on the fun. Buckley responded, “Whiny little self-righteous bitch. ‘Appalling?’ And with such an ironic name, too...Spitalnick? Ironic because you know she just has extreme dick-fright; no chance has this girl ever had a pearl necklace. Spoogeneck? I don’t think so. More like Labia-Face.” After the email chain saw the light of day, Tucker responded to BuzzFeed about the incident, “I just talked to my brother about his response, and he assures me he meant it in the nicest way.”

So of course, Fox News decided to give him his own show. Days after the 2016 election, Carlson landed the biggest gig of his life, hosting “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” The premiere was the most-watched telecast of the year in that time slot. His show advertises itself as “the sworn enemy of lying, pomposity, smugness and group think.” After Bill O’Reilly was forced out of the network for settling several sexual harassment allegations out of court, Carlson took his time slot.

Carlson vs. Diversity

He may have played it safe on Dancing with the Stars, going with a classic “cha-cha” routine, but when he’s behind the desk with a camera in his face, he goes much harder, saying things that have white supremacists cheering him on.

“How precisely is diversity our strength? Since you’ve made this our new national model, please be specific as you explain it,” said Carolson. “Can you think, for example, if other institutions, such as marriage or military units, in which the less people have in common, the more cohesive they are. Do you get along better with your neighbors or coworkers if you can’t understand each other? Or share no common values? Please be honest as you answer this question.”

Among the 91% white audience tuning in to Fox, a few stand out—as a Vox explainer first noted. First, former Grand Wizard of the KKK, David Duke. He’s tweeted his support for Carlson numerous times. Duke’s called Carlson a “hero” for exposing white ethnic cleansing, and he even has a nickname for his favorite host: Tucker ‘Knows’ Carlson.

Joining the former KKK Grand Wizard at the Tucker Carlson fan club table, is white supremacist Richard Spencer. He’s described Carlson as a “much better figure” than Bill O’Reilly because Carlson has “open-mindedness.” The neo-nazi, white supremacist website, The Daily Stormer, also got in on the fun. They noted, “Tucker Carlson is basically ‘Daily Stormer: The Show.’”And “Other than the language used, he is covering all of our talking points.” The article then goes on to throw Jewish slurs at Michael Cohen.

The Trump Alliance

With viewership like that, it’s not surprising that the president also tunes in. A source close to Trump said, “They aren’t personally close. He’s not getting strategic advice from him directly the way he might from a Hannity. But they do chat on occasion, mostly Trump complimenting a segment here and there. He definitely likes him, and…it’s not unusual for him to be exposed to issues through Tucker’s show and others.”

One particular issue that made its way from Carlson’s show to the White House was a segment where Carlson claimed a “large scale killing” of white farmers is currently taking place in South Africa. The segment was filled with chyrons like “South Africa farm seizures begin,” and “South African government is now seizing land from white farmers.” Trump definitely watched the segment because he tweeted about it:

“I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.” @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews”

It’s obvious Trump seemingly doesn’t do any research of his own after staring at the TV because if he did, he’d know this actually isn’t happening. There have been no land seizures to date; no farms have been taken from white farmers without compensation; South African white farmers are not being murdered by Black people, and the law which would allow these seizures, hasn’t even been passed. What used to be an online white supremacist theory now has the president’s ear, confirming the views of people like Richard Spencer and David Duke that non-white people are the enemy. Spreading misinformation such as this can- well, Carlson said it best:

“If you create a news organization whose primary objective is not to deliver accurate news, you will fail. You will fail. The New York Times is a liberal paper, it’s also a paper that cares about whether they spell people’s names right. It cares about accuracy. Conservatives need to build institutions that mirror those institutions.”

Taking everything Carlson says as truth can have serious consequences when the person tuning in is the leader of the free world. If only Trump and Carlson were on bad terms again.

In 2016 Carlson wrote, “About 15 years ago, I said something nasty on CNN about Donald Trump’s hair, I can’t now remember the context, assuming there was one. In any case, Trump saw it and left a message the next day saying, “It’s true you have better hair than I do, but I get more pussy than you do.’” The future president hung up.

Carlson has since argued this assumption.

Interviewer: “How many women have you had sex with in your life?”
Carlson: “A lot. Hundreds… It was a short window, but I packed it full… Carpet bombed.”

Very cool.

Video Credits:

Samm Levine

PJ Evans

PJ Evans

Jake Trill

Art Director
Hector Silva

Senior Visual Designer
Chris Carfolite

Motion Graphics
Aaron Fernandez

Executive Producers
Matt McDonough

Script Editor
Christina Huffington