The Untold Truth Of Tucker Carlson

Recently, Tucker Carlson was named among Time's most influential people of 2021. In fact, Time correspondent Charlotte Alter suggested that Carlson may be "the most powerful conservative in America," adding that "Tucker Carlson Tonight" is the top-rated cable news show in history, boasting 3 million nightly viewers. Carlson has attracted many critics but numerous admirers, too. Per The New Yorker, James Carville described Carlson, an old friend, as "one of the world's great contrarians," adding that one of the host's strengths as a speaker is his flair for making his views sound like "a brave rebellion against someone else's way of thinking."

Others' appraisals are less complimentary. Namely, a 2022 piece from The New York Times that, over some 20,000 words, dubs Carlson an "American nationalist." Then there's the outright name-calling. In 2004, an Observer writer mocked a 34-year-old Carlson as a "paleo-yuppie right-wing apple-polisher." Years later, a member of the public confronted Carlson in a Montana store to tell the Fox News host that he was "the worst human being" (via The Guardian).

Whatever you may think of him, Carlson's reach has made him hard to ignore. Here's his story.

He called Trump the single most repulsive person on the planet

In November 1999 (via Slate), Tucker Carlson concurred with journalist Evan Smith when he said that Donald Trump was "the single most repulsive person on the planet." In fact, Carlson added that Trump is "the sort of person I want to keep kicking once he's down." At the time, Trump was dabbling in presidential politics as a member of the Reform Party. Years later, Carlson identified much potential in Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. According to The New Yorker, Carlson wrote that Trump was "the ideal candidate to fight Washington corruption" and that he was the Republican candidate with the greatest chance of defeating Hillary Clinton. 

Of course, Carlson proved prescient in the face of widespread contrary opinion, such as Princeton's prediction that Clinton had a 99% chance of winning the 2016 election (via The Independent). However, despite his broadly sympathetic coverage of Trump, Carlson has been a critic of the 45th president and even rebuffed his phone calls. According to Yahoo, the Fox News host privately mocked Trump for calling the show in an attempt to prevent negative stories.

He was a registered Democrat

In 2017, Tucker Carlson told Business Insider that he was a registered Democrat in Washington D.C. "I'm registered with a party that I sincerely despise because I think it's really a force for bad in this country, and it's the Democratic party," he said. Clearly, his "support" for the Democrats was not in the style of Ronald Reagan, the Republican president who had once been a Hollywood Democrat. Instead, it was mischievous self-interest: "I'm registered because I live in the district, it's a one-party state, and the one election I always vote in is the mayor's race because it matters. I always vote for the more corrupt candidate over the idealist. Always. The person who will just like be happy taking payoffs from developers and leave me alone."

The Carlson family sold their Washington D.C. home in 2020 (via Dirt). Located in the affluent Kent suburb, the 7,400 square foot property sold for $3.95 million, significantly more than the $2.9 million they paid for a home on the Florida coast.

He has dyslexia

The written and spoken word are Tucker Carlson's trade, and no matter what one may think of his politics, he has proven adept at both. Indeed, former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown said (via Columbia Journalism Review) that Carlson is "a tremendously good writer, and I always thought it was a real shame that he kind of got sucked into this TV mania thing."

However, like the late provocative writer A.A. Gill, Carlson has dyslexia. In an interview with Max Raskin, Carlson, who writes up to 2,000 words a day, said, "I'm left-handed and dyslexic, so typing is just a beautiful thing. For me, it was the key to expressing myself. I keep notes on my phone of ideas that occur." While dyslexia has not been a great impediment on his self-expression, Carlson said that it does affect his ability to take physical instruction. "So, if you said, 'Take three steps to the left,' that would be hard for me to figure out where the left was," he told Raskin.

He is a keen reader

Despite his dyslexia, Tucker Carlson is a keen reader. In an interview with Max Raskin, he said he inherited a library of books from his father, whom Carlson described as "a very intense, book-a-day reader." This passion created a library so large that it had to be shipped to Carlson's barn in New England. "Thousands and thousands of books, and he had marginalia throughout all of them," Carlson said.

Carlson cites George Orwell as his favorite writer: "Obviously, George Orwell is my favorite writer and always will be. I love his style as well as his thinking." The Fox News host has referenced George Orwell on several occasions. In April 2022, Carlson compared the U.S. government's new Disinformation Governance Board with the Ministry of Truth, one of the four ministries of the dictatorial government in Orwell's novel "1984" (via The Daily Beast).

The Fox News host also values "Elements of Style," the famous style guide by William Strunk and E.B. White. The influence of Strunk, White, and Orwell has inspired an emphasis on directness in Carlson's writing. "Orwell's obsession, and it's become mine after 30 years, was choosing the Saxon word over the Latinate word," he said. "Our language is this amalgam of German and Italian. And you should always go with the German."

Carlson reportedly voted for Kanye West

According to Politico, Tucker Carlson told associates that he voted for Kanye West in the 2020 election. One source said, "He [Carlson] and Kanye get along. They both regularly find themselves in the crosshairs. They're both pro-life."

Carlson and West reportedly met. Shortly before the 2020 election, the cable host visited West at the musician's ranch, which covers thousands of acres in Cody, Wyoming (via Realtor). Carlson seemed to have endeared himself to Kanye when he said, in response to Kayne's diatribe at the White House (via New Wave Films), "An anonymous family member explained that he is experiencing a bipolar episode. Maybe he is? We don't know. But it doesn't mean what he said was wrong."

If Carlson did indeed vote for Kanye West, it would be a rare voting endorsement from the host, who claims to abstain from national elections. Carlson told Business Insider, "I never vote, so that's the truth. I didn't vote this time, I never do." While Carlson and Kanye may well be friendly, others suspect that Carlson's supposed vote reflects the internal politics at Fox News. "It's his way of saying that he's not just another Trumpette at Fox News like Sean Hannity," one source told Politico.

He was committed to bow ties for 22 years

"Tucker Carlson, the guy with the bow tie?" is a reaction that may be heard from those less familiar with the Fox News host. What many don't realize is that Carlson gave up the bow tie back in 2006, back when his image and career were on the rocks (via The New Yorker).

Carlson first donned a bow tie in 1984 as a 10th-grade student at St. George, a private boarding school in Rhode Island. The accessory became his signature garment through his teens, 20s, and early 30s, punctuating his mischievous, preppy contrarianism.
It's hard to believe that Carlson had a show on MSNBC, but he did, and the broadcaster promoted it with the tagline "The Man. The Legend. The Bow Tie." However, behind the scenes, producers mounted a campaign against the bow ties as they felt they caricatured Carlson, who conceded live on air on April 11, 2006, "I like bow ties, and I certainly spent a lot of time defending them. But, from now on, I'm going without."

However, Carlson donned the bow tie a few months later, in September 2006, during a performance on "Dancing with the Stars." Despite his enthusiams, Carlson's routine with Elena Grinenko was described as an "awful mess" by Bruno Tonioli, who added that Carlson looked like he was "sitting on the toilet ... I'm sorry, that was dreadful!"

He gave up and alcohol and nicotine

In 2002, when he was about 33, Tucker Carlson gave up booze for good (via The New Yorker). He had given up nicotine a few years prior owing to the "dark forces of health," but the drinking proved to be enjoyable a little while longer. The drinking stopped when "neither the pleasant nights nor the unpleasant mornings were improving his life."

Carlson may have gone cold turkey with alcohol, but he indulges his addictive tendencies with nicotine gum, which he buys in bulk from New Zealand. He is said to chew "constantly," according to Kelefa Sanneh's profile in The New Yorker, stopping only for meals and filming. According to Quit Smoking Hypnosis, nicotine gum is "generally safe" during a 12-week course. However, for long-term users such as Carlson, there are some possible side effects, including ​​high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, increased heart rate, headaches, nausea, dizziness, coughing, mouth ulcers, and more.

He had emergency back surgery, which gave him empathy for opioid addicts

In November 2021, Tucker Carlson underwent emergency back surgery, which required some very strong medication. In a recording obtained by Vice, the anchor said, "They gave me fentanyl this morning, that did not cure it – they gave me intravenous fentanyl ... And they gave me all kinds of other s***. I was like, 'Fine, go for it.'"

Carlson described the experience as "one of the most traumatic things that's ever happened to me in my whole life, ever." He said, ""I had this spirit of fear within me ... It was super deep. And I just haven't had those feelings since I was in a plane crash 20 years ago this month. I've never had those feelings. I'm always like, 'Yeah, I'm gonna die, I don't care.' And I mean it. But last night I was like, 'Oh s***.'"

The television host said the experience — which he described as the "most interesting thing that's ever happened to me" — demonstrated to him the terrible power of opioids and how they strip people of their "dignity" and "self-respect."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

He is adamantly opposed to the death penalty

Tucker Carlson may be a conservative, but the anchor told Salon that he was "adamantly" opposed to the death penalty. On June 22, 2000, during the George W. Bush's governorship of Texas — which saw the greatest number of executions in the state's history — Carlson wrote for CNN that the "death penalty deserves more vigorous debate," describing capital punishment as a "complicated and morally disturbing issue."

However, he would contradict that sentiment during the case of Michael Vick, a football player jailed for dog fighting. Carlson said (via The Atlantic), "Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did in a heartless and cruel way. And I think, personally, he should've been executed for that." A week later, though, Carlson said (via Bleacher Report) that he had "overspoke" and he was "not comfortable with the death penalty under any circumstances. Of course I don't think he should be executed." 

Carlson did a U-turn on his support for the Iraq War

Tucker Carlson supported the Iraq invasion in 2003. "We know today for certain that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction; they have chemical and biological weapons,"  he announced on CNN. "And the question remains what do we do about it?" He was reacting to Colin Powell's 2003 address to the United Nations Security Council, the content of which Powell would later describe (via Frontline) as a "great intelligence failure."

Carlson's support would turn to shame and disgust. He told Observer that he thought Iraq was " a total nightmare and disaster" and that he was "ashamed that I went against my own instincts in supporting it. It's something I'll never do again." Carlson added that he was convinced to support the invasion by "a friend of mine who's smarter than I am." In 2020, Carlson referred to Iraq as a "money pit where Americans go to die" and severely criticized the "casual recklessness" and "utter incompetence" of America's involvement in the country (via Fox News).

He isn't be to taken entirely seriously, Fox said

When Karen McDougal sued Tucker Carlson for defamation, Fox's lawyers argued (via NPR) that the "'general tenor' of the show should then inform a viewer that Carlson is not 'stating actual facts' about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in 'exaggeration' and 'non-literal commentary.'" According to the Associated Press, McDougal sued Carlson of defamation after he accused the Playboy model of a "classic case of extortion," referring to a $150,000 pay-off McDougal received from American Media, Inc., which he said was "working in concert" with Trump to quash her story (via CBS News).

U.S. District Court Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil ruled in Fox's favor (per CBS News), describing Carlson's "rhetorical hyperbole and opinion commentary intended to frame a political debate, and as such, are not actionable as defamation." In response, McDougal wrote, "I believe reporting something you know is a lie as 'news' or 'undisputed facts' is the very definition of malicious."

Radio host Alex Jones had a similar defense in 2017 when his lawyers claimed that the conspiracy theorist was a "performance artist" who was "playing a character" and that to judge him by this persona would be like judging Jack Nicholson by his depiction of the Joker on "Batman" (via NBC News). 

Carlson's mother left him $1 in her will

Tucker Carlson's mother was Lisa McNear Lombardi, a descendent of Henry Miller, a German immigrant who made his fortune as a rancher on the west coast (via The New York Times). She married Richard, Tucker's father, in 1967, but the couple divorced in the late 1970s, with Richard winning custody of Tucker and his brother Buckley, citing Lisa's "repeated difficulties with alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and amphetamines." Lisa left the United States for France, never seeing her children again.

Tucker's memory of his mother is broadly negative. He told comedian Adam Corolla (per the New York Times), "She was like, doing real drugs around us when we were little, and getting us to do it, and just like being a nut case." Lisa is also said to have been open in her lack of affection for her boys, which caused Tucker to feel "all kinds of rage." When she died, she left a bizarre note that read, "I leave my sons Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson and Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson one dollar each." Suspicious of forgery, the Carlson brothers sued, but a forensic specialist believed it to be genuine. "She didn't raise us," Tucker said, "she was horrible, and then she dies and causes all these problems."

He was in a plane crash

In the fall of 2001, Tucker Carlson and his father Richard were in a plane crash in the Middle East (via The Washington Post). Richard wrote in an email, "They have just reopened the Dubai airport as our plane from Peshawar — Pakistan Air [Flight 231], an Airbus with 205 people aboard, including crew — crashed on the runway at 2 a.m. this morning."

According to Gulf News, the plane crash-landed after the landing gear collapsed, grinding to a halt as it skid along the runway. Richard described the crash in detail (per The Washington Post): "Tucker and I were in the very front. The wheels seemed to collapse, and the right wing hit the runway at a couple hundred miles an hour. Flames and huge billows of smoke shot up along the windows, and an engine on the right wing fell off, then that wing itself collapsed as we spun sideways."

Despite the terror of the crash, there were no serious injuries. However, events could have been very different had the plane not settled in sand, averting a serious fire. Richard recalled in his email how once the situation was under control, a firefighter remarked, "You were lucky you didn't all die."

Fox News abruptly fired Tucker Carlson

On April 18, 2023, according to CNN, the voting machine manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems settled a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, filed after the 2020 election. Alleging that the news network's months-long, on-air perpetuation of unproven claims that Dominion helped rig the election to get rid of Republican presidential incumbent Donald Trump was detrimental, the parties agreed to a $787 million settlement. Filings associated with the trial revealed a dissonance between Fox News personalities' on-camera behavior and their private thoughts. Primetime host Tucker Carlson, for example, claimed to hate Trump with a passion and, when not on the air, called the Trump presidency a "disaster," per CNN.

Two days after the Dominion settlement, Carlson signed off the Friday edition of his daily show, "Tucker Carlson Tonight," and implored viewers to tune in again the following Monday, per NPR. In the interim, "Tucker Carlson Tonight" was canceled. "Fox News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways," a statement to the media read. "We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor." The decision took effect immediately.