Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson (born May 16, 1969) is an American political news correspondent and conservative pundit for the Fox News Channel. He is co-founder and editor in chief of The Daily Caller and formerly co-hosted CNN's Crossfire and MSNBC's Tucker.
Carlson was born in San Francisco, California. He grew up in Carlsbad, a suburb north of San Diego. He is the elder son of Lisa McNear (Lombardi) and 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 adoptive mother is Patricia Caroline Swanson (born 1945), former wife of Howard Feldman and an heiress to the Swanson food-conglomerate fortune. He has a brother, Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson. A great-uncle was Sen. J. William Fulbright.
He is married to Susan Carlson, née Andrews, a St. George's classmate whose father was the school's headmaster during their time there. They have four children together: Lillie, Hopie, Dorothy, and Buckley.
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, remaining at the network until February 2005. Carlson got his television start in 2000 as co-host of The Spin Room opposite Bill Press.
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 ... He [Stewart] needed to do this."
In January 2005, CNN 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, premiered June 13, 2005, on MSNBC (originally titled The Situation With Tucker Carlson). The show lasted fewer than three seasons; the network announced its cancellation due to low ratings on March 10, 2008. 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."
Carlson had 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.
Fox News Channel
In May 2009 it was announced that Carlson was hired as a Fox News contributor. Since then, he has been 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, been 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. Beginning in April, Carlson, a Fox News contributor and frequent guest host on the program, officially joined co-hosts Alisyn Camerota and Clayton Morris on Saturday and Sunday mornings. He replaced Dave Briggs, who left the news channel to join the NBC Sports Network on New Years 2013.
The Daily Caller
On January 11, 2010, Carlson and former vice president Dick Cheney aide Neil Patel launched a political news website titled The Daily Caller. Carlson serves as editor in chief, and occasionally writes opinion pieces with Patel.
The Daily Caller is in the White House rotating press pool. Its reporters have appeared on MSNBC, Fox News Channel, CNBC, CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS, and radio stations across the country. Reporters and columnists for The Daily Caller include Matt Lewis, Alex Pappas, Jamie Weinstein, Will Rahn, Caroline May, Nicholas Ballasy, Vince Coglianese, Matt Labash, Jeff Poor, Alexis Levinson and Jim Treacher.
In an interview with The Politico, Carlson said that The Daily Caller will 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.
Carlson's definitions of conservative views often conflict with the mainstream opinion, being called "insufficiently conservative". This first began following Carlson's public and private endorsement of 2000 presidential candidate John McCain. Speaking to Salon.com, Carlson responded:
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 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.
1999 Bush interview
Asked by Salon about the response to his article on Bush, Carlson said:
It was very, very hostile. The reaction was: You betrayed us. Well, I was never there as a partisan to begin with. Then I heard that [on the campaign bus, Bush communications director] Karen Hughes accused me of lying. And so I called Karen and asked her why she was saying this, and she had this almost Orwellian rap that she laid on me about how things she'd heard—that I watched her hear—she in fact had never heard, and she'd never heard Bush use profanity ever. It was insane. I've obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness. They get carried away, consultants do, in the heat of the campaign; they're really invested in this. A lot of times they really like the candidate. That's all conventional. But on some level, you think, there's a hint of recognition that there is reality—even if they don't recognize reality exists—there is an objective truth. With Karen you didn't get that sense at all. A lot of people like her. A lot of people I know like her. I'm not one of them.
Supporting, then opposing, the U.S. war in Iraq
Carlson initially supported the U.S. war with Iraq during its first year. After a year, 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.
On July 24, 2007, Carlson said on his show, "I'm just for marriage generally. I'm for people making a lifelong commitment. Do you know what I mean? I'm not against gay marriage, actually, and I'm the most right-wing person I know." Carlson later went on to say, "I think, marriage has been a great thing for me, and I think it's a really civilizing force, and I think it would be a civilizing force for gay people too."
On November 26, 2007, it was reported that Carlson lobbied Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof to support Paul's candidacy. Explained Carlson, "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.
Carlson was known for wearing bow ties. Sensing that this was part of his costume as a news entertainer, Jon Stewart pointedly raised the issue during the above-described 2004 Crossfire interview. "How old are you?" Stewart asked Carlson. "Thirty-five", he answered. "And you wear a bow tie", Stewart shot back. "So this is theater", he continued, while a momentarily flustered Carlson exclaimed "I know, I know, you're right." "The thing is", asserted Stewart, "you're doing theater when you should be doing debate."
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. In 2007 he appeared as himself in the episode "Manhattan Project" (Season 9, Episode 10) on the sitcom The King of Queens.
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."
His brother, Buckley, accidentally sent an email meant for Tucker to a spokeswoman for New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio, who had asked for corrections to a story, calling her a "whiny little self-righteous bitch" as well as making sexually derogatory remarks. Tucker did not distance himself from the misogynistic comments, but wrote that Buckley "meant it in the nicest way."
Dancing with the Stars
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."
The gambling site BetBet placed Carlson's odds of winning the competition at 15:1. Jerry Springer was ranked as having the longest odds of winning, at 30:1.
Carlson, who was paired with professional partner Elena Grinenko, was voted off on September 13. His performance on the previous night was the lowest ranked among the judges; the low score resulted from his spending much of the performance sitting in a chair.
At the close of the show, Carlson said that teaching him to dance was "like Einstein teaching addition to a slow child".
In 2003 Carlson authored an autobiography, Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News, about his television news experiences that he published through 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 with stalker-like behavior. Carlson wrote in the book that the incident was emotionally traumatic.
In the book, he also lists a variety of anecdotes and off-the-cuff observations about himself and others, including self-deprecation as well as jokes targeting both right-wing and left-wing political figures. Carlson also quipped about President George W. Bush that "he dresses like someone who just got back from an afternoon of shoplifting at Sears."