Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Tucker Carlson onstage at IGNITION: Future of Media at Time Warner Center on November 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

No Apology: Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro Use Outrage Over Comments to Promote Their Shows

"This is not one random off-hand comment that Carlson said decades ago.... we're highlighting patterns."

Eoin Higgins

Two controversies over statements past and present engulfed Fox News personalities Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro over the weekend, but neither showed any regret or offered an apology. 

Instead of contrition, both Pirro and Carlson—under fire for remarks about Muslims and women respectively—responded by saying people that might be upset should simply tune into upcoming episodes.

In her Saturday evening show, "Justice with Judge Jeanine," Pirro mused over whether Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress and the first to wear a hijab, might be more loyal to Islam than the U.S. After all, Pirro said, Omar wears a headscarf for religious reason.

"Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to sharia law which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?" Pirro asked the audience during her opening monologue.

Outrage quickly followed the comment, which drew on xenophobic tropes and Islamophobia. 

 The New York Times reporter Nick Confessore referred to the comment as a "slur." 

"Offensive and unacceptable," tweeted educator and activist Dr. Debbie Almontaser.

Despite the reaction and the racist content of her comments, however, Pirro made no public apology. That was left to Fox's public relations department, which on Sunday night distanced the company from the remarks and criticized the judge. 

In her own statement on Sunday night, Pirro said the intention of her comments "was to ask a question and start a debate." She then invited Congresswoman Omar to come on her show "to discuss all of the important issues facing America today."

Of course, by then the network was dealing with another PR nightmare. Reporting from Media Matters on Sunday evening unearthed a trove of comments from Carlson, host of Fox ratings hit "Tucker Carlson Tonight," from appearances on a shock jock radio show between 2006 and 2011. 

Carlson was a regular call-in guest to "The Bubba the Love Sponge Show," where he joined the eponymous host and other guests in making misogynistic remarks and commented at length about rape and underage girls. 

"I love women, but they're extremely primitive, they're basic, they're not that hard to understand," said Carlson in an October 2007 appearance.

As with Pirro's comments, reaction to Carlson's remarks on the radio show from the left ran the gamut from disgust to outrage. 

 "His stance hasn't changed at all," said Twitter user @sansdn.

Actor Ken Olin listed Carlson's advertisers and called for a boycott.

"Their continued support of his show," wrote Olin, "is an implicit endorsement of his contempt for women, minorities, and diverse races."

Despite the reactions, Carlson not only refused to apologize but, like Pirro, flipped the controversy into a commercial for his show. 

Describing his multiple comments in the Media Matters article as "something naughty," Carlson said in a statement that he wouldn't apologize and that those interested in his further take on the controversy should tune into "Tucker Carlson Tonight."

"If you want to know what I think, you can watch," said Carlson.

"Tucker Carlson is not sorry he defended Warren Jeffs even though Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence for raping a 12-year-old girl," said journalist Judd Legum.

It remains to be seen if Carlson can weather this storm of controversy. One thing, however, appears clear: there's more coming from Carlson's years calling into "The Bubba the Love Sponge Show." 

In comment provided to SplinterMedia Matters communications director Laura Kieter implied that Sunday's news was just the beginning. 

"This is not one random off-hand comment that Carlson said decades ago," said Kieter. "Instead, we're highlighting patterns. This first one focuses on misogyny mostly and the pattern in the clips echoes the misogyny on his current show."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Utterly Obscene': Just 8 Pfizer and Moderna Investors Became $10 Billion Richer After Omicron Emerged

"Pharma execs and shareholders are making a killing from a crisis they helped to create," said one justice campaigner.

Jon Queally ·

Ilhan Omar Calls Kevin McCarthy 'A Liar and a Coward' for Refusing to Condemn Boebert's Islamophobia

"This is who they are," said the Minnesota Democrat. "And we have to be able to stand up to them. And we have to push them to reckon with the fact their party right now is normalizing anti-Muslim bigotry."

Jon Queally ·

'Congress Must Act': Bernie Sanders Demands End of Filibuster to Codify Abortion Rights

"We must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country. And if there aren't 60 votes to do it, and there are not, we must reform the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes."

Jon Queally ·

Human Rights Defenders Warn Biden Border Policy 'Quickly Transforming Into Trump 2.0'

Like his predecessor, President Joe Biden now being accused of "using racist, xenophobic tropes about immigrants to weaponize Covid-19 against migrants and asylum-seekers."

Jon Queally ·

'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo