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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."

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)

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."

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