The New York Times unleashed a flurry of negative press against Tucker Carlson this weekend. The Times published five articles about Carlson on Saturday, including one hit piece that suggested that his ultra-successful Fox News talk show "may be the most racist show in the history of cable news."
In one article titled "Inside the Apocalyptic Worldview of ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight,’" the Times assigned nine staffers to watch or read transcripts of 1,150 episodes of "Tucker Carlson Tonight" between Nov. 14, 2016, when it first aired, until 2021. The analysis was carried out in an effort to "reveal how Tucker Carlson pushes extremist ideas and conspiracy theories into millions of households, five nights a week." Four additional reporters contributed to the hit piece, including investigative reporter Nicholas Confessore.
Confessore also orchestrated a three-part series titled "American Nationalist” that investigates the "fall and rise of Tucker Carlson and the transformation of American conservatism."
Confessore explained why he devoted so much time and effort to the Tucker Carlson hit piece:
Why devote thousands of words to a talk show host? Because Carlson, the highest-rated pundit in history, is also a unique figure on the modern American right — a latter-day Father Coughlin and a movement builder in the mold of Pat Buchanan. The story of Tucker Carlson is also the story of how American conservatism evolved from Reagan to Trump — the triumph of the nativist current on the right, and the shrinking boundary between mainline politics and the cranks and conspiracy theorists of QAnon.More successfully than almost anyone else, Carlson has taken a set of themes and conspiracy theories, formerly caged on the fringe of American politics, and brought them to a mainstream audience. His show may be the most racist program in the history of cable news.
Confessore – who is also a commentator for MSNBC – claims that Carlson is so powerful inside Fox News that he "answers solely to the Murdochs themselves," and regularly talks and texts Rupert Murdoch.
A former Fox News employee who worked with Carlson reportedly told the Times, "He is going to double down on the white nationalism because the minute-by-minutes show that the audience eats it up."
In an NYT article titled "How Tucker Carlson Stoked White Fear to Conquer Cable," the outlet outlined "his mother's abandonment" to explain his mental fortitude against attacks:
Mr. Carlson was a heavy drinker until his 30s, something he has attributed in part to his early childhood. But by his own account, his mother’s abandonment also provided him with a kind of pre-emptive defense against the attacks that have rained down on his Fox show. “Criticism from people who hate me doesn’t really mean anything to me,” Mr. Carlson told Megyn Kelly, the former Fox anchor, on her podcast last fall. He went on to say: “I’m not giving those people emotional control over me. I’ve been through that. I lived through that as a child.” One lesson from his youth, Mr. Carlson told one interviewer, was that “you should only care about the opinions of people who care about you.”
On Sunday, Carlson reacted to the hit pieces by simply sharing a photo on Twitter of him laughing while holding the New York Times newspaper with the story about him on the front page.
Before the articles were published, Carlson preemptively dismissed the New York Times coverage during Thursday's episode of "Tucker Carlson Tonight."
"The New York Times is preparing yet another story about how this show is racist because we support national borders," Carlson said. "This has gotta be the 10th or 27th or 217th story just like this the New York Times has run, and all of them are pretty much identical – racist, racist, racist!"
Carlson defended his position on race:
And the funny thing is, the one thing we do not have exotic opinions on is race. Our view of race is really simple. We believe Martin Luther King. We don’t think your skin color is the most important thing about you. We think all people were created by God and should therefore be judged by what they do, not by how they look. We say that a lot and we mean it. Most Americans strongly agree with that. We, in fact, would assume that most reporters at The New York Times, agree with that. Only Nazis think your race defines you. And we just don’t believe there are a ton of people in this country, even on the left, who actually believe something that evil.
Carlson described media writers who classify him as "racist" as "obedient little establishment defenders who will say anything to please their bosses." He added, "They’re suck-ups, brownnosers, lickspittles, not people you'd want to have dinner with."
Justin Wells – the senior executive producer of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and vice president of Tucker Carlson Digital Products – said in a statement: “Tucker Carlson programming embraces diversity of thought and presents various points of view in an industry where contrarian thought and the search for truth are often ignored. Stories in ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ broadcasts and ‘Tucker Carlson Originals’ documentaries undergo a rigorous editorial process. We're also proud of our ongoing original reporting at a time when most in the media amplify only one point of view.”
"Tucker Carlson Tonight" had consistently been the most-watched cable news program with typically more than 3 million viewers, but recently Fox News' "The Five" has been in the top spot.