Just How Evil Is Tucker Carlson?

The Devil shows a man some smutThe mainstream media were briefly abuzz last week over left-liberal Media Matters’ unearthing of some old Tucker Carlson audio. Media Matters’ Madeline Peltz begins her related article (topically organized transcript collection) with a summary of Carlson’s bad behavior, part of which reads as follows:

Between 2006 and 2011, Tucker Carlson spent approximately an hour a week calling in to Bubba the Love Sponge [BTLS], a popular shock jock radio program where he spoke with the hosts about a variety of cultural and political topics in sometimes-vulgar terms. During those conversations, Carlson diminished the actions of Warren Jeffs, then on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list for his involvement in arranging illegal marriages between adults and underage girls, talked about sex and young girls, and defended statutory rape.[1]

No doubt this gloss reflects the biases of Media Matters and Peltz, but it did surprise me to learn that someone of Carlson’s evident intelligence once wasted his time contributing commentary to shock-jock radio. I’ve always thought of such radio, most typically associated with the infamous Howard Stern, as the lowest form of low-brow entertainment and something likely to lower one’s I.Q. several points per half-hour of listening. It did not surprise me, however, to hear that Carlson used vulgarity or thought things humorous that the more strictly moral would find offensive or just uncomfortable. Having watched Tucker Carlson Tonight fairly regularly for a number of months, I already knew that Carlson’s attitudes diverged in important ways from my own. For example, when he wanted to describe how irrational, how intractable in the face of contrary evidence, some liberals were, he would typically identify their views as “theology” or “religion.” Though he was not entirely consistent, the overall sense I got from watching him was that he was fundamentally secular in his outlook and no friend to faith, though his support for religious freedom was never in doubt. Since he’d said in one episode that he didn’t want to be a “bluenose” about vulgarity in the newsroom, because he’d long worked in newsrooms and “enjoyed” participating in the vulgarity himself (this was during some newsroom-related #metoo revelations a while back), this 2006–2011 behavior, reminiscent of some of the behavior that made me uncomfortable with Trump,[2] doesn’t shock me. Something that does shock me is that Reddit user “agnostic atheist” portrays Carlson as someone believed to be a “good Christian.”[3] In the episodes of Tucker Carlson Tonight that I’ve watched, I’ve never gotten the impression that Carlson professes the Christian faith. Quite the contrary. In our day, of course, this is true of how many professing Christians’ behave in public—you’d never guess they were Christian, which probably means they’re not—so I suppose it’s possible that Carlson is a professor of the faith. I’ve not heard that profession, however, and at present I would find it difficult to take seriously.

Now, I am not so benighted as to believe that the leftist organization that dug up the audio, a group with considerably more twisted values than either 1990s–early-2000s Trump or 2006–2011 Carlson, actually cares about the morality of Carlson’s past on-air behavior. I also have to admit that the CNN and MSNBC coverage of Media Matters’ dumpster-salvage audio releases struck me as so radically biased that I felt I had to click YouTube’s “dislike” button for every clip I reviewed. Even so, I have decided I’d rather watch Trish Regan Primetime (Fox Business’s Tucker-time broadcast) than Tucker Carlson Tonight, not so much because of his past and present attitudes (were I unwilling to listen to people I disagree with I couldn’t listen to anyone) as because Trish Regan’s show covers more hard news. Tucker Carlson Tonight tends to contain mostly attempted conversations that go nowhere because guests ignore the questions and just recite talking points, causing Carlson to spend most of his time laughing at them. This is a little like radio call-in shows, come to think of it. And, like such shows, it gets old pretty fast.

Still, the specific remarks released by Media Matters, and their interpretation of those remarks (through slanted headings and the biased intro), merit analysis. Not everything that Media Matters identifies as perverse or wrong deserves to be called so. Media Matters has the twisted and arbitrary values dominant on the secular left, values with no grounding in Scripture and very often contrary to it. Had attention been called to these radio spots back when they happened, resulting discussion might have benefited Carlson, his fans, and his detractors. A decade later, the potential benefit seems much reduced. Still, discussion of the principles of proper conduct is never entirely without value, and we bluenoses (as Carlson calls us) certainly enjoy it.

Before proceeding with a close analysis of the Media Matters material, some background is in order. Media Matters’ introduction to the material, quoted above, makes reference to Warren Jeffs. Who is this guy? In 2007, Jeffs, a leader in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), was convicted as an accomplice to rape for performing a marriage between 14-year-old Elissa Wall, apparently over her objections, and her 19-year-old cousin.[4] Later, in 2011, he was convicted of sexually assaulting two girls he had married (belief in the moral correctness of polygamy was one distinguishing doctrine of the FLDS), 12 and 15 years old. While he was apparently only convicted of these two assaults, which seem to have been cases of age-of-consent violation or statutory rape rather than something more overtly violent, prosecutors presented much more damning information about Jeffs’s conduct while a leader of the FLDS (a 20-year period), including evidence that he had taken a total of 78 wives, 12 who were 16 years old and 12 who were “15 or younger.” At the time of his conviction, Jeffs was 55,[5] so fairly extreme age differentials were involved.[6] Whatever else one may say of Jeffs, it seems clear he and his FLDS did not take the Bible seriously, since, even before God implicitly forbade polygamy when condemning divorce as Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:3–11), he warned against multiplying wives to oneself (Deuteronomy 17:17).

Background out of the way, on to the analysis. The first bit of audio Peltz presents, said to be from 27 August 2009, she describes as “minimizing and defending statutory rape.” The key section of her transcript reads as follows:

CARLSON: Look, just to make it absolutely clear. I am not defending underage marriage at all. I just don’t think it’s the same thing exactly as pulling a child from a bus stop and sexually assaulting that child.

CO-HOST: Yeah, it’s—you know what it is? It’s much more planned out and plotted.

[BUBBA][7]: Yeah, it should be almost—you almost should put a premeditation—

CARLSON: Wait, wait! Hold on a second. The rapist, in this case, has made a lifelong commitment to live [with] and take care of the person, so it is a little different. I mean, let’s [be] honest about it.

CO-HOST: That’s twisted.

Does Carlson here either minimize or defend statutory rape? I realize that the #metoo Left doesn’t like making fine logical distinctions where anything called “rape” is concerned, but both Peltz and Bubba’s co-host are incorrect here. Carlson does not assert, which would be twisted, that Jeffs’s “lifelong commitment to live [with] and take care of” his young brides makes the marriages okay. All he says is that this is one thing that makes these marriages not “the same thing exactly as pulling a child from a bus stop and sexually assaulting that child.” Is it Media Matter’s position that simply recognizing that, though both are to be condemned (Carlson notes that he is “not defending underage marriage at all”), forcible abduction and rape differ from voluntary marriage and sex made illegal by age-of-consent statutes? There is nothing perverse or twisted about observing that two evils are in fact different evils. I think that both the Democrat and the Republican parties are evils, but I would never deny that they are in fact two different evils. (In this analogy, just to be clear, the Democrat Party is the forcible-abduction-and-rape evil and the Republican Party is the statutory-rape evil. Though both are evil, they definitely differ, and I can’t help thinking that one evil is a bit more evil than the other.)

Concerning age-of-consent laws and those who violate them, as I’ve pointed out in one or more prior posts, the legal age of consent is only grounded in physical reality in a secondary sense. Those setting the legal age of consent try to guess how many years after puberty mental and emotional maturity reach a level where individuals should be free to choose whether and when to utilize their adult physical capacities. For Christians who take Scripture seriously, this means at what age individuals should be free to marry; for unbelievers and false professors of the Christian faith, this means at what age individuals should be free to fornicate. Given the prolonged mental and emotional immaturity prevalent in our day, it is more likely time to raise rather than lower the legal age of consent, at least if one thinks adding safety-margin years to physical (sexual) maturity is appropriate. Barring strong arguments to the contrary, I will continue to believe that the safety-margin approach is prudent. Still, I don’t know if Scripture supports it and am not certain that people who question it should be considered irredeemably evil. While the difference between a child who has not yet entered puberty and a young adult who is in or has passed through puberty is quite evident to all observers, the difference between a sexually mature young adult and a “mentally and emotionally ready to consent” adult is far less clear. The prudent course is always to err on the side of caution, however. So, using as a guide the clear immaturity of the 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as shown by her childish belief in magic as a sound basis for government policy, I suggest setting the age at 30. (Ditto for voting age and drinking.)

The next bit of audio Peltz renders to transcript, said to date from 25 October 2009, has Bubba urging Carlson to have his daughter live at home while attending college because, if she goes to live in a dormitory, she may get involved in sexual experimentation and turn lesbian. To a vulgar and pornographic scenario set out by Bubba, to which the co-host’s response of “Wow. You’re a sicko” is entirely appropriate, Carlson responds, “If it weren’t my daughter I would love that scenario.” So, yes, as of 2009, Carlson was indeed a degenerate and pervert by Bible-believing Christian standards. Good catch, Media Matters. Of course, this same sort of perversion characterized both Dr. House and his closest male friend (who seems intended as an “every man” character) on the extremely popular House television series (Fox Network, 2004–2012), and my observations of popular culture suggest that Christian morals are the minority viewpoint on lesbianism in contemporary America.

Actually, that Media Matters and Peltz condemn this makes no sense. They are strong advocates of the normalization of homosexuality, both male and female, not to mention transgenderism. When posting a clip of Carlson’s 12 February 2019 discussion with a lesbian who objects to transgender ideology, wherein Carlson’s acceptance of lesbianism as a lifestyle choice seems evident (as his permissive attitude toward homosexuality often does), Media Matters assigns the heading “Anti-trans lesbian joins Tucker Carlson as trans-exclusionary radical feminists increasingly align with the right.”[8] I suppose you can’t expect fairness from a Left that was already calling Trump “homophobic” and “transphobic” back when he was saying that transgender people should be free to “use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.” A portion of the very short transcript of this discussion reads as follows:

JULIA BECK (TRANS-EXCLUSIONARY RADICAL FEMINIST): When we get down to it, women and girls all share a biological reality. We are all female. But if any man, if any male person can call himself a woman or legally identify as female, then predatory men will do so in order to gain access to women’s single-sex spaces, and this puts every woman and girl at risk.

Carlson, having always struck me as seeing nothing wrong with homosexual activity, never asked Beck how it is that she considers lesbianism compatible with the “biological reality” that women are not designed to “become one flesh,” and so procreate, with other women, but only with men (just as the “biological reality” of men’s physical design only suits them to become one flesh and procreate with women). Since both Carlson and Beck seem willing to ignore this issue, I’m not sure they have grounds for appealing to “biological reality” in defense of their positions: both of them have already rejected biological reality by failing to oppose homosexuality. Media Matters’ morality shows itself very twisted here, but I have to grant that it is in fact more self-consistent that Carlson and Beck’s morality.

As best I can determine, the left-liberal belief is that no behavior may be thought wrong or undesirable if the inclination (“orientation”) toward it can plausibly be identified as innate. Back when I was taking upper-division psychology courses (before I realized that 90+% of the “science” of psychology is bunk), an argument was being presented that homosexual inclination was due, in at least some cases, to parts of the brain being exposed or not exposed to certain hormones at essential points during development; this hypothesis was thought confirmed by the behavior of rats whose pre-birth hormone exposure had been manipulated in specific ways. No doubt the thinking has advanced since then, the advent of the internal combustion engine and telephone, and after them the Internet, having made scientific collaboration so much easier, but from the Bible-believing Christian perspective this makes no difference. While some Christians feel obligated to argue that homosexual inclination is not innate but learned, and that it can be unlearned, the ultimate findings of this nature-nurture debate make no difference to the moral question. So long as humans remain free to act or not act upon their inclinations, what a person’s inclinations happen to be has no bearing on the moral status of his behaviors. Wanting very badly to kill people, even if that desire is something one was born with and cannot get rid of, does not make murder morally right. Neither would the innateness of sexual inclinations (“orientations”) make every such inclination morally right. If you wish to argue that humans are not free to act or not act upon their inclinations, to claim that they are mere machines of instinct who cannot but act on their inclinations, then all moral judgment is pointless, including the left-liberal moral judgment condemning those of us born with the inclination to believe the Bible and, based upon it, condemn homosexual activity as an abomination and transgender ideology as nonsense. We all just do what we can’t help but do, so everyone, including law enforcement, just needs to butt out—though, of course, they can’t, since they are innately predetermined to butt in just as they are doing.

In any case, let us resume the analysis of Peltz’s transcripts. She identifies the next one as dating to 05 September 2006, which causes me to wonder why she is placing remarks Carlson made three years earlier, when less would have been known about the nature and extent of Jeffs’s misbehavior than was known when Carlson made the remarks discussed above. It is bad enough that Peltz wants readers to condemn 2019 Tucker Carlson for the sins of 2009 Tucker Carlson; she could at least give us a fair picture of 2009 Tucker Carlson by showing his moral development in proper chronological order. In this transcript, Carlson says that “Warren Jeffs didn’t marry underaged girls,” which shows the reduced state of knowledge at this earlier point. Since, per the background information above, Jeffs was not convicted for performing a marriage between 14- and 19-year old cousins until 2007, this 2006 discussion’s suggestion that Jeffs is already “doing life” doesn’t seem to fit the temporal context, which should be at a time when Jeffs had been accused of a crime he had the right to be considered innocent of until proven guilty. Perhaps either Peltz’s 2006 transcript dating or the Deseret News’s 2007 conviction dating is incorrect, but I will assume that the “doing life” reference simply has in view the penalty Jeffs was then facing if he ended up being convicted. (This would mean he was “in prison,” or a Utah jail, because denied or incapable of paying bail.) Anyway, here are some excerpts from the transcript:

CO-HOST: Yeah, that’s what Warren Jeffs’[s] in prison for. He’s not in prison for polygamy, he’s in prison for child rape.

TUCKER CARLSON: Well, actually, he’s not in prison for that….Warren Jeffs didn’t marry underaged girls, actually.

CO-HOST: No, he’s in prison for facilitation of child rape.

CARLSON: Whatever…that means.

CO-HOST: That means that—

CARLSON: He’s in prison because he’s weird and unpopular and he has a different lifestyle that other people find creepy.

CO-HOST: No, he is an accessory to the rape of children….

CARLSON: What do you mean an accessory? He’s like got some weird religious cult where he thinks it’s OK to, you know, marry underaged girls, but he didn’t do it. Why wouldn’t the guy who actually did it, who had sex with an underaged girl, he should be the one who’s doing life.

CO-HOST: If I go buy a gun and hand it to you knowing that you’re gonna murder somebody, I’m just as guilty as you in the eyes of the law.


CARLSON: Yeah, maybe in the eyes of the law you are, but morally you’re not as guilty. You didn’t do it.

[BUBBA]: Well, Tucker, last time I checked, you don’t make the laws….

CARLSON: ….I should make the laws around here, and Michael Vick [crime: dog fighting] would have been executed, and Warren Jeffs would be out on the street.

Peltz uses this last quotation as the basis for her heading introducing the transcript, which will look very bad to readers who don’t notice that Carlson made this statement three years earlier than those preceding them. Even in the limited context provided by Media Matters, Carlson’s remarks comparing Michael Vick and Warren Jeffs don’t seem intended to be taken seriously. Carlson’s moral distinction between facilitating and perpetrated an act seems technically correct, though the question of how much less guilty Jeffs might be than the groom is not addressed. Also not addressed is whether the fact that the groom was only 5 years older than his underage bride, whereas Jeffs was considerably older than both of them, should be taken into account when assigning guilt. Since this was also a matter of religious beliefs, the constitutional right to freely exercise one’s religion, such as the religion Jeffs and this bride and groom all seem to have shared at the time, should have been discussed. Of course, since the bride’s testimony in the trial where Jeffs was convicted in November of 2007 (assuming correctness of the Deseret News dating) would be that she had not wanted to participate in this marriage, the religious-liberty question would no longer be relevant, but Peltz dates this discussion to 2006, which would place it before that testimony.

Peltz places her next transcript, which she dates 04 April 2006, under the heading “Carlson: A teacher who molested a 13-year-old took pressure off the victim’s female classmates because they wouldn’t have to sleep with him.” In this discussion, Carlson, Bubba, and the co-host discuss sexual activity between a 28-year-old female teacher and a 13-year-old boy. All participants seem to adopt the secular folk attitude that males having all the sex they can possibly get from the time they hit puberty until they lose virility is acceptable. In the course of the dialog, after some crude jokes about the female teacher’s weight, Carlson says this: “Now, 13-year-old boys getting laid, not a bad thing. Thirteen-year-old girls getting laid, bad thing. Particularly if the 13-year-old girl is your daughter, right?” Again, Media Matters is correct to see this discussion as showing 2006 Carlson to have been the sort of person (putting this is non-secular terms Media Matters would not use) whom no Christian should have admired, wanted to be like, or desired to support. Unless his beliefs have changed significantly since 2006, Carlson is indeed someone Bible-believing Christians should not support. Why Media Matters is so up in arms about his 2006 values isn’t entirely clear, however, since his 2006 approach to sexual morals is just the sort of sexual-revolution amorality that made abortion-on-demand indispensable to irresponsible males’ new fornication-rich lifestyle. I guess Peltz and Media Matters’ only problem with Carlson here must his suggestion that males and females should be subjected to different standards. While I agree this double standard is a problem, Carlson’s basic sexual amorality circa 2006 strikes me as the bigger concern.

Peltz’s next transcript, from 08 January 2008, contains some vulgar banter about Bill Clinton and options available to him for best indulging his lustful proclivities. None of it merits close analysis.

This ends the first set of transcripts, which Peltz places under the overall category heading of “Talking about underage girls and sex, and minimizing and defending statutory rape,” a heading that is at best very misleading. She gives her next section the heading of “Diminishing sexual violence/laughing about violence against women.”

Peltz dates her first transcript in this category to 08 April 2006. The brief transcript quotes something Carlson said in relation to the Duke lacrosse rape scandal, a racially-charged incident wherein a stripper claimed to have been raped by three members of the Duke lacrosse team, an accusation later found to be false. The Tucker remarks Peltz finds disturbing are these:

…look, here’s the bottom line….this woman sells sex for a living. OK? I’m not attacking that—I’m merely noting it. She sells sex for a living. If she’s accusing other people of nonconsensual sex, it’s a little more complicated than if some, you know, housewife claims she was pulled off the street and raped. It’s just not the same thing. It’s harder to determine what’s consensual and what’s not. And to act like, you know, these guys absolutely did it because she’s this oppressed stripper, pardon me, adult dancer or exotic dancer, whatever…they’re calling her, is ridiculous. I mean, these kids, maybe they did do something wrong, I don’t know. But, I mean, you got to give them the benefit of the doubt.

What about this does Peltz find objectionable? Carlson gave “the benefit of the doubt” to young men later shown not to have committed the crime alleged. Do Peltz and Media Matters maintain that it is just as easy to determine consent in the case of a “woman [who] sells sex for a living” as in that of a “housewife [who] claims she was pulled off the street and raped”? That hardly seems rational. Now, if Carlson had no evidence at the time that this particular stripper was also a prostitute, if he instead simply assumed that every stripper is also a prostitute, one could accuse him of unfairness and perhaps slander. His reasoning about determining consent seems sound, however.

Peltz’s selective and out-of-order transcripts continue. The next one, dated to 09 May 2006, shows Carlson objecting to so-called “rape shield laws”:

TUCKER CARLSON: Ross, I’ll tell you one thing that can be done immediately is to eliminate rape shield laws. I mean, why is it if I accuse you of embezzlement, of shooting my dog, or shooting me, of any crime, I have to go face you in open court[?] My name is available to anybody who’s reporting on the case, right?

CO-HOST: Sure.

CARLSON: Your name is in the public eye. My name is in the public eye. Why is it that, in this one category of crimes, the accuser doesn’t have to be treated as an adult? I don’t understand that. It gives the accuser all the power—

CO-HOST: Right.

CARLSON: —basically. So if I’m alleging rape, I have the protection of anonymity. I can say whatever I want while hiding behind anonymity, while the person I accused, whether he’s guilty or not, has his life destroyed. That’s totally unfair.


BUBBA…: It is true. And it’s [expletives deleted].

Co-HOST: That’s—

CARLSON: ….I mean, we’ve done a couple of shows on this, and we always [have] these feminists on who [say] kind of, “Well, because no one would ever report rape.” Really? I don’t know. Women seem to be adults to me. I mean, in other words, if you are grievously injured by another person, it’s not your fault. I don’t understand why, if you’re an adult, you just can’t get up and say, “This is what the person did to me.”

Since the #metoo Left rejects the idea that men and women should get equal treatment under the law in favor of the “we believe survivors” mantra, I’m not surprised Media Matters thinks Carlson’s position here is out of bounds. For my part, I think equal treatment under the law is the superior standard, so I’m more inclined to agree than disagree with Carlson here.

Peltz places the following heading over her next transcript, which she dates to 02 August 2006: “Carlson laughed at a story about a guest who ‘choked a girl out’ because ‘she was acting up.’” What stands out most about this transcript, however, is that nothing in it indicates that Carlson laughed at all. (Maybe he laughs in the audio. I don’t know.) Next.

Peltz’s next heading reads “Carlson didn’t say anything as co-hosts made remarks about abusing women.” She dates this transcript to 06 January 2010. Taking time to read the transcript shows Carlson asking such questions as “What do you mean you choked her out?” and “So like you flew into a steroid-fueled rage and beat up your girlfriend?” (both Bubba and guest Hulk Hogan seem to indicate they “choked out” their girlfriends or wives at some point). Since asking questions is not the same as not saying anything, Peltz’s heading is dishonest. As well, nothing in the transcript indicates Carlson showed approval of Bubba and Hogan’s actions. After Bubba says he and Hogan never used steroids, Carlson jokes that he’s “for steroids,” a joke that seems void of moral content in the context.

So ends the second set of transcripts, “Diminishing sexual violence/laughing about violence against women,” wherein neither the diminishment nor the laughing indicated can be found. At this point, I can only assume that Peltz and Media Matters are counting on readers only scanning the headings and not reading even the out-of-context transcripts. Peltz titles her next section “Sexism against specific women.”

Her first transcript in this section is dated to 02 May 2006. In a discussion centered on Alexis Stewart, daughter of Martha Stewart, Carlson and the BTLS crew use vulgarities, including one based on female anatomy that the co-host interprets as meaning “awful” and of which Carlson, after using it himself, says “I mean you said it; I’m just agreeing with you. I don’t use that word because it’s offensive.” I guess this is what passed for humor on BTLS at the time, which seems to confirm my earlier remark about the I.Q.-lowering effects of this type of radio programming. I just hope I’m still intelligent enough to function after reading all these transcripts! I certainly don’t approve of the vulgarity in question, but I’m not sure I’d call it “sexist” any more than I would call “sexist” a certain vulgarity based on male anatomy that has much the same meaning. (A usage example: As I wanted to say often as I watched that awful series of Atlas Shrugged movies, “Who is John Galt? I have no idea, but whoever he is, he’s a [vulgarity deleted].”) Also in this transcript, after Bubba makes fun of the younger Stewart’s ears, Carlson says, “I don’t normally laugh at girls’ appearances, just because I think it’s mean. But she—I’m bending the rule for her.” Tacky, juvenile, and (to me) not funny? Yes. Sexist? I’m not so sure.

In the next transcript, under the heading “Carlson called singer Britney Spears and celebrity Paris Hilton ‘the biggest white whores in America’” and bearing the date 05 August 2008, the offending phrase appears in Carlson’s attempted summary of Bubba’s theory about a commercial in which Spears and Hilton appeared with Barack Obama. The transcript ends with Carlson showing he doesn’t buy Bubba’s theory. I believe the 2008 public persona of both these women was indeed that of easy sexual availability and promiscuity, so that I imagine characterizing them as “whores” was pretty common, but it isn’t clear from this out-of-context quote whether Carlson meant to characterize the women this way himself or just intended to paraphrase a characterization already made by Bubba.

Peltz’s next micro-transcript, dated 04 November 2008, has Carlson granting the accuracy of Bubba’s accusation, in his typical locker-room diction, that Carlson wants to have sex with Sarah Palin. Vulgar, amoral, unchristian (Matthew 5:28), and unfunny? Definitely. Sexist? I’m finding it difficult to see how a man admitting that he wants to have sex with a woman is sexist. Even if he intends the admission as a joke rather than sincerely, the sexism is hard to discern. I suppose Peltz is reading objectification of women into this discussion, since it appears that Carlson is admitting to wanting to have sex with someone based on nothing but her appearance. Well, this is more of a culture-wide issue than a Tucker-Carlson issue, it seems to me. Both men and women naturally live down to whatever low standards you set for them, and today’s post-Christian culture sets very low moral standards for everyone.

Peltz dates her next entry to 11 March 2008 and titles it “Carlson called journalist Contessa Brewer ‘saucy and cute.’” Calling someone “saucy and cute” is sexist? So, when women call men in much better shape than myself “beefcakes,” that’s sexist too, right? Sorry, I can’t take this one seriously. Next.

Peltz’s next mini-transcript dates to 14 March 2006 and has Carlson saying that Hillary Clinton gets no votes from white males because “the problem with Hillary is you look at Hillary and you know in your heart that if she could castrate you, she would.” To be honest, that’s just the feeling I get from many prominent voices in the #metoo movement. (I do realize that sexual assault is a real problem in our twisted culture and that some in the #metoo movement are more sensible than that movement’s loudest voices. Still, what this movement has become makes it a net-negative development in my opinion.) Was it sexist for Carlson to share his subjective impression of Hillary Clinton? I don’t see how.

The next couple of transcript fragments, dated to 12 March 2006 and 22 January 2008, are both on the same topic of Hillary Clinton’s perceived bias against men’s characteristic anatomy, a topic I’ve already heard too much about. Next.

The next fragment, which Peltz dates to 10 October 2006, has Carlson calling Arianna Huffington “a pig” because she “attacked” his father in some way (so the co-host indicates). Responding to an attack against your father with a mild insult is sexist? I don’t think so.

The next fragment, assigned the date 11 December 2007, has Carlson characterizing Oprah Winfrey as biased against men in much the same way he believed Hillary Clinton to be, though no surgical procedures seem to have been mentioned in this case. As well, “The subtext of every Oprah show is men suck. They abuse you, they rape you, they sleep with your sister and leave you.” I’ve never watched Oprah’s show, so I’ll have to leave assessment of Carlson’s accuracy to others. If claiming that a woman is sexist against men is itself sexist, which is what Peltz seems to assume by including this fragment….Well, I’ll let the reader sort out the implications of that. That Carlson and the BTLS crew dislike Oprah is evident; that the way they express their dislike should be labeled “sexist” is less evident.

In a tiny transcript from 11 May 2010, Carlson and the BTLS crew discuss the physical appearance of then Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan and find it wanting. Adolescent stuff for a show clearly meant for a male audience (that Carlson’s daughter was a fan worries me), no doubt. Is it sexist? Well, it’s tacky, but it’s also a kind of conversation quite prevalent among males in our culture, no less now than in 2010. I doubt it would be possible to stop men from assessing women in this way, though I suppose nothing would be lost if these conversations were voluntarily kept off the airwaves, since they do not edify (Romans 15:2).

As one section ends, another begins. Peltz calls the next section “Sexism against unnamed women.”

The first transcript, dated 02 May 2006, contains no sexist material. Instead, it has Carlson suggesting that women actually respond positively if one directly contradicts them and says outrageously sexist things. I don’t know if Carlson’s correct, but his believing so doesn’t mean he’s sexist.

In her heading for the next transcript, dated 11 March 2008, Peltz indicates that in it Carlson “called sex workers [that is, prostitutes] in Florida ‘slutty and pathetic.’” Reading the transcript itself shows, on the contrary, that Carlson asked hypothetically if the reason they were less expensive than prostitutes elsewhere was that they “are just so slutty and pathetic”? Weary of BTLS’s nauseating and degrading subject matter, I won’t go into more detail about this transcript, other than to say prostitution prices and methamphetamines figure prominently, but I will praise Carlson for at least saying, “I don’t go to hookers.” It ain’t much, but in the moral cesspool that is modern America, we bluenoses must take what we can get.

The next transcript, dated 22 January 2008, is more of the same. Are these discussions of prostitution pricing and quality both sexist and immoral? I’d have to say, “yes.” Do they merit further discussion? I have to say, “no.”

Next (when will it end?) in Media Matters’ collection is a fairly typical what-women-want conversation, wherein men, who are probably clueless, speculate about female motivations and expectation. It dates to 30 October 2007 and contains a kind of talk that is so common in television shows, movies, and comic routines that I think it qualifies as a cliché:

TUCKER CARLSON: By the way, women hate you when they do you wrong and you put up with it.

CO-HOST: Exactly.

CARLSON: Because they hate weakness. They’re like dogs that way. They can smell it on you, and they have contempt for it; they’ll bite you.

… [ellipses Peltz’s]

CARLSON: I mean, I love women, but they’re extremely primitive, they’re basic, they’re not that hard to understand. And one of the things they hate more than anything is weakness in a man.

Technically, it probably is sexist to characterize all persons of a given sex as having certain characteristics, but both men and women characterize people of the opposite sex in this blanket and stereotypical way all the time (“men are pigs” is a very popular phrase among women, for example). Characterizing whole groups of people, rather than assessing individuals individually, is always inaccurate and unfair. (I find characterizations of whole generations, such as millennials, especially onerous.) But if we’re going to condemn Carlson for his speculations here we’ll need to also condemn just about everyone.

Remaining transcripts fall under the following headings: “Carlson: ‘There’s no Canadian woman that you’d want to pay to sleep with’” (18 November 2008), “Carlson: ‘I spanked Michael Moore like a bad little girl’ [meaning Carlson beat him in a debate]” (14 March 2006), “Carlson: 2008 Republican primary presidential candidate Fred Thompson is ‘my hero’ because he said his ‘favorite possession’ is his ‘trophy wife’” (08 January 2008). This last batch of “Sexism against unnamed women” fragments confirm that Carlson circa 2008 was very at ease hanging out with and behaving like his low-brow buddies on the men-behaving-badly BTLS radio program. Like the rest of Peltz’s transcripts, these selections show that Carlson at this time was well at ease being a part of our licentious culture, was well-versed in the hackneyed and uncouth ways that today’s males often speak to one another, and was someone who enjoyed saying things sure to upset people more concerned with propriety and decorum—in other words, he was a suitable shock-radio presence. I, as a confirmed bluenose (at least an aspiring one), know from these transcripts that I don’t admire and would not want to imitate 2006–2011 Tucker Carlson, much as I don’t admire and would not want to imitate 1990s–early-2000s Donald Trump. Both these men were post-Christian men acting in accord with the ideals of a post-Christian culture, regardless of whether they professed religious belief of some sort to either feel better about themselves or to make themselves more appealing to supporters.

At the same time, while some things I’ve heard Carlson say on Tucker Carlson Tonight make me think his values now might be pretty close to his values then, he at least seems to be fair-minded, a quality Peltz and Media Matters seem to lack. Also praiseworthy is his willingness to try to think things through, something that is even evident in multiple of these transcripts. As the morals of unbelievers go, his are about average. As for present-day Trump, since I brought him up for comparison, there can be no doubt that his reshaping of the American judicial system through conservative appointments has probably added at least a few years of life to our ailing republic. Having based my preelection assessment of him on his 1990s–early-2000s shenanigans, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how true he’s been to his promises to the pro-lifers and evangelicals who bet on him. The worst things he’s done in office, in fact, have been to go against his initial non-interventionist, America-first instincts and adopt the sort of world-policeman policies favored by neocons and the insiders of both major parties. His failure to take the debt as seriously as it should be taken, choosing instead to make overoptimistic assumptions about growth, is also objectionable, but this just puts him in step with most elected officials of both major parties.

Trump digression aside, the time has come to answer this post’s central question. So, just how evil is Tucker Carlson? If we assume, and this is not a small assumption, that his evilness is the same now as it was in 2006–2011, then the answer seems to be that he is just about as evil as most other people in America today. All transcript fragments considered, in 2006–2011 Tucker Carlson seems to have been a typical secular American male: no example for Christians to imitate or admire, no crusader for moral reformers to support, but no worse than most other men in this post-Christian nation.

Notes & Elaborations

[1] Madeline Peltz, “In unearthed audio, Tucker Carlson makes numerous misogynistic and perverted comments,” posted to the Media Matters site on 10 March 2019 (accessed 16 March 2019), italicization of show title added in this case, though Media Matters italicizes it in the prior paragraph.

[2] On a Glen Beck YouTube clip, I heard “Bubba” identify his show’s content as “locker-room talk,” the “excuse” once offered for some recorded Trump remarks, as you might recall. Though I never got comfortable with “locker-room talk” when I was an unbeliever, I do know that men, given no higher standard by which to judge their own thoughts and behavior, typically see such talk as harmless fun and part of “male bonding.” As a Bible-believing Christian, of course, I now believe that both men and women should strive to think and act virtuously in all environments, which means that Christians should not involve themselves in locker-room talk. “It was just locker-room talk” is not an acceptable excuse from a Christian, who must instead say, “I repent and I’ll try to do better,” then act accordingly. Of course, this is only possible if the misbehavior is called to the Christian’s attention sometime near when it happens. Time travel having not been invented, correction of long-past errors remains impossible.

[3] “Good Christian™ Tucker Carlson joked about underage girls, rape on radio show—He defended cult leader Warren Jeffs, a convicted pedophile who facilitated marriages between underaged girls and adult men, claiming he was in prison because ‘he has a different lifestyle,’” posted to Reddit by user “agnostic atheist” on 10 March 2019, referencing Jezebel.com’s article “Tucker Carlson Seems to Have Some Fun Thoughts About Women, Underage Girls, & Statutory Rape,” posted by Rebecca Fishbein on the same date (both accessed 16 March 2019). As you’ll note, user “agnostic atheist” capitalizes and places the trademark sign after his use of the “good Christian” phrase. I suppose the user thinks this pretended attempt to anonymously trademark a ubiquitous phrase is humorous. Perhaps it is, though not very. Reddit, of course, is an online forum where anonymity means never having to check your facts or control your language.

[4] “Warren Jeffs sentenced to 2 five to life terms for child-bride marriage,” posted to the Deseret News site on 19 November 2007 (accessed 16 March 2019).

[5] Lindsay Whitehurst, “Warren Jeffs gets life in prison for sex with underage girls,” The Salt Lake Tribune online, 10 August 2011, available from the Tribune’s archive (accessed 16 March 2019).

[6] I believe age differentials this extreme were not uncommon in the Middle Ages, though at that time polygamy would not have been involved, just an older man with an estate to preserve marrying a youth after the decease of his original wife. At that time, I presume, as soon as a youth became physically capable of bearing children she would be eligible to marry. Of course, those of us living today like to believe that social norms and human morality have improved rather than degenerated since the Middle Ages, so medieval precedent wouldn’t help Jeffs’ case even if he had taken only one underage wife.

[7] Interestingly, Peltz’s transcript chooses the longer “The Love Sponge” over the shorter “Bubba” for the shortened version of “Bubba the Love Sponge,” even though when Carlson notes how his daughter is a fan of the show, in Peltz’s transcript for another audio snippet, he says she “is a huge Bubba [not Love Sponge] fan.” Could Peltz not see, as Carlson did, that “Bubba” is much shorter than “The Love Sponge”? Of course she could. She used “The Love Sponge” just to make sure the transcript seemed as vulgar as possible.

[8] Posted to the Media Matters site on 13 February 2019 (accessed 17 March 2019).

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