Skip to main content
Welcome to
super saver spring
offer ends april 20
save over $140
save over 85%
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks
Welcome to
super saver spring
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Fox News host Tucker Carlson discusses 'Populism and the Right' during the National Review Institute's Ideas Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington on March 29, 2019.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When we last checked in with Fox News, always a walk on the wild side, the channel was in ratings-trouble. Mildly so. Ratings were down in the immediate post-U.S. election period and right-wing outlets Newsmax and OAN were attracting disgruntled Fox News viewers.

Well, that didn’t last long. Rupert Murdoch went in and shook things up. These days Newsmax has half the audience it had last November when Donald Trump was pushing his rigged-election thing with energy. OAN doesn’t get involved in audience measurement because, one assumes, it might be revealed that the small gathering of elderly shut-ins who watch it are doing so by accident.

Fox News is back and winning big, or bigly, you could say. In early March it dominated the prime-time hours again. Could it be the recent arrival of Kayleigh McEnany, former White House press secretary, as a Fox News contributor?

Story continues below advertisement

Binge-watching guide: More than 30 series and specials to help you get through winter

Nope. Right now Tucker Carlson is its top anchor. He’s bigger than Sean Hannity and getting much higher ratings than competitors Anderson Cooper on CNN and Chris Hayes on MSNBC. How’s he doing this? Well, by attacking women, mostly.

It could be speculated that a nation gestates and builds a concept of itself through the impressions and constructs that are part of the popular culture, in movies, TV shows and news coverage. But let’s not even go there because scrutiny of Fox News in that context would suggest the United States is a misogynist hell-hole.

There’s a distinct pattern to Tucker Carlson’s recent rants and obsession. It suggests he is really mad at one woman and venting anger by attacking all women. His specific targets have been Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, a reporter for the New York Times and women in the U.S. military. In the latter matter, Carlson is apparently outraged to high heaven that arrangements are made to ensure pregnant women serving in the military can do their job in safety. Now, as the whole world except Tucker Carlson knows, you can’t be throwing verbal missiles at pregnant women.

In response to his angry blather last week, a Pentagon spokesman said, “What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk show host.” Well, good. During the previous U.S. administration, personnel advice came solely from all-news talk show hosts.

One of the oddest aspects of Carlson’s sexist obsessions was his approach to the Meghan and Prince Harry interview with Oprah. Next day, Carlson frowned – you know that frown – and snapped, “Who cares? So, we’re going to take a hard pass on the whole thing.” That’s his right. But, “hard pass”? He then spent 17 minutes talking about it, mainly about Meghan.

In the days between his mad meanderings about Meghan and before his strange outburst about pregnant women in the U.S. military, Carlson spent time belittling and sneering at New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz. Her crime was to write and put on Twitter, “For international women’s day please consider supporting women enduring online harassment. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the harassment and smear campaign I’ve had to endure over the past year has destroyed my life. No one should have to go through this.”

Lorenz writes about technology and the online arena for the paper. She’s no media star; she simply does a good job on her beat. For Carlson, the young reporter’s remarks were the epitome of what’s wrong with America. He referred to her as “privileged” and dismissed her experiences as “not real harassment.” For him, a woman complaining about online harassment is “woke-ism” at its worst.

Story continues below advertisement

He also did a sinister thing. On Lorenz’s Twitter feed she uses an avatar of a blobfish. Carlson and his team replaced that with a picture of Lorenz smiling. Just to let his viewers know what she looks like. It was seriously creepy and, as the Times has reported, vitriol aimed at the young reporter then soared.

That was a week of Tucker Carlson’s show: lambasting women and sneering at their concerns, even their right to complain. Last Thursday when Fox News aired President Joe Biden’s national address it was during Tucker Carlson’s program and, while Biden spoke, Fox News featured a “Live Tucker Reaction” graphic in the corner. That meant a little box in the bottom-right corner featuring Carlson frowning. What, you wondered, was he thinking as he stared at the camera while Biden spoke? Probably going through his list of women who needed a good talking-to.

As for Kayleigh McEnany, her main contributions to date have been attacks on the Biden administration for not acknowledging Donald Trump’s great vaccine plan. But her first significant contribution, on Fox & Friends, was to attack her successor, Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki, for saying she will “circle back” to get an answer to a reporter’s question.

It was mean-spirited but mild. She’ll learn to do it the Fox News way – attack women again and again. It’s what gets ratings. Carlson spent two nights berating Taylor Lorenz, and declared her a “deeply unhappy narcissist.” Look who’s talking.

Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies