Tucker Carlson

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Tucker Carlson, from 12-06-04 broadcast of Crossfire.
Tucker Carlson, from 12-06-04 broadcast of Crossfire.

Tucker Carlson (born May 16, 1969 in San Francisco, California) is a conservative pundit best known as a former co-host for CNN's Crossfire, representing "the right." Distinguished by his moppish hair and colorful bow ties, Carlson is generally considered one of the most recognizable conservative personalities in American television.

Carlson currently hosts The Situation with Tucker Carlson on cable news network MSNBC, and is a contributor to Esquire magazine and the conservative magazine, The Weekly Standard. He also previously hosted PBS's Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered from 2004-2005.



Tucker Carlson is the son of Richard W. Carlson, who was president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from 1992 to 1997. His stepmother is Patricia Carlson, heir to the Swanson frozen-food fortune.

Carlson completed private secondary education at St. George's School, Newport, Rhode Island. He then attended Trinity College in Connecticut for four years without obtaining a degree. Carlson describes his college experience thus:

"After four years, I had met a lot of interesting people, gone to a couple of classes and restored a motorcycle, and that was it. And so I wasted my time at college."

Prior to his television career, Carlson was a member of the editorial staff of Policy Review magazine, one of the country's leading conservative journals, and a staff writer for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

In 2003, Carlson authored an autobiographical book on his experiences in television news, Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News.

An independent conservative thinker

Carlson has stated that while he votes, and cares deeply about conservative ideas, he does not care about the success or failure of any political party. This partisan ambivalence has been a cause of friction between him and Republican political figures and movement conservatives. In 1999, during the 2000 Republican Presidential primary race, Carlson interviewed then-Governor George W. Bush for Talk Magazine. Carlson reported that Bush mocked soon-to-be-executed Texas death-row inmate Karla Faye Tucker and "cursed like a sailor." Bush's communications director Karen Hughes publicly disputed this claim.

While vocalizing conservative views, Carlson has not hesitated periodically to level criticism at fellow conservatives. Carlson has been a harsh critic of conservative activist Grover Norquist, for instance, calling Norquist a "mean-spirited, humorless, dishonest little creep ... an embarrassing anomaly, the leering, drunken uncle everyone else wishes would stay home...[he] is repulsive, granted, but there aren't nearly enough of him to start a purge trial."[1] (

Carlson also has said that he is not "particularly anti-[illegal]drug," and that, while he reluctantly supported the Iraq War at the outset, he reversed his position after traveling to Baghdad to report for Esquire. Upon his return, he expressed his disgust with the war and his shame with himself for supporting it earlier. "I think it's a total nightmare and disaster, and I'm ashamed that I went against my own instincts in supporting it," he said. "I want things to work out, but I'm enraged by it, actually."


Tucker receives similar criticism from conservatives that Alan Colmes receives from liberals. Tucker is also viewed as milquetoast, a weak ineffective counter to his show's liberal counterparts. He's also critized as boring, having no inside information or intellectual rigor.

Critics point to his lack of response to Jon Stewart's attack (see below) as evidence of his inability to effectively argue. Additional criticism was bestowed on him when he incorrectly predicted in the Washington Post, a Kerry victory in the U.S. presidential election, 2004.

Notable Crossfire moments

In July 2003, after Senator Hillary Clinton's book Living History was published, Carlson doubted the potential popularity of the book and declared during a broadcast that if it sold more than one million copies he "Will in fact eat my shoes because I'm a man of my word." When her book eventually passed the millionth copy sales mark, Clinton made a surprise appearance on the show in which she brought Carlson a chocolate cake designed like a shoe.

In October, 2004, Carlson and liberal co-host Paul Begala were engaged in an unusually confrontational episode of Crossfire with comedian and television talk show host Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, which was widely circulated through the Internet and commented on throughout the media. Although Stewart was ostensibly scheduled to promote his best-selling comedy book, America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, Stewart spent the entire episode seriously criticizing the premise of shows such as Crossfire, arguing that they are "hurting America." In a memorable verbal exchange of that episode, after instructing Stewart to "be funny," Carlson remarked:

"I do think you're more fun on your show."

to which Stewart responded:

"You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show."

For his part, Carlson said after the broadcast and during the ensuing media frenzy that while he agreed with some of Stewart's comments, Stewart is "the most sanctimonious comedian I've ever met," and that Stewart "needs to recognize where Crossfire is on the media food chain."

Carlson's last day on Crossfire was January 6, 2005. CNN CEO Jonathan Klein commented to the Associated Press, "I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp." It has been speculated that the Stewart episode was important in his decision to cancel the show and to not renew Carlson's contract, but Klein has said that decision was actually made six months earlier, in April. It also has been speculated that Carlson failed to meet CNN's ratings expectations when he guest-hosted NewsNight with Aaron Brown for a week towards the end of his contract.

From CNN to PBS to MSNBC

After leaving CNN, Carlson hosted his own show on PBS called Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered.

On February 2, 2005, MSNBC announced that they had signed Carlson to develop and host a primetime (9pm EST) MSNBC show, as a replacement for Deborah Norville. The Situation with Tucker Carlson premiered on June 13, 2005, with one of Carlson's first guests being the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Personal life

Carlson is married to Susan Andrews. They live in New Jersey with their son and three daughters.

External links



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