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Who is Tucker Carlson and why is he so controversial?

Who is Tucker Carlson and why is he so controversial?

Former Fox News cable show host Tucker Carlson is set to release a controversial interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Thursday evening.

Mr Carlson is the first western journalist to secure an interview with Mr Putin since the Russian president’s forces invaded Ukraine almost two years ago.

Mr Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Mr Carlson had been chosen for the interview because “he has a position which differs” from other western media.

The interview, Mr Carlson said in his video, will be distributed for free on his website and on X, formerly Twitter.

Posting on X on Tuesday, with the Kremlin in the background, he said: “Here’s why we’re doing it. First, because it’s our job. We’re in journalism. Our duty is to inform people, two years into a war that’s reshaping the entire world.

“Most Americans are not informed. They have no real idea what’s happening in this region, here in Russia or 600 miles away in Ukraine, but they should know. They’re paying for much of it in ways they might not fully yet perceive.”

Who is he?

Mr Carlson was born on May 16, 1969 and was the eldest son of Lisa McNear and Dick Carlson. He grew up in San Francisco, California, before later moving to San Diego after his parents divorced.

His father remarried to Patricia Caroline Swanson, an heiress to Swanson Enterprises, a large US firm that developed canned foods and ready meals.

Mr Carlson attended St. George’s School, a boarding school in Middletown, Rhode Island, before spending four years at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Tucker Carlson during a live discussion hosted by Tim Pool at Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest (YouTube / Tim Pool)
Tucker Carlson during a live discussion hosted by Tim Pool at Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest (YouTube / Tim Pool)

However, he did not graduate and after encouragement from his father, decided to pursue a career in journalism.

Mr Carlson worked for a number of prominent news organisations such as CNN, PBS and MSNBC, before securing a role with Fox News, where he would become TV host of the most popular, and controversial show, in the US.

His most well-known stint prior to starting at Fox News was hosting political chat show Crossfire. In a later viral clip he was called a “d**k” by comedian Jon Stewart after they clashed in 2004 on the show.

He is married to Susan Thomson Carlson, who he met while at boarding school, and they have four children together.

Why is he so controversial?

Mr Carlson’s started as a contributor at Fox News in 2009 and rapidly ascended through the organisation to become the most famous voice of Conservative media in the United States.

His show attracted a loyal following, averaging almost 3.5 million viewers a night in 2022, but was dogged by allegations of racism, promoting anti-immigrant sentiment and peddling conspiracy theories.

Tucker Carlson speaks at the Turning Point Action conference, Saturday, July 15, 2023, in West Palm Beach, Florida (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Tucker Carlson speaks at the Turning Point Action conference, Saturday, July 15, 2023, in West Palm Beach, Florida (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Mr Carlson’s rhetorical style is akin to US radio shock jocks and his embrace of sacred Republican political ideals, such as his anti-abortion position and enthusiastic backingof gun rights, led to fevered speculation he could one day become a presidential candidate.

His show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, was involved in many scandals, on and off-screen controversies and cruel behaviour.

In 2018 a number of large sponsors, such as Land Rover and Samsung, boycotted the show after Mr Carlson said that immigrants make the US “poorer, dirtier, and more divided.”

He described Black Live Matter protesters as “criminal mobs”, described white supremacy as a “hoax” and claimed that the metric system was a conspiracy.

Tucker Carlson interviewed former President Donald Trump ahead of the Republican Party’s first 2024 election debate (Tucker on X)
Tucker Carlson interviewed former President Donald Trump ahead of the Republican Party’s first 2024 election debate (Tucker on X)

Mr Carlson conducted an unhinged attack on Mulsim congressman Illhan Omar, saying that she was “living proof that immigration has made the US more dangerous”.

Perhaps his most egregious offence however, was that Mr Carlson, alongside fellow hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, peddled former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election being rigged.

Privately Mr Carlson mocked Mr Trump’s allies, said he hated him and described him as a “demonic force”.

This information was revealed in pre-court filings after Fox News was sued by Dominion Voting Systems, for its coverage of the 2020 presidential election.

Fox was forced into a humilitating settlement of $787.5m, and not long afterwards the network’s superstar presenter was relieved of his job.

What has he done since?

Mr Carlson spent very little time on the sidelines before launching a partnership with X, formerly known as Twitter, for a new show which was warmly received by the social media network’s owner Elon Musk.

He later launched his own subscription website and has interviewed a number of promiment people, such as UFC boss Dana White, Donald Trump and Argentinian president.

Mr Carlson has used his X account to rail against the corporate media spreading “thinly disguised propaganda”, despite regularly spreading false information, distorted facts and hateful content on his Fox News show.