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The Tucker Carlson Exception

The Fox News host isn’t apologizing for his misogynistic, homophobic and racist comments. The network doesn’t care

Tucker Carlson, host of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio, in New YorkTucker Carlson, New York, USA - 02 Mar 2017

Tucker Carlson of Fox News

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Bubba the Love Sponge is a Florida-based shock jock radio DJ best known for filming Hulk Hogan having sex with his wife. Naturally, he’s found his way back into the news now that Donald Trump is in office. As it turns out, Bubba had a longstanding relationship with unofficial presidential adviser Tucker Carlson, who called into his show for an hour a week from 2006 to 2011. Media Matters combed through some of these calls and found a trove of disturbing comments that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone marginally familiar with the Fox News host.

On Sunday, Media Matters published audio of Carlson making several demeaning comments about women and defending child rape. “Arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old and a 27-year-old is not the same as pulling a stranger off the street and raping her,” he said while defending a man who is in prison for facilitation of child rape. “That’s bullshit.” In other clips, he said women need to “be quiet and do what they’re told”; described women as “extremely primitive, they’re basic, they’re not that hard to understand”; and called Martha Stewart’s daughter Alexis a “cunt” who he wanted to give “the spanking she so desperately needs.”

A day later, they released clips of him discussing Iraq in 2006. “Iraq is a crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semiliterate primitive monkeys,” he said, adding that he has “zero sympathy for them or their culture,” where people “don’t use toilet paper or forks.” When Bubba said he agrees, though pointed out that the United States had invaded their homeland, Carlson didn’t care. “They can just shut the fuck up and obey, is my view.”

The audio dump also features sound bites of Carlson bashing Islam, questioning if Barack Obama is black and arguing that immigrants need to be able to offer something to the country, like being “hot.”

Carlson responded on-air Monday night by pointing his finger at “the people who consider Bill Clinton a hero,” “the people who write our movies and our sitcoms” and progressives who are “too busy pushing late-term abortion and cross-dressing on fifth-graders.” They are all hypocrites who “demand total conformity” and are trying to “control what you think,” Carlson argues. The uncovered audio would be career-killing for anyone outside of the president, but Carlson works for Fox News. He closed the show Monday night by citing the network’s support. “Fox News is behind us,” said Carlson. “They have been since the very first day. Toughness is a rare quality in a TV network and we are grateful for that.”

Earlier on Monday, Carlson tweeted that he would not be apologizing. “Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago,” he wrote. “Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch. Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”

Carlson’s argument that the comments were made “more than a decade ago” doesn’t hold much water. For one, so what? Secondly, there’s been no indication his beliefs have changed since his on-air relationship with Bubba — whom he said he loved in 2006 “in a completely faggot way” — expired. In 2014, he said there was “no victim” when discussing a case in which a teacher sexually assaulted an underage student. A year later, he said on a podcast with Gavin McInnes, the founder of the hate group Proud Boys, that women who have sex with underage boys should not be considered rapists. On Tucker Carlson Tonight, which he began hosting less than a week after Trump was elected in 2016, a typical argument may be that society can’t function unless men earn more money than women. His bread and butter, though, is the demonization of immigrants, which has put him in the good graces of at least one prominent white supremacist group, as Media Matters pointed out over the weekend.

Somehow, there are still companies willing to advertise on Tucker Carlson Tonight, but the number has been dwindling. In December, several fled after Carlson said that immigrants make “our country poorer and dirtier and more divided.” Even more left when, a night later, he doubled down by juxtaposing migrants with piles of garbage. Though Fox News publicly condemned Islamophobic comments from Jeanine Pirro on Saturday night, the network has stood by Carlson at every turn. “It is a shame that left wing advocacy groups, under the guise of being supposed ‘media watchdogs’ weaponize social media against companies in an effort to stifle free speech,” a Fox News spokesperson wrote in a statement provided to Rolling Stone in December. “We continue to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions.”

But the network brass may be getting a little worried about their coiffed star host. On Wednesdays, March 14th, Fox News will for the first time host a presentation at its New York headquarters to woo advertisers as the network spirals deeper and deeper into white supremacist demagoguery. Media Matters has organized a protest outside the network’s studios that will coincide with the meeting.

When Rolling Stone reached out to Fox News for comment on the controversy, the network only pointed to how Carlson addressed it on his show Monday night.

This post has been updated.

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