Tucker Carlson, the conservative firebrand and bow-tie enthusiast, is always ready to give a controversial take on his nightly Fox News channel program, Tucker Carlson Tonight. And to say he has an audience would be an understatement. In June 2020, Carlson’s show became the highest-rated program in the history of cable news, with no signs of slowing down. To his fans, he’s a right-wing populist hero speaking truth to power. To his critics, however, he’s been accused of spouting dangerous views.
In July 2020, Carlson’s top writer on his show, Blake Neff, resigned after his racist and sexist posts on a secret message board came to light. The following week, anonymous Fox News staffers revealed to the Daily Beast that the channel’s hosts have reportedly “created a white supremacist cell inside the top cable network in America.” The report also revealed that the company’s Black employees and on-air talent have allegedly become increasingly upset over Carlson’s monologues about Black Lives Matter and police brutality — which have seemingly made their way into President Donald Trump’s speeches.
However, Carlson’s critics aren’t just coming from inside the house. The cable news host has drawn the ire from everyone from sitting senators to Grammy Award-winning rappers. Let’s take a look at the celebrities who can’t stand Tucker Carlson.
Tucker Carlson accused Lil Nas X of inciting riots
As protests and demonstrations swept across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in late May 2020, Tucker Carlson took aim at corporations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as celebrities who donated to bail funds used to aid arrested protesters across the country.
“Big companies — cynical, soulless, craven corporations like Pepsi, Intel, and AirBnB are funding this chaos,” Carlson said during a June 2020 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight (via Deadline). “They’re giving money to Black Lives Matter, which is pushing to defund the police. But it isn’t just major corporations that are fueling all of this. Celebrities are, too, by paying to get violent rioters out of jail.” Carlson called out numerous celebs, but specifically cited “Old Town Road” rapper Lil Nas X for using his massive social media following to encourage donations. “Imagine if he had used those followers instead to help small businesses destroyed by the riots he helped incite,” Carlson said.
That bold claim caught the Grammy Award-winning artist’s attention. “This man just lied and told millions of people on national television that I was inciting riots. you can’t make this up,” Lil Nas X tweeted. Actor Seth Rogan, who was also included in Carlson’s rant, replied to the rapper-singer’s tweet with, “F**k this pasty a**hole.”
Patton Oswalt welcomed Tucker Carlson’s hate
Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt was also included among the celebrities Tucker Carlson blasted for supporting Black Lives Matter and donating to bail funds in June 2020. However, the unbothered Ratatouille star wore it as a badge of honor. “Got this e-mail from my mom when she heard about Tucker Carlson doing his celebrity roll-call bulls**t on his show. I love her,” Oswalt tweeted, along with an image of his mother’s message, telling him, “You are a good boy (I always knew).”
During an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert later that month, Oswalt discussed Carlson’s comments and joked that he was upset that Carlson didn’t use a better photo of him. “Apparently, I and about a dozen other evil left-wing celebrity cabal decided to give money to super-villains in the streets — protesters,” Oswalt quipped. Speaking about how Carlson’s “Naughty Celebrity List” was “the best list to be on,” he went on to joke that he was thrilled when images of himself and singer Harry Styles scrolled beside each other during the segment just as the Fox News host said the words, “Hollywood power couple.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Tucker Carlson is a ‘white supremacist sympathizer’
New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a frequent target of Fox News. So when Tucker Carlson played a clip of garbage in New York City during a December 2019 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight, his guest — conservative writer Seth Barron — unsurprisingly took a shot at her stance on the environment.
“How can we take seriously anything she says about the environment when this is her congressional district? She should be ashamed of this,” Barron said (via USA Today). He then went on to call Ocasio-Cortez’s Bronx district “one of the least American districts in the country,” claiming that it was filled, not by many “American citizens,” but rather a “high percentage” of “illegal aliens.”
Naturally, the outspoken member of “The Squad” — who is famously known by her nickname, AOC — didn’t take too kindly to that exchange. “I go back and forth on whether to go on Fox News,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “The main reason I haven’t is squaring the fact that the ad revenue from it bankrolls a white supremacist sympathizer to broadcast an hour-long production of unmitigated racism, without any accountability whatsoever.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar called Tucker Carlson a ‘racist fool’
Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar is another frequent target of Tucker Carlson, and he didn’t hold back during a nearly three-minute monologue in July 2019, attacking the Somalia-born representative with an anti-immigrant rant.
Per The Guardian, Carlson described Omar as “living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country.” The controversial Fox News host went on to say that Omar should be “grateful” for being allowed to come to America from “one of the world’s poorest countries.” He added, “But she isn’t grateful, not at all. After everything America has done for Omar and her family, she hates this country more than ever.” Wow. Carlson then issued a warning to his viewers: “So be grateful for Ilhan Omar, as annoying as she is. She’s a living fire alarm. A warning to the rest of us that we better change our immigration system immediately – or else.” Yikes.
Omar, who’s not known for quietly accepting hate that comes her way, fired back on Twitter. “Not gonna lie, it’s kinda fun watching a racist fool like this weeping about my presence in Congress,” she wrote, alongside two crying-laughing emojis. “No lies will stamp out my love for this country or my resolve to make our union more perfect. They will just have to get used to calling me Congresswoman!”
Did Shepard Smith quit Fox News because of Tucker Carlson?
On Oct. 11, 2019, Fox News‘ chief news anchor Shepard “Shep” Smith shocked viewers and colleagues alike when he announced that he was leaving his post after being with the cable news channel since its inception in 1996. According to Vanity Fair, Smith’s decision didn’t come out of the blue. Rather, it was the result of a long internal struggle that had the reliably objective veteran news anchor pushing back on the network’s plan to become President Donald Trump’s mouthpiece — which ignited a feud with Tucker Carlson.
When Smith hosted Andrew Napolitano the previous month, the former judge said Trump’s phone call with the President of Ukraine to find dirt on presidential hopeful Joe Biden was a “criminal” offense. In response, Carlson hosted pro-Trump lawyer Joe DiGenova, who attacked Napolitano’s assessment on-air and called him a “fool.” Smith, in return, referred to Carlson’s segment “repugnant,” since he did not defend Napolitano.
Vanity Fair‘s report alleged that Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace then called Smith and warned him about attacking Carlson. “They said if he does it again, he’s off the air,” a source with knowledge of the call claimed. However, a Fox News spokesperson said that call never happened, stating to Forbes, “At no time did anyone — including anyone in management or a third party — speak to Shepard Smith regarding this matter. Anything to the contrary is entirely false and wildly inaccurate.”
Stephen Colbert: ‘Tucker has debased himself’
During a 2018 episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the affable late-night talk show host took aim at Tucker Carlson over his feud with Stormy Daniel’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti.
After Daniels and Avenatti made an appearance together on The View, Carlson had a few words: “They gave three segments of their show to a newly-minted political pundit who has spent her career having sex with strangers for money. Along for the ride was her creepy porn lawyer.” For his part, Avenatti fired back on Twitter, writing (via The Wrap), “Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson. Do you truly expect people to believe that you have never viewed porn? When is the last time you viewed porn? You demean my client and me because of her profession, while you are an absolute hypocrite. Nobody likes a hypocrite.”
Stephen Colbert took it from there. “That is a low blow, Avenatti,” he quipped. “You leave Tucker alone. Do you think he likes being a hypocrite? No, but it’s part of his job. Yes, over the years, Tucker has debased himself. He has degraded his reputation by saying disgusting things with his mouth, all in front of a camera for the cheap thrills of an audience of old men, just for a few dollars — but he needed the money.” Colbert added, “All I’m saying is, being Tucker Carlson is a legitimate profession — you just shudder to think of your children growing up to do it. He’s somebody’s little boy!”
John Oliver called Tucker Carlson a ‘total f**king moron’
Last Week Tonight host John Oliver didn’t hold back after Tucker Carlson took issue with … Sesame Street. In June 2020, the iconic children’s program hosted a CNN town hall, where Elmo and his father explained the concept of systemic racism to young children in order to discuss the Black Lives Matter protests. Needless to say, Carlson didn’t appreciate that.
“Got that, Bobby? America is a very bad place and it’s your fault, so no matter what happens, no matter what they do to you when you grow up, you have no right to complain,” Carlson responded on his show (via The Guardian). “This may be a lot of things, this moment we’re living through, but it is definitely not about Black lives. Remember that when they come for you, and at this rate, they will.”
Oliver then responded on his show and — whoo, boy! “First, obviously: F**k off, Tucker, you one-man homeowner’s association. And second, that unspecified ‘they’ in ‘what they do to you when you grow up’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting there,” he began (via the Daily Beast). “There’s basically two options for what that could mean. One, that Tucker and his viewers have benefited from a racist system that renders any specifications of who they are unnecessary; or two, that his show is a badly written piece of garbage.” Oliver added: “So which is it, Tucker? Are you a racist or are you a total f**king moron? The answer can be, and indeed is, both.”
Samantha Bee thinks Tucker Carlson’s show is ‘a racist trash heap’
Days after Media Matters unearthed horrific comments Tucker Carlson made during a 2009 radio appearance — he seemingly defended underage marriage, called women “primitive,” and claimed Iraq was filled with “semi-literate primitive monkeys” – Full Frontal host Samantha Bee bashed the conservative host over his response.
“Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago,” Carlson tweeted in March 2019. “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.”
Bee then did just that on her own show, using several clips from Carlson’s show as evidence. “Well, guess what, f**ko? We have been watching your show,” she said during the segment. “And we found that it’s a revolting trash heap of racist talking points.” In the subsequent series of videos, Carlson took his usual anti-immigrant stance by claiming the United States admitting immigrants would make “our own country poorer and dirtier” and force “demographic replacement.” In response, Bee quipped, “Where have I heard sweaty white men yelling about being replaced before?” before pulling up a clip of white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville chanting similar sentiments.
As the Daily Beast put, Bee “demolished” Tucker with this segment.
Jon Stewart called Tucker Carlson a ‘partisan hack’
During an infamous 2004 appearance on the now-defunct CNN show Crossfire, Jon Stewart didn’t pull any punches with his fellow panel guests, Democratic strategist Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson. “Here’s what I wanted to tell you guys: Stop. Stop hurting America,” the then-host of The Daily Show said, before calling them both “partisan hacks” (via The Hollywood Reporter). Ouch.
Carlson then referred to Stewart’s lecture as “boring,” leading Stewart to fire back by making fun of Carlson’s bow tie. “You’re doing theater when you should be doing debate,” Stewart said. “What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery.” The heated exchange then became a bit volatile when Carlson started throwing insults at The Daily Show. However, Stewart asserted that it was a comedy show that’s not to be taken seriously, saying, “You’re on CNN. The show leading into me is puppets making crank phone calls. What is wrong with you?”
The exchange ended up Stewart calling Carlson a “d**k,” and Crossfire was canceled shortly thereafter — with CNN President Jonathan Klein specifically citing Stewart’s appearance in his decision. In an op-ed titled, “The day Jon Stewart blew up my show,” Begala claimed Stewart came onto Crossfire with an “agenda,” and bemoaned the fact the audience didn’t see an honest debate.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth blasted Tucker Carlson for questioning her patriotism
One of Tucker Carlson’s most controversial feuds was with Senator Tammy Duckworth — a Thai-American Democrat who lost both of her legs while serving in the Iraq War. The basis for the feud? Duckworth appeared on CNN’s State of the Union in July 2020, where she suggested that she understood the call to remove statues of Confederate generals and slave-owning Founding Fathers, such as George Washington. This didn’t sit well with Carlson.
“There are many of us here who do like this country,” Carlson said during his show (via The New York Times). “We have to fight to preserve our nation and heritage.” He added, “We don’t want to destroy it. We have every right to fight to preserve our nation and our heritage and our culture.” He then went on to call Duckworth a “vandal” and a “moron” for voicing her opinion on statue removals. “We’re not allowed to question their patriotism, even as they scream about how horrible America is, we have every right to laugh in their faces, and we should,” Carlson said of Duckworth and Rep. Ilhan Omar, who also voiced her support of statue removals. “Tammy Duckworth is not a child, at least not technically; she is a sitting United States senator.” Wow.
Duckworth immediately fired back, tweeting, “Does @TuckerCarlson want to walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America?” We’re going to assume no.