From CNN to Fox News, Tucker Carlson has a resume most journalists could only dream of. Not to say that he didn’t experience hardships along his journey. Curious to learn more about this controversial newsman? Read on.
“Oh, Mother Where Art Thou?”
Carlson was born in San Francisco, California. He's the eldest son of Richard Warner Carlson, former LA News anchor and US ambassador to Seychelles. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Carlson Senior was also the president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and director of the Voice of America. Obviously, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
His biological mother, Lisa McNear Lombardi, left her family when Tucker was only six years old and had very little contact with her kids after that. Four years after his mother left, his father remarried. This time, to Patricia Caroline Swanson, the heiress to the Swanson frozen foods empire. She is also the niece of Senator J. William Fulbright of the famous Fulbright Program. What an interesting background!
We Don’t Need No Education
Carlson attended St. George’s School, a private Episcopal boarding school in Middletown, Rhode Island. After graduation, he continued his studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he majored in history. His interest in journalism would spark further down the road. Although Carlson did get a formal college education, in 2018 he caused an uproar (which you’ll find he does quite often) after he posed the question “Is College Worth it?”, on his Fox News segment Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Carlson stated that obtaining a college degree has become "crushingly expensive" and added, "More students are failing, yet almost nobody fails. ... Colleges barely teach, yet every year they increase their fees.” While his comments did receive backlash from advocates of higher learning, there were many people, college-educated included, that agreed with his words.
High School Sweet Hearts
Carlson married Susan Andrews in 1991. On a Mother’s Day episode of the Fox News segment “Fox and Friends”, they told viewers how they’ve known each other since the 10th grade, at St George’s School. He said that they have been together for more than three decades so it was hard to imagine what it would be like not being together.
The Carls ons have four children together — two daughters and two sons. In an interview, Tucker Carlson referred to their kids as his “little angels”. On television, he may have a tough persona at times, but he’s really a devoted family man who enjoys spending time with his wife and children.
Everyone has to start somewhere. Tucker’s journalism career kicked off when he became a fact-checker for a national conservative journal called Policy Review — then published by The Heritage Foundation, but currently belongs to the Hoover Institution.
Carlson is proud of his beginning. He utilized those years to sharpen his investigative skills and learn from his more experienced colleagues. This would help climb the ranks in the news industry. As you will come to see, he has surely come a long way since then!
From Fact Checker to Writer
As a reporter, he traveled around the world to the most talked-about locations, contributing to magazines and newspapers such as the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, The Weekly Standard, Reader’s Digest, Esquire, The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, and The Daily Beast. Quite an impressive list!
The publications appreciated his take on current events and international affairs, especially those that favored more conservative political views.
Age Is Nothing But a Number
In 2000, Carlson was hired by CNN where he stayed until 2005. He started off as co-host of “The Spin Room”, becoming the youngest anchor ever hired by the network. In 2001 he became the co-host of “Crossfire”, presenting the political views of the ‘right’. His co-host, Paul Begala illustrated the opinions of the ‘left’. At the time, he also hosted the weekly public affairs program on PBS, “Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered”.
As implied in the name of the show — The ‘Spin’ Room — Carlson had a talent for flipping any topic, no matter how controversial, so that it would agree with his conservative views. At times, liberal viewers wondered if he really believed the things he said in his exchanges with Begala or was he simply skilled at playing devil’s advocate.
The Unforgettable Debate
You've probably already got a sense that Carlson isn’t one to back down in a debate. In October 2004, the year of the 2004 presidential elections, he had one of his most memorable moments that has become part of American TV history. In a heated exchange between Carlson and Jon Stewart (the host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central at the time), Stewart criticized the co-hosts saying “ It's hurting America. Here is what I wanted to tell you guys: Stop. You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably."
Stewart believed the two were making a mockery of reporting and journalism because they irresponsibly presented extremes of both political spectrums on important issues that only caused more division amongst the American people. Tucker later revealed that when the televised show ended, they stayed on arguing for several hours. Carlson said that it was heartfelt.
Facing the Consequences
In January 2005, CNN announced that Carlson would be leaving the network and “Crossfire” was going to be taken off the air. It was quite sudden news. At the time, the New York Times wrote about Stewart’s "on-air dressing-down" of Carlson as an "ignominious career [moment]" for Carlson. According to the paper, it was because of this criticism that the show “Crossfire” was ended. But this was not all, CNN chief Jonathan Klein, informed Carlson that his contract would not be renewed.
Carlson, however, tells a different story, His version is that he had already resigned from CNN and “Crossfire” even before Stewart was booked as a guest. Speaking to host Patricia Duff, Carlson revealed that “I resigned from “Crossfire” in April, many months before Jon Stewart came on our show, because I didn’t like the partisanship, and I thought in some ways it was kind of a pointless conversation […] each side coming out, you know, ‘Here’s my argument,’ and no one listening to anyone else. [CNN] was a frustrating place to work.” Who knows telling the truth?
Carlson wasn’t out of the limelight for long. On June 13th, 2005, a few months after leaving CNN, he debuted in his new early evening segment, “The Situation With Tucker Carlson”, which premiered on his new network, MSNBC. Unfortunately, the gig didn't last long and was taken off-air in March 2008 for poor ratings.
Surely Carlson’s right-winged views didn’t sit well with the majority left-winged audience which would explain the unfavorable ratings his new show received.
The Network Changes Directions
Brian Stelter wrote in The New York Times that “during Mr. Carlson’s tenure, MSNBC’s evening programming moved gradually to the left. His former time slots, 6 and 9 p.m., were then occupied by two liberals, Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow.”
Carlson also mentioned the shift MSNBC had made during his time there, saying that the network had “changed a lot” and “they didn’t have a role for me.” He said it was completely different from what it was when he first joined. However, he did mention in the same article that despite the difference in their political views the people at the network were always nice to him. Well, that’s good to hear!
Fox News Keeping Carlson Busy
In May 2009, Carlson became a contributor for Fox News. He was also a frequent panelist on a number of late-night satire shows, including “Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld” and “Special Report” with Bret Baier. He was the substitute host for “Hannity” in Sean Hannity’s absence and produced a Fox News special called “Fighting for Our Children’s Minds” where he ventured into the nation’s classrooms to find out what exactly our children were being taught.
Fox News is a very conservative network, which made it a very comfortable place for Carlson's views. They welcomed his thought-provoking opinions.
Fox News Loves Carlson
In March 2013, Carlson got promoted from being a contributor and guest host at Fox News to being a co-host for the weekend edition of the conservative daily morning news and talk show “Fox & Friends”. His fellow co-hosts were non-other than Alisyn Camerota and Clayton Morris. It aired on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
After a long rough patch, it seemed as though Carlson had finally found a place to call home. His hard work and perseverance looked like it was finally beginning to pay off.
Carlson Gets His Big Shot
On November 14, 2016, Carlson premiered on Fox News’s “On the Record ” , following the departure of the show’s former host. Two months later, in January 2017, the network announced that “On the Record ” would be taking the place of “The Kelly File”, which would be replaced with “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in April 2017.
With 3.7 million viewers in late 2017, its first episode was “the network’s most-watched telecast of the year in the time slot” . In the third quarter of 2018, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was third in a list of the 10 most viewed cable news programs, boasting an average audience of 2,775,000 viewers .
Numbers Don't Lie
Fox New’s rating data proved that Carlson was one of their top rating performers. Just a month after his show debuted, the network's ratings rose by 25%. Fox News executive chairman, Rupert Murdoch, has said that "Viewers have overwhelmingly responded to the show and we look forward to him being a part of Fox News’ powerful primetime line-up.”
Viewers now started to look for Carlson whenever they turned on Fox News, he was on a few shows now, so it would be hard to miss him. The future was finally starting to look bright again for Carlson.
Night Time Slot
2017 must have been Carlson's year! On April 19, the network released an official announcement that "Tucker Carlson Tonight" would replace Fox News’ 8 PM time slot. This was after Bill O’Reilly's show, "The O’Reilly Factor", was canceled.
You know what they say, "when one door closes another door opens", well, in this case, when Bill O’Reilly's door closed, it left Carlon's wide open. You don't get opportunities like that every day. The question was, would he live up to the expectations?
Carlson Didn't Disappoint
Fox News was proud that they place their bets on Carlson. Just two months after "Tucker Carlson Tonight" premiered it averaged 2.8 million viewers. A 23% increase in total viewership from the 7 PM slot. Furthermore, according to Nielsen Media Research, he was captivating more viewers than both his former networks, CNN and MSNBC. We can only wonder what his former employers thought about that...
Carlson's enchanting charisma kept viewers engaged. There were even many liberal viewers that tuned in to what Carlson had to say about certain topics. He soon became the most popular host on Fox News.
A Leap of Faith
Fox News had a few contestants, some big names, in fact, that were also considered as a replacement for Bill O’Reilly's show. While the others were also talented, the network decided to go with someone familiar to the viewers. Plus they preferred someone from their "family" rather than some high-profile talent that didn't know how their network operates. Moreover, they believed seeing a friendly face would help their audience handle the change better.
Their gut feeling was correct. Carlson's show kept the network's viewership up, even after one of their favorite shows had been taken off the air.
You Look Like ($8) Million Bucks!
According to reports, Tucker Carlson has an estimated net worth of $8 million, though he isn't the lowest paid at the network — many of his peers have triple his net worth. For example, the controversial host, Megyn Kelly, has an estimated net worth of $15 million, Sean Hannity, $80 million, and not to mention Bill O’Reilly, $85 million.
His other fellow anchor must have other streams of income besides hosting on Fox News. Carlson seems to be doing what he loves not concerned about the financial aspect of it. Or maybe he simply doesn't want everyone to know how much money he really has.
Tucker Carlson's charity of choice is Horton’s Kids, which works to empower at-risk children from Washington DC's most under-resourced communities. Carlson was introduced to the organization by CNN’s Jake Tapper, telling US News “I remember being on the road with Jake in ’99 when we were both reporters covering the presidential race and him telling me about [Horton’s Kids],”. He added, “I had three kids by that point, weirdly, so our support has been from afar, limited to financial support, but I’ve always been a fan since the beginning."
Carlson, having children of his own, seems to have a soft spot for underprivileged kids. Fortunately, his kids will never have to experience the hardships of poverty thanks to his successful career.
Editor in Chief
In 2010, Tucker Carlson, along with former vice president Dick Cheney and Neil Patel launched a conservative American political news website called The Daily Caller. Carlson held the position of editor in chief and occasionally wrote opinion pieces with Patel. Successful businessman Foster Friess was among the supporters of their publication — he alone granted them $3 million dollars!
The Daily Caller was launched as an alternative to the popular and very liberal Huffington Post, which features a broad range of subjects that go beyond politics and current events. Republican political consultant, Karl Rove, stated that The Daily Caller was necessary reading for anyone who wanted to be up to speed with what was going on with politics in America.
No Advertisements, Just Content
In 2012, Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller became profitable without its readers ever having to see a single ad. In July 2017, their traffic ranked at 711 in the US, and 2,364 in the world. In only 2 years, the site quadrupled its readership. Not too shabby.
Like any publication, not everything went smoothly, The Daily Caller had a few controversies that made headlines. As a conservative publication, they go at the left pretty hard sometimes. In January 2019, The Daily Caller published a click-bait headline that misled readers — "Here’s the Photo Some Described as a Nude Selfie of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez." The photo was not in fact of the young politician. Ocasio-Cortez condemned The Daily Caller for its behavior. The Daily Caller later apologized and changed the headline.
Fun fact: Tucker Carlson's signature look was none other than a bowtie. He started wearing bowties in 1984 when he was in tenth grade at St. George’s, Rhode Island prep school, as part of the school's dress code. He eventually stopped wearing them on April 11, 2006.
Too bad, We're sure that if he would have kept the look for a while the bow tie would have made a comeback in fashion. Then, he would have been considered a fashion influencer!
Carlson's Bowtie in Pop Culture
In 2005, his bowtie was even referenced on a season five episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm , when a character was referred to Larry David as “Tucker Carlson” because he was wearing a bowtie. Carlson should have taken it as a compliment that his signature look made it to the hit show! How many news anchors can say that?
Back when MSNBC advertised Carlson's program, they made posters that read, “The Man. The Legend. The Bowtie.” He had also been wearing a bowtie, in 2004, during the Jon Stewart controversy.
Carlson Puts on His Dancing Shoes
In 2006, conservative Tucker Carlson did the unthinkable to some — he joined the cast of the American dance competition television series "Dancing With the Stars" (season 3). He said it wasn't the smartest thing he has ever done but for sure one of the most interesting ones and that he wanted to lead an interesting life.
He added that he was 37, he had four kids and a steady job, and that he rarely does things he is not good at. He was the first to be eliminated. It's not every day that people of his stature step outside of their comfort zone, so we can at least give him an A for effort.
(He Can't) Move Like Jagger
Carlson's dancing partner for the competition, Elena Grinenko, said that teaching Tucker how to dance was “like Einstein teaching addition to a slow child”. We're not sure if she was just teasing him or if she was sore because of their quick elimination. You win some, you lose some.
Carlson took the good memories with him stating in an interview he would miss the dance classes. In preparation for the competition, he took ballroom dance classes for four hours a day. He also admitted his difficulties and said that it was hard for him to remember the moves.
Carlson's Tell All
Back in 2003, Tucker Carlson wrote a memoir titled, "Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News", about his TV news experiences which he published through Warner Books. In his autobiography, he revealed how he was falsely accused of unaccepted behavior towards a woman who was unstable. This displayed stalker-like behavior towards him. He described it as a traumatizing event in his life.
The rising awareness of the #MeToo movement has made it harder for men in positions of power to take advantage of women. That being said, sometimes men feel that they are guilty before being proven innocent, so Carlson was lucky to clear his name. Even a false allegation is enough to ruin a person's career.
Coming Soon to Bookstores Near You
That wouldn't be the last book the young scholar would author. In May 2017, he signed an eight-figure, two-book deal, with Simon & Schuster’s Threshold Editions. His first book of the deal, "Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution", was released in October 2018. It debuted #1 on the famous New York Times Best Seller List. What a great start for an author. Now there will surely be high expectations for his next book.
The book's cover shows caricatures of Democratic politicians Hillary Clinton, Maxine Waters, and Nancy Pelosi; Republican politicians Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham; journalist Bill Kristol; and tech moguls Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos. That basically sums it all up.
Contrary to what you might think when you think of a right-winged conservative, Tucker Carlson isn’t against gay marriage. As a matter of fact, on an episode of his show in 2007, he said that he was a true believer in marriage and that everyone had the right to marry no matter what.
He made an effort into being politically correct and assured no one would take any of his words personally. See? Not all conservatives are bigots like some liberals may think.
As you've probably already guessed, not everyone is a fan of Carlson’s views. In the New York Times, James Poniewozik definitely isn't. He once stated that Carlson does not seek to interview his subjects but to defeat them. That he shifts topics to imply hypocrisies, prods, pounces, guffaws, and interrupts.
He added that the camera holds tight to his face to show every squint of bemusement, contempt, and confusion. Carlson says that he's usually unphased by that kind of criticism.
Climate Change — a Myth?
This one may even be amusing to some, but Carlson doesn't believe in the concept of climate change. He says that it is “unknowable” whether human activities even contribute to changes in our environment.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but maybe if someone was pushed out of the newsroom to take a better look at what's going on outside they would change their minds.
Tucker Carlson and his wife, Susan Andrews, have been married for over 25 years. They have four children together — Lillie, Hopie, and Dorothy, and Buckley. He and his beautiful family live in a farmhouse in Alexandria. They renovated the modest house into the dream home it is today.
Though Tucker hoped for his home to be a place of sanctuary, it has been a target for protestors who oppose his blatant political views. People have the right to an opinion, but that's not to see it doesn't come with a price.
As one of the most outspoken conservatives on-air and an avid Trump supporter, Tucker Carlson does not really care about being politically correct, to say the least. While he gets ridiculed on a weekly basis it seems that he too has his share of criticism for the views of mainstream conservatism, referring to it as “insufficiently conservative.”
Carlson would like to believe that if more people in the media had his views it would "Make America Great Again".
Susan Carlson’s father, Rev. George E. Andrews, was the headmaster of St George’s school between the years of 1984 – 1989, he then became headmaster at the St. Andrew’s School until 2007 when he retired. In 2o06, Susan's father was accused of not having reported a teacher to the authorities for some allegations. An investigation that took place concluded that Andrews had actually fired him but was not aware of the extent of his assaults and therefore had not broken any laws under the Rhode Island state law.
Despite the controversy, old students of Rev. George E. Andrew, like Grant Dubler, had good memories of the former headmaster, "Rev. Andrews fused life into the school as no other headmaster has ever done," Dubler said. "He was someone you could look to like a wise, grandfatherly figure. But he could be fun, too. Like the time when, in shirt and tie, he jumped in the lake and swam across. For a second, we lost sight of him, then we saw his red socks bobbing up and down."
Carlson and his wife met at St George’s, where Susan's father was headmaster. While at St. Andrews, Carlson asked Rev. Andrews for his blessing to marry his daughter, six months before he graduated. The couple carried on dating after high school and college. He said at the time that she was the cutest 10th grader in America.
Even when it comes to romance Carlson is a traditional type of guy. It's not as common to ask for a man his girlfriend's father's permission to marry her. In the 21st century, women can choose who they want to marry, but the gesture was respectful and considering the time.
Views From the Left
Despite some of Carlson's extremely right-winged conservative views, there are some topics on which he actually sees eye-to-eye with liberals. He has been a long-time supporter of same-sex marriage, back when it was a very unpopular opinion, and way before it was law in the United States.
Even Tucker Carlson can see how absurd it is to tell two grown-ups who they should marry, and he does use his platform to share that message with his fellow conservatives. Bravo!
This may come as a surprise to some, but Tucker Carlson is a huge 'Deadhead' — a fan of the rock band the Grateful Dead. If you know anything about the band, you know that its sound is rather unorthodox and usually encores other music genres like modal jazz, bluegrass, country, folk, blues, and even reggae. Probably not the music you'd expect a conservative Republican to groove to.
In a 2005 interview, Carlson admitted to having attended more than 50 of their concerts. Now that's what we call a hardcore fan!